LIV Golf funded by ‘endless’ Saudi money and fronted by Greg Norman with the stated aim to ‘supercharge the game of golf’ seems more hellbent on antagonising and disrupting the members of the status quo than achieving its own laudable aims.
Imagine – all of this money going into 54-holes tournaments: invited fields of 48 players; no cuts; US$4million for first place and $120,000 for last place as compared with this week’s PGA Championship (a major) having 156 competitors; a cut below the top 70 and ties; a not to be sneezed at total purse of $20 million; $3.58 million (for the winner) and $41,000 for 70th place.
Victory in ‘the PGA’ also brings a five-year exemption into the other three majors and the Players’ Championship as well as a huge haul of world ranking points; so important for automatic entry to future top events.
As a self-employed, independent contractor, Lee Westwood who has already declared that he will be participating in the first LIV event from June 9-11 at The Centurion Club outside London, says he is entitled to play wherever he likes. Umm? Surely, as a member of another tour he must operate under their rules and regulations? If that tour says he cannot play in LIV events – well, he just can’t. Or, can he?
Success brings its own problems and nothing lasts forever. I have always said that too much money rather than too little of it was the biggest threat to professional sports of all types.
The PGA Tour may have passed the point where it has become ’too rich’ for its own good. However, the Saudi’s LIV Tour is a lot richer. Any money war with LIV can’t be won and will (inevitably) upset the existing stability and security of the PGA and DPW Tours.
Paying millions to mercenary (soon to be retired) golfers doesn’t make sense. Boosting the pursers and guaranteeing starting places to the top rankers in the third tier of pro golf tours who are shut out of ‘the action’ by the lack of places and opportunities offered by exclusionary, all-exempt tours does.
If LIV was really smart and really does want to live up to its own slogan: ‘To Supercharge the Game of Golf’ and be in it for the long haul, surely it should consider investing some of its millions in the independent Asian Tour as well as unaffiliated secondary and third tier tours worldwide – not to mention financing teaching academies and playing facilities for grassroots golf where there aren’t any? To pump one of its billion dollars into the grassroots that Norman says he has available would definitely be a ‘game changer’ capable of supercharging golf.
If enough players take the Saudi’s ‘easy and thoroughly washed, dirty money’ some could be as rich as anyone could ever want to be in a few years while the PGA Tour weathers the storm without them? Not a comfortable prospect.
It’s no wonder there are rumblings of ‘going to law’, suspensions, fines and sanctions. The PGA and DPW Tours have no choice but to stand firm.