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Greg Norman launched a scathing attack on the PGA Tour after the circuit denied players permission to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Deriding the tour as “anti-golfer, anti-fan, and anti-competitive”, the LIV Golf Investments chief executive accused bosses of “denying professional golfers their right to play golf”.

A large number of players had requested releases to play in the controversial Saudi-backed venture’s inaugural event at Centurion Club in St Albans next month.

However, a letter issued to players and subsequently leaked confirmed permission had been denied.

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In the letter, the PGA Tour claimed granting permission would “significantly and unreasonably harm the tour and sponsors”, and said it would not permit “free riding on the investments made by the tour in establishing and promoting its members”.

“Sadly, the PGA Tour seems intent on denying professional golfers their right to play golf, unless it’s exclusively in a PGA Tour tournament,” Norman said in a statement shortly after the news was confirmed.

“This is particularly disappointing in light of the tour’s non-profit status, where its mission is purportedly ‘to promote the common interests of professional tournament golfers.’

“Instead, the tour is intent on perpetuating its illegal monopoly of what should be a free and open market.

“The tour’s action is anti-golfer, anti-fan, and anti-competitive. But no matter what obstacles the PGA Tour puts in our way, we will not be stopped.

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“We will continue to give players options that promote the great game of golf globally.”

A handful of players last week confirmed for the first time they had asked for releases, including former world No.1 Lee Westwood and 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia, as well as Phil Mickelson.

Others were widely reported as having done so but have so far not confirmed publicly.

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