Kevin Na has sensationally resigned from the PGA Tour.
Five times a winner on the circuit, Na released a statement on social media in which he explained that he was taking the decision to avoid a legal dispute with the tour over his decision to play on the new LIV Golf Invitational Series.
The 38-year-old is one of 48 players who will compete in the Saudi-funded circuit’s first event at the Centurion Club near London next week.
The PGA Tour had previously denied all release requests from members wanting to play in the $25million tournament and, following the publication of the field last Wednesday, reiterated its intention to sanction those who flout its rules.
That has prompted Na, the 27th highest-earner in the history of the PGA Tour, to tender his resignation.
He wrote: “For 19 years, I’ve played on the PGA Tour and I have loved every minute of it. I appreciate the platform the tour has provided me to play the game that I love and for the opportunities that have come with it.
“Recent developments in the professional golf world have given me a chance to reconsider my options.
“I would like the freedom to play wherever I want and exercising my right as a free agent gives me that opportunity. However, to remain a PGA Tour player, I must give up my right to make these choices about my career.
“If I exercise my right to choose where and when I play golf, then I cannot remain a PGA Tour player without facing disciplinary proceedings and legal action from the PGA Tour.
“I am sad to share that I have chosen to resign from the PGA Tour. This has not been an easy decision not one I take lightly.
“I hope the current policies changes and I’ll be able to play on the PGA Tour again.
“For now, please keep an eye out for LIV Golf. It is an exciting new product and I hope you will enjoy the buzz it brings to golf.
“I am thrilled to begin the next chapter in my career, starting next week at the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event in London. I hope you’ll continue to support me.”
Na’s decision is bound to raise questions over the future of other PGA Tour members who have opted to play the LIV Golf Series, including Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.