Rory McIlroy’s victory at the RBC Canadian Open came at a good time for the PGA Tour and its beleaguered commissioner Jay Monaghan.
Just a day before McIlroy successfully defended his title at the Canadian Open for $1.566 million, the upstart LIV Tour won its maiden title in Charles Schwarzel, South Africa, but his payday was only better than McIlroy’s. Yi opened the exhibition with a $4.75 million winning 54-hole shotgun.
While the LIV event isn’t covered by any TV network or cable channel, it does get more publicity than it clearly deserves for the quality of golf it showcases.
The media frenzy over LIV events is the product of a bitter war between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf — so far marked by skirmishes, but it only takes a few dominoes to win one way or the other Way down to determine the outcome.
The battle lines have been a moving target over the past two weeks, with considerable movement when the venue for the UK’s inaugural LIV event is announced.
The PGA Tour is fighting back by reminding any players who play LIV that they will face disciplinary action.
The PGA Tour announced the suspension of 17 members playing at the Centurion Club once the first round was hit in the first round on Thursday outside London.
Between Thursday’s first shot and Schwarzer’s win, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez also joined the new tour and will play in Poland at the end of June. The next LIV event in Tran.
With Mickelson already part of LIV and DeChambeau being recruited only recently, LIV has bought itself two movers, but with discussions of Saudi involvement, namely media money and sports laundering, their The value has decreased.
While seeing names like DeChambeau and Mickelson jumping to LIV is clearly a loss for the tour, they can point to the remaining movers, including Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Ricky Fog Le, Justin Thomas and McIlroy.
Woods is the ultimate mover, but his inability to play more than some majors due to injuries makes his status more of a “retirement.” It seems unlikely he would change his mind and decide to jump ship, considering he reportedly turned down an offer of more than $500 million from LIV.
Even if he did, Woods wouldn’t be able to play in many events, and there’s no such thing as competitive hitting and smirk golf on his mind, so Woods seems firmly integrated into the tour’s camp.
After Woods, the player who can make or break the PGA Tour is McIlroy. Everyone loves this one-time curly-haired man from Northern Ireland.
His presence in any field makes headlines, and when his name is on the charts, it becomes a must-watch event.
With 21 PGA Tour titles and status as one of four players on the PGA Tour Policy Committee, McIlroy is like an old EF Hutton ad: When Rory McIlroy speaks, people listen.
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These are Monahan and other members of the PGA Tour’s policy committee, both participating and non-playing members.
Basically, McIlroy has the clout and is willing to use it when necessary, but his goal seems very clear – to support the PGA Tour and beat the interlopers when needed.
Like Woods, McIlroy wasn’t interested in the funding LIV could provide, and while the number he may have provided has never been disclosed, it’s clearly in the $200 million or higher category.
Again, like Woods, McIlroy believes in building and doesn’t want to change the pro golf ecosystem.
This leaves LIV either trying to convince McIlroy to ignore his principles and take the money, or find other people who are currently on tour to bring their product as high as possible to McIlroy’s level.
“In terms of what the legacy means, I don’t know, but I just know that this week’s win feels really good,” McIlroy said after the Canadian victory.
Obviously, he doesn’t sound like someone ready to jump ship, and not only Monahan but the rest of his PGA Tour members can count on him.
So, where will LIV go? Obviously, the top needle mover is not available.
Thomas has made his stand firmly that the PGA Tour is the only place he wants to call home.
“I’m very happy with where the PGA Tour is going, and I think it’s going to continue to get better, and sooner,” Thomas said on the eve of the PGA Championship in South Hills in May. “I think a lot of players feel the same way, and that’s very important. We’re very loyal to the tour. They’ve done a lot for us.”
Spieth has kept quiet about it in public, but in private appears to be completely behind the efforts of those who support the Tour.
Fowler is a wild card. He listened to the LIV pitch, and just two weeks ago at the memorial he said he was reluctant to take that step.
“I talked to them for a long time,” said Fowler, 33. “It’s definitely worth a look. It’s not the right move or decision for us at this point, but I’m not saying I’m definitely going to be here or I’m going there. I’m just keeping my options open, look Let’s see how things develop.”
Unlike Woods, McIlroy or Thomas, who all slammed the door on LIV, Fowler was willing to speak, which means sooner or later, Fowler will be in the LIV camp, if history is any judgement.
With three movers, LIV can survive, but they’ll never be able to beat the PGA Tour anytime soon, or they won’t be able to reach their potential without McIlroy. He is the key.
And he’s not going anywhere.