Former US President Donald Trump accused the PGA Tour of taking advantage of players and fans "for many years" on the same day that the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series suffered the resignation of Greg Norman's right-hand man.
Trump is working alongside LIV Golf to stage the rebel breakaway series that is due to get under way next month at Centurion Golf Club in St Albans, a move that has threatened a civil war within the sport with firm opposition coming from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.
Australian Norman is spearheading those efforts, but he suffered a sizeable blow this week after it emerged that Sean Bratches, LIV Golf Chief Commercial Officer, resigned from his position.
Norman is understood to have informed executives on the breakaway series of Bratches' departure on Wednesday, which comes just one week after Norman played down the Saudi involvement in the murder of Jamaal Khashoggi.
"Look, we've all made mistakes," Norman said last Wednesday. "You just want to learn from those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward."
The departure of Bratches after just six months is a big loss for LIV Golf, given his reputation from more than 27 years with ESPN and four years spent with Formula One as Managing Director of Commercial Operations. In his short time in the role, Bratches is credited with putting in place a sponsorship strategy to maximise media rights, and he also appointed veteran broadcaster David Hill to spearhead a production team.
The development came on the same day as Trump took aim at the PGA Tour. On the opening day of the 2022 US PGA Championship at Southern Hills, Trump accused the PGA of America - who took the decision in January last year to strip his Bedminster course of hosting rights following the Capitol Hill riots - of exploiting its leading players as well as spectators.
"Take the money and run (or stay!)," Trump wrote on his Truth Social profile, the media platform he uses since being banned by Twitter.
"The PGA of 'America' and the PGA Tour have been taking advantage of the players for many years (not much different than charging the fans $19 for a beer), and the players are not happy. The 'PGA' has maximum Tax Exempt Status, makes a fortune, and pays executives salaries higher than virtually any of the very talented players can make in a good year. LIV can change that!
"Backed by Saudi Arabia (just like Formula One, UFC, Boxing, Tennis and almost all of sports, unlimited amount(s) of money will be available for the players, charity, and likewise the PGA will, because of this new competition, be forced to "pay up," maybe even having to reduce their very bloated salaries."
With lucrative riches on offer for players who commit to the series of $25 million [£19.99m] per event and $50m [£39.98m] at the season-ending event at Trump's National Doral Miami course, several players inside the world's top 100 have been tempted over to the breakaway series - despite threats of being blocked from majors, both Tours and the Ryder Cup.
The prize money in the LIV Golf Invitational Series will vastly outweigh what is on offer at corresponding events on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. With Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund backing the rebel series, a total $255m [£203.98m] will be on offer across the eight events, nearly five times more than in America and seven times more than the DP World Tour.
The PGA recently celebrated offering the biggest prize fund in golf history with a total purse of $20m [£16m], but LIV Golf plans to offer more than that at each one of its seven regular events before doubling the pot for the finale.
"It was only because of competition that the Players Championship paid a record this year - great going Cam [Smith]!" Trump added.
"Professional Golfers should embrace LIV, and just watch what happens - much more of everything for all!"