Hertfordshire, England — Turbulent golf is just beginning to describe this one: a string of events where players defected from the PGA Tour to rivals, the subsequent suspension, the albatross in the room about Saudi financing and the realization that this was the new reality.
The LIV Golf International Series kicks off on Thursday outside London, and if you can shake off all the destructive forces that surround its existence, the event itself is pretty smooth.
It’s fair to debate whether 54 holes is the best way to decide a game, and if shotguns start to fit in professional golf, whether there’s even a clamor for a team element that’s part of the structure — and destined to become more permanent as these tournaments evolve into a league .
The conduct of the event was top-notch, the crowd at Centurion Club was average if not raucous, the course presented a more difficult challenge than expected, and Charl Schwartzel walked away with $4.75 million of the $25 million in prize money.
But golf suddenly finds itself in a predictable but still leading to a fragile situation that puts the future of the sport in serious doubt.
Years ago, the idea of building an alternative to the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour was to try to bring together the best players in the world more frequently.
Greg Norman, commissioner of the LIV Golf Series and CEO of LIV Golf Investments, has consistently described his efforts as “additional,” meaning he saw a way — and still is That’s it – having players on the PGA Tour compete on two arenas.
But PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan made clear in a memo to players Thursday that there will be no common ground. All 17 PGA Tour members at LIV Golf have been suspended and no longer eligible to play on the PGA Tour, he said. He noted that future additions will be subject to the same penalties, including Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez, who signed last week.
That means we shouldn’t expect to see all the best players in any event other than the majors. Monahan also said the decision will include all tours sanctioned by the PGA Tour, as well as the Presidents Cup. Monahan wrote that the players “did not receive the necessary event and media rights releases” and that participating in the game “violated our rules of the game.”
Norman countered that the tour was “retaliatory,” “of course it’s not the last word on this topic. The era of free agency has begun.”
In an interview with SI.com/Morning Read Saturday, Norman said LIV Golf is prepared to support players financially in the event of a lawsuit. “We will support them,” he said. Several players, including Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia, have resigned from their PGA Tour memberships, saying they don’t want to get involved in any legal action and just prefer to walk away. Phil Mickelson keeps his PGA Tour status because he believes his lifetime membership should prevail.
Next up is the U.S. Open, the third major of the year that kicks off Thursday at Country Club in Brookline, Mass., with the specter of the rival league hanging over as several players in England will play. on the schedule.
This suggests some chaotic, awkward, turbulent times ahead, with no crystal ball to determine the outcome. There are some topics to consider about how this might affect various aspects of the game.
The USGA released a statement last week saying it would not ban players from the U.S. Open because of their ties to the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
“We pride ourselves on being the most open tournament in the world, and players who have earned the right to play in this year’s tournament through waivers and qualifying will have the opportunity to do so,” the USGA said. “Our field standards were set prior to the opening of competition earlier this year, and it would be inappropriate and unfair to our competitors to change the standards once established.”
The R&A had no comment but expects the British Open next month to play out in the same way. The question is whether the two organizations will change their criteria for LIV series contenders to make it harder to qualify.
Then came the Masters and the PGA Championship. The Masters is an invitational tournament that has changed its eligibility criteria several times over the years, but has always invited its past champions—except during an awkward period in the early 2000s, when then-president Hootie Johnson called out an aging past champion Send “a letter” implying that they are no longer competing. The idea was eventually abandoned.
Will the Masters invite past LIV golf champions? The list includes Johnson, Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Charles Schwarzer and Patrick Reed — the latest additions announced on Saturday.
“I’ve definitely talked to them, but you have to ask the Masters guys,” Johnson said. “I can’t comment on anything they said.”
At the Masters, chairman Frederidley said the event did not “turn down” past champion Mickelson, who chose not to play. But when asked about the potential of rival leagues, he said. “We believe very clearly that the World Tour has done a great job promoting the sport over the years. Beyond that, there are a lot of things we don’t know that could or could happen, I just don’t think I can say more many.”
The PGA of America is probably the major organization with the closest ties to the PGA Tour. The two organizations have collaborated to change the FedExCup schedule in recent years. Aside from the official World Golf Rankings and major winner exemptions, the PGA Championship venue is heavily skewed towards PGA Tour players.
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At last month’s PGA Championship, CEO Seth Waugh acknowledged the havoc that LIV Golf would cause.
“I think we’ve got a lot of time between now and Oak Hill[where the 2023 PGA will take place]and I think we all have to take a deep breath and see how it plays out and what the ecosystem looks like there when.
