PGA Tour hits back at Bubba Watson's pay-for-play claims

The PGA Tour has denied claims from Bubba Watson that he received appearance money for appearing in tour events in the past.

Watson, who signed with LIV Golf earlier this year, was hitting back at criticism of LIV players for accepting up-front appearance money, saying it was also a common practice on the PGA Tour.

In an interview with ESPN, the two-time Masters champion insisted he received "guaranteed money" to appear in several PGA Tour events, despite it being against tour rules.

"It makes me laugh because on the PGA Tour, I got paid behind closed doors to show up at tournaments, many tournaments," Watson told ESPN. "And if Bubba Watson's not the best, that means the best were getting paid better than me and more than me. And so it's guaranteed money. I miss the cut, I still make money. I make the cut, I make extra money.

"I'd laugh at [criticism] because we all had some guaranteed money to show up at places. Win, lose, quit, whatever it is, you still got the money. We've all been doing that. We've all been playing for guaranteed money. The critics, it just makes me laugh because that's what we're doing. We don't want to talk about it on tour, but we are getting it."

But the PGA Tour has denied the claims, reiterating to ESPN that its rules prohibit "the payment of appearance money to players as an inducement to play in a particular tournament."

"We are aware that certain tournament sponsors may contract with a player to perform a sponsor-related activity during tournament week for which they receive nominal compensation," the PGA Tour said. "This is permissible under our guidelines."

PGA Tour player advisory council member Kevin Kisner also rejected the claims, and said Watson was talking about contractual sponsor-related activities, not pay-for-play.

"If Travelers wants to pay Bubba Watson to go do a tent visit, that has nothing to do with the PGA Tour," Kisner said. "You don't think Zurich in New Orleans is pressuring guys to play because they're sponsoring them on their sleeves? That's not an appearance fee. That's an off-course endorsement that's under contract."

Watson said he was paid by sponsors and tournament organisers, though he wouldn't divulge how much he received.

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