LIV Golf changed the sport forever with its historic inaugural event, but not in the way you might think

According to fans, the best playoffs in all sports almost unanimously belong to the same organization with the most boring and diluted regular season. After a rough four-month trek, college basketball’s March Madness is fascinating in ways that are almost inexplicable — at least compared to its professional counterparts — as one of the worst offerings in all of televised sports one.

Thursday was a historic day in golf history. LIV Golf launched its landmark inaugural event in shotgun style at the Centurion Club in London. After months of promises we wouldn’t believe how good this breakaway coalition would be (actually hinting at the opposite outcome), the coalition emerged with a surprisingly compelling presentation that included ubiquitous, informative player and team leaderboards, short 5-hour days, and an easy-to-understand and even more accessible team concept. Contrary to its slogan, you can blink and not miss much, but if you doze off with your eyes closed, you’re likely to miss most of the show.

One of the best-performing elements of the demo was the countdown in the upper-left corner of the screen, which informed viewers at any time how many holes were left in the day. The liveliness of LIV Golf’s first 18 holes is naturally a shockingly positive feature compared to the tedious PGA Tour events. Golf itself is not very good. Charl Schwartzel and Hennie du Plessis go head-to-head on the leaderboard, which may not have been what anyone at LIV Golf had in mind when they conceived the idea over the past few years, but the framework is pretty solid.

I do not like this. I went through the day as pessimistic as anyone. Not because I’m a regular-season opponent of pro golf, but because the lack of a business model and the often juggling before Thursday didn’t herald a banner day for golf fans. There is still a lot of disgust to levy. High-quality production doesn’t take away from the fact that the LIV Golf League is fundamentally a discrediting entity for a hostile government. It also doesn’t change the fact that stars will be paid whether they shoot 65s or 95s at these events, removing one of golf’s greatest traits: meritocracy. No form in the world can make up for the fact that the worst PGA Tour event is still more important than any LIV golf tournament that doesn’t include relegation.

By the way, the PGA Tour is having some real trouble. a letter with almost no teeth On Thursday, players were banned from trading PGA Tour cards for LIV golf lanyards, a sign of how little influence or power the tour currently has. When your annual revenue is $1.5 billion and your rival league has roughly 400 times as much money, you can’t make logistical adjustments to keep all your players. When your only recourse is to point out to players how much money other people have, and how much harder it is to survive and thrive on the PGA Tour than the more comfortable LIV Golf League, then you’re imposing trust on the pros and they’ll choose legacy and morality rather than wealth.

Let me know how it goes.

Still, there is a way forward. For years, the folks at the Premier Golf League have been trying to create a product similar to what the Crown Prince launched at the Centurion Club on Thursday, and in fact it appears to be a blueprint the Saudis copied when they started this LIV Golf League. Thursday in What happened at the Centurion club emboldened the PGL. It would be an untenable position for the PGA Tour to avoid drastic action altogether — either alone or through a partnership with the PGL, because, uh, the players play for it (?) — because golf The ball head has entered a new era.

If the PGA Tour believes the status quo is good enough to withstand the wave of money the Saudis will continue to create, Patrick Reed’s clubs don’t have enough clubs to dig out of the sand.

It is starting to become clearer that what has happened in the past few months and even this week is representative of what the coming decades will look like. Although I don’t want it to be true, it will be. It could be that these two leagues are fighting for supremacy, or maybe 10 more will emerge, but the presence of LIV further weakens the professional game that already has 23 OWGR-recognized leagues around the world.

Which brings me to what I’m really trying to say: Thursday’s big winners weren’t Greg Norman and the LIV Golf League, but the USGA, R&A, PGA of America and Augusta National. It only makes golf’s “playoffs” — if we want to call it that — all the more important when the monotony of everyday tour life is sliced ​​up and copied again and again.

This begs the question at the forefront of professional golf right now, as to whether the official World Golf Rankings Committee (which consists of the PGA Tour and these major organizations) will extend OWGR points to LIV golf events. For the heads of the majors, acquiescence would be an admission that they are no longer in tune with the PGA Tour and instead let it fend for itself against the Saudis. Rejection would be an indictment of the legitimacy of OWGR as a ranking system, as many top players are already playing LIV. Because these organizations don’t want to be dragged to court by LIV Golf or demean their championship venues by excluding top players (even with the threat of being banned, many of them will still choose money over major participation), I’ve always believed Large institutions will not deny OWGR points from LIV.

There is some sadness in this. On Tuesday, I spoke with a PGA Tour player who said that professional golf will change forever this week. He’s clearly right on this point, and it’s disappointing to think that events at venues like the Riviera, Colony and Bay Hill will not have the same prestige in the future as they have in the past. The result, however, is that Grand Slam golf is by far the best form of golf in the world, and these four weeks will be even more monumental than now.

The regular-season battle for golf’s superstars will continue for years to come, and fans will be collateral damage. This is both sad and inevitable. Fans will consume all this drama, some of which may even be fun, but the foundations of regular-season golf will be eroded bit by bit. This would be a bummer, but I’m also not sure if it can be stopped. No one can stop the tide of economics, especially the kind of dirty economics at play here.

The big weeks will be a breath of fresh air. They know that, too, which is why they probably won’t stand in the way of any regular-season tour. If they don’t act soon, at some point the exodus will be too big to bear, and so far they haven’t acted. Maybe it’s because they’re not motivated to do so.

I’ve been thinking about what PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said last year in Kiawah: “I come from a messy world. I think it’s inevitable — I actually think it’s healthy. You either disrupt or Destroyed. That’s what it is.”

An outage has occurred. When the PGA Tour tries to treat history as a major organization, history doesn’t support it. Thursday’s successful debut at LIV Golf showed that the tour is in a long war. LIV will not fail, perhaps because it thrives, but also because it was never built to succeed. Waugh watched it all happen with an outsider’s eye and, along with three other major organizations, has been, somewhat ironically, the beneficiary of the sport’s biggest upheaval in half a century.

Golf has always been quite global, and with the introduction of LIV, it will likely become more global in the future. The top 1000 players of OWGR will be spread across all corners of the globe. It will be hard to follow and hug your arms. But for four weeks in the following year, the golf world will gather for the Masters, the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open, and finally the British Open. Players participating in tournaments may be able to afford better travel conditions, and perhaps they may bring a larger entourage to these events.

But during those four weeks, none of the extracurricular activities that have complicated golf in recent years mattered. The sport will be distilled into its purest form. On the most challenging and fascinating courses in the world, try to stick the ball into the hole for the trophy that really matters. The money players earn can buy a lot, but not those 16 days of enchantment and buzz. There is only one way to experience this, and everyone who matters will be there.

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