LIV Golf and the PGA Tour are both driven by greed
That’s pretty much how I feel about the PGA Tour’s power struggle with the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf. The PGA Tour is funded by billionaire corporations – including US TV networks – and played by multi-millionaire players, whose slogan might as well be “Show me the money”.
The new tour, with Greg Norman as the lead, is being funded by the Saudi government, perhaps best described by Phil Mickelson, the new tour’s most prominent player, as “scary mothers—–” .
Go ahead, pick a side. Greedy to the hilt vs scary motherf—–s.
The greed and malice of the tour can’t come close to the evils that have been perpetrated by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – including the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – but you’re not exactly sleeping with angels by siding on the side of PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and his gang of not-so-joyful men.
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That’s not to say that guys like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who turned down hundreds of millions of dollars in Saudi blood money, shouldn’t be applauded — not so much for their loyalty to the tour as for their understanding that their legacy would be changed forever if they joined the Saudis.
Mickelson certainly did. He will no longer be considered just a Hall of Fame golfer who has won six majors and 45 PGA Tour titles. He will not captain the 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black as had been ordered for years. His decision to side with the Saudis will be in the first two paragraphs of his life story.
The same goes for great champions like Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Graeme McDowell and Charl Schwartzel, who won the first LIV tournament last weekend outside London and won more than 4 millions of dollars.
Everyone has clearly decided that money is more important than inheritance.
What is laughable is the profanity of the LIV-ites about Why they do that. Norman keeps talking about “developing the game”, sounding like an old-school record that got stuck. Mickelson and the others say much the same thing when discussing their opportunity to transform the sport.
Please. This is an opportunity to do one thing: get very rich. For Norman, it’s also a chance to finally avenge the defeat he suffered at the hands of tour and then commissioner Tim Finchem in 1994, when he tried to start something called the World Golf Tour. Norman’s idea was to have huge purses, no discounts, guaranteed money and only invite the elite or near-elite of the game. Finchem managed to shoot down the idea by fielding corporate sponsors to create the world golf championships: events with small courses, without cups, big purses and guaranteed money.
Did he steal Norman’s idea to keep his star players online? You bet. Did Norman ever forget? Absolutely not. Norman therefore has two motivations: money and revenge.
Everyone is there for the money.
McIlroy and Garcia are good friends; they were in each other’s marriages. But when Garcia told McIlroy the reason for joining the LIV Tour was “so we can finally get paid what we deserve,” McIlroy burst out laughing. “Sergio,” he said, “We are golfers. We don’t deserve get paid anything.
So let’s not say nobody in golf includes real life. McIlroy understands.
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Let’s also not act as if the Saudis are the only ones spending huge amounts of money trying to wash the blood off their hands. Or that these golfers are the first to take blood money.
The NBA makes hundreds of millions of dollars doing business with China. The International Olympic Committee has voluntarily taken the Olympics to Putin’s Russia and China twice this century. FIFA, the football governing body, had a problem organizing the World Cup in Qatar: the weather in July. Human rights abuses were clearly not a concern.
For golf, the question now is whether the LIV turns out to be a blip that makes a handful of players very rich and then leaves, or if it continues to disrupt the sport. And Augusta National’s almighty green jackets may hold the key to the sport’s future.
The US Open is allowing LIV players to compete here at the Country Club this week because the US Golf Association says it believes that as an Open they are unable to ban players who have qualified. The Royal and Ancient, which organizes the British Open, could take the same position ahead of next month’s championship in St. Andrews.
That leaves the PGA Championship – run by the PGA of America – and the Masters. Seth Waugh, the PGA’s executive director, is close friends with Monahan dating back to when Waugh ran Deutsche Bank and Monahan was director of the Boston tournament sponsored by Waugh’s bank. He would definitely like to support Monahan and the tour.
But if the Opens continue to be open and the green jackets decide not to ban players from the breakaway, Waugh would be alone among the majors – an untenable position.
Mickelson, Garcia, Reed and Schwartzel are all former Masters champions who should be denied their trip to Magnolia Lane by Augusta National President Fred Ridley and fellow members if they side with the Tour. Augusta National is known for letting the world know that no one is telling them what to do. That’s why, even though the tour has a rule dating back to 1990 that no club can hold a PGA Tour event if it discriminates against anyone, Augusta National only admitted women in 2012.
Nobody in the gulf meddle with the lords of Augusta. This is why the club’s decision on LIV will be so critical. If LIV players can play in all four majors, they don’t need the PGA Tour.
Even now, the tour is in trouble. Many title sponsors at grassroots events are already less than thrilled with their domains. If LIV survives and continues to attract stars, Monahan will find himself in serious title sponsor trouble. And nothing is more important to the tour than satisfying the title sponsors.
For now, the two sides will continue to shoot at each other, with the millionaires fighting against the billionaires.