“As I said, we are fans of the current ecosystem and the World Golf Ranking System and all the other things that create golf’s best venues. Right now, I don’t know what next year is going to look like. We think it’s bad for the game and support that Ecosystem. We have our charter, and we will move towards those areas.”
Waugh added: “Our bylaws do say that you have to be a recognized member of a recognized tour to be a PGA (U.S.) member somewhere and therefore to be eligible to play. If something else becomes one of those, obviously we have to recognize it.
DP World Tour
The former European Tour and PGA Tour formed a “strategic alliance” in late 2020, but so far they have not been aligned due to their ties to LIV Golf. While the PGA Tour has publicly threatened to suspend players, the DP World Tour has remained silent.
Players with DP World Tour status are currently unsure if they will be able to participate in the upcoming tournament. Germany’s Martin Kemer, for example, said he expected to compete in his home country’s BMW International Open in two weeks’ time. But he didn’t get any official word.
“I didn’t hear anything,” said 2014 U.S. Open champion Kemer. “I plan to play in Munich.”
Presidents Cup/Ryder Cup
The fallout will seriously affect the Presidents Cup and possibly the Ryder Cup. Monahan said players participating in the LIV Golf Series will not be eligible for the Presidents Cup in Charlotte’s Quill Valley later this year. International captain Trevor Immelman has now seen four possible members in his squad – compatriots Louis Ushutzen, Brendan Grace and Schwarzer and Australia’s Matt O’Brien. Jones – Disqualified.
The player’s status in the Ryder Cup is also in doubt due to affiliation.
“I don’t think it’s fair how teams can say you’re ineligible to be drafted when teams are drafted in the world rankings, it’s the only thing they’re drafted for, the world ranking criteria,” Grace said. “So, I don’t see how they can put it in. I know it’s a PGA Tour event, but they should change the whole thing.”
Grace said he hadn’t spoken to Immelman yet, but was told via Jones that “it doesn’t look good, but he’s trying to fight it. At the end of the day, he wants the best team to play for him and try to beat it.” American. I think he’s going to fight for it to get the best team.”
In the absence of some of the best players, things that are suboptimal for the majors will obviously continue. Garcia, Mickelson and Kemer are all past champions. Johnson doesn’t qualify either, nor does Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter or Kevner.
Official World Golf Rankings
Norman said LIV Golf will formally submit a bid to the OWGR in the hope that its events will be approved and provide points. This is the easiest way for players to have a chance at qualifying for the majors. Without it, the road becomes even more miserable, as without the ability to play on the PGA Tour – or possibly the DP World Tour – their points will be reduced and some will find themselves unable to qualify.
Another potential problem is the conflict of interest inherent in rankings. The PGA Tour and DP World Tour and all four majors are part of the board.
“We have spoken to the (OWGR) technical committee and will be submitting our application to them,” Norman said. “Our field strength is stronger than many tours in the world. The technical committee will review it and hopefully we have checked all options before submitting it to the board for approval. There are more players coming and the strength will change It’s better, so it’s hard to see how you can deny it.” The process is sure to be fun.
Mickelson is scheduled to meet the media at the country club Monday at the start of the U.S. Open week. The six-time Grand Slam champion missed the first two majors of the year while he was out of action for four months. At LIV golf events, he hardly ever showed a sharp side. After a respectable opening-round 69, Mickelson finished 75-76 at 10 over and 17 behind Schwarzer. he finished 34thwhich means $146,000.
top golf league
The group, which began its path to a competitive league eight years ago and gained massive traction before the coronavirus pandemic, was once made up of many of the same people as LIV Golf Group. They split later in 2020, and LIV managed to get to the starting line.
The PGL has since turned to a plan to include its 54-hole, no-cut tournament on the PGA Tour schedule. 18 such events are planned.
PGL CEO Andy Gardiner did not attend the LIV event, but watched it from his home in London. He left inspired, even if it wasn’t his team involvement.
“If done well, it shows potential,” Gardner said. “Its short answer has helped us. Worry about it creating a permanent division (in the game). But that’s what helps. If (the PGA Tour) doesn’t take too long, we can fix that.” ‘
Gardner has presented a detailed plan to the PGA Tour and its members that would provide a sizable stake in the league, with each member paying up to $2 million in compensation for Korn Ferry Tour and DP World Tour players less. It’s not LIV money, but it will be part of the PGA Tour, offering a range of events with big weekly payouts, while also adding some new concepts introduced by LIV.
Whether this will gain any traction remains to be seen. It will be fascinating to see how much traction LIV Golf gets, the next event, scheduled for June 30-July 2 in Portland, Oregon.
Golf has been going through some rough times lately, and it doesn’t look like things are going to get any better for the foreseeable future.