Column: Players taking Saudi money shouldn’t need PGA Tour

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BROOKLYN, Mass. — In the late afternoon, two players huddled on the country club’s practice field. Only hear a few words per sentence, which is still enough to get a good idea of ​​the topic.

This has nothing to do with the U.S. Open.

Even at golf’s second-oldest tournament, there’s no escaping chatter and speculation about a potential future built on wealth — obnoxious greed, one might say — rather than credibility.

“You’re not going anywhere when no one comes up,” Justin Thomas said. “It’s not for the USGA. It’s not for the U.S. Open. It’s not for us players. But unfortunately, that’s where we are right now.”

And thinks it wasn’t until late February that Commissioner Jay Monahan was so confident in his stance on the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Series that he said, “The PGA Tour is going on.”

It should be that simple.

For Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, and others swept up by the wealth of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and Greg Norman’s promise that LIV Golf is the future Humanly speaking, this should be true.

Johnson, who resigned from his PGA Tour membership, said his plan was to play in eight LIV events and a few majors this year, and that’s it. “The whole reason I started playing at LIV was to play less golf, not more,” he said.

Well, that’s not the whole reason.

According to The Telegraph, Johnson received a $150 million signing fee. That’s double the PGA Tour earnings he’s accumulated over the past 15 years. Whether Johnson or any other player on Tiger Woods’ side is worth that much is debatable.

So did Mickelson, who showed every bit of his approaching 52-year-old in an interview with the media on Monday, repeating the same lines he rehearsed during his LIV golf debut last week. He respects the opinions of others, empathizes with those who are offended, and sees his relationship with the PGA Tour as a two-way street. They provided a stage and he hit the flop.

Mickelson didn’t want to give up his lifetime membership, giving the player 20 career wins and 15 years of service. Never mind when he says he will only be playing LIV events and the British Open this year. He wants to decide where to play without anyone telling him.

For Mickelson, it was always about control.

Monaghan doubles down on the source of these wealth. “It’s not a problem for me because I don’t work for the Saudi Arabian government,” he said. In his first public comment since LIV Golf started, his money line — no pun intended — was his saying Sunday that no one has to apologize for being a part of the PGA Tour.

His question was more interesting when asked why players couldn’t play on both tours.

“Why do they need us so much?” he said.

Why not just leave? If even the surge in prize money this year is still just over a third of what LIV Golf offers at each stop ($25 million), what good is playing on the PGA Tour?

The tour relies on relevance and popularity, which Saudi money can’t buy.

Of course, that could change, and that should be golf’s biggest fear. Everyone has a price, which explains why Johnson changed his mind, thereby paving the way for DeChambeau to make a similar U-turn. Others will surely follow, and no one moves the needles themselves.

The majors are the crux of the matter, and it remains to be determined how the Masters and PGA Championship, which have a longstanding relationship with the PGA Tour, if they take any action, will respond by inviting or changing the criteria. .

The majors are the four most important championships of the year, but on the PGA Tour, young players—Jordan Spieth and Thomas a decade ago, and Scottie Schaeffler and Sam Burns – Entered a major and became a known fan.

The Canadian Open is a good addition to a disturbing week on the PGA Tour. Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau and Thomas fought to the end as thousands of fans — most of whom had actually bought tickets — circled the 18th green, done on network TV Contest.

This doesn’t happen every week. But it can.

Just like Joaquin Niemann at the Riviera this year, when he went online-to-lane at the Genesis Invitational and held off a tough Colin Morikawa for Woods to present him the trophy.

“There’s nothing to compete with,” Niemann said.

Except for money, of course.

The battle is far from over. McIlroy called the Saudi league “dead in the water” in February, when Johnson and a group of top players pledged to support the PGA Tour. On Tuesday, McIlroy was asked to explain what he had done wrong.

“I think I took a lot of the player’s remarks for face,” he said. “You get people committed to the PGA Tour, and that’s the statement made. People say it in reverse, so I guess I take them for face. I took their word for it. And I was wrong.”

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