Mutt & Jeff’s LIV report card for year one

Ivan Morris
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Team Captain Dustin Johnson of 4 Aces GC and caddie Austin Johnson celebrate at LIV Golf Invitational - Miami (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via Getty Images)

Mutt – Imagine that? Dustin Johnson has just earned $35-million for 21-rounds of golf with LIV. Laughing all the way to the bank, he is – not caring two Saudi figs about the OWGR points he has sacrificed. Dustin knows success in golf is not guaranteed, that “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush”. Sentiment does not pay the bills.

Jeff Dustin has damaged his legacy. It’s major wins that count not ‘pots of money’. Golf followers seem largely put off by the obscenity of the scale of money that is being doled out for perceived inferior competitions and they also question where the money has come from?

Mutt – Golf is an unforgiving game devoid of sentiment. Legacy does not put bread on the table. Dustin appeared deliriously happy at the conclusion of LIV’s final tournament in Florida last week. I never saw anybody with a bigger, toothier grin. He gives every indication that he is revelling in it. I can see quite a few more defectors moving over to LIV – especially if (and when) OWGR points are awarded to them. I cannot see how they won’t be. There are too many precedents of far inferior tours worldwide that are granted OWGR status.

Jeff – I wouldn’t be so sure. LIV, by all accounts, had a better first year than I ever expected but without proper TV coverage it won’t survive. Personally, I have zero interest in watching LIV. The average golf fan like me cares little about LIV and is only interested in the four majors. If LIV golfers aren’t in the majors they’ll be forgotten about very quickly. Qualifying for OWGR points can take up to two years. That’s a lot of points gone down the drain.

Mutt – You are missing out on something that is new, fresh, and exciting – much more so than I ever thought it would be. The TV transmissions on YouTube and LIV’s own website have been novel and by and large entertaining. The competitions have been close, and the golf played of the highest quality. The coaxing of big name players over to LIV has worked far better than anyone in The PGA Tour or DPW Tour thought. They may have made a mistake in under-estimating LIV’s determination to succeed and preparedness to ‘spend big’ to achieve what they want. Who would have thought that Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson (all major champions), Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio García, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson (some major champions and all potential European Ryder Cup Captains) would have signed up? The majority of them it would seem, walking away from any future Ryder Cup involvement? Let’s face it, it hasn’t been a bad first year. One can expect more newsworthy signings before 2023 rolls around too.

Jeff – I cannot get past the awfulness of sportswashing and the ruthlessness of the Saudi regime though. All I can see is a bunch of multi-millionaire golfers becoming significantly richer. The public may be aware of LIV’s existence but not many of them would know anything about the seven events that have been played so far (that’s $5-million per event into Johnson’s Bank Account for those not so good at maths). Limited fields, 54-holes competitions and shotgun starts do not add up to credible professional golf for me.

Mutt – Why not? Pro golf is about money and making a living. Forget the players, talk to the caddies working for LIV golfers. They love it and have never received better treatment (or better pay). Professional golf is no bed of roses. It involves a Monday journey to the tournament site. If travelling time allows an effort to familiarise oneself with the course might also be squeezed in? Tuesday: practice, play 18 holes. Wednesday: Pro-am (a lengthy process for some and a long day of boring practice for the others). Thursday, Friday: the competition. Depending on making the cut and the competition continues for another two days. Then, travel home to get one’s laundry done or, onto the next venue to repeat the process while many are losing money! I ask you what kind of an existence is that? LIV is like Heaven compared to it!

Jeff – I wonder is there any chance of peace breaking out between the tours and some sort of a compromise being reached? I’m taken aback by the vitriol that has been hurled back and forth. The big personalities on both sides appear unwilling to budge.

Mutt – No sign of it yet. A lot will depend on what The Masters Committee decides around Christmas time when they send out their invitations. It is still an invitation only event even if one must qualify to be invited. The PGA Tour remains resolute and has made extensive changes to its schedule and prize funds to keep its members happy but there are bound to be more defections to a perceived happier, easier, richer life.

It would be a ‘poor look’ for golf if the PGA Tour and DPW Tour are seen as closed shops protecting monopoly positions. In law, they might be on tricky ground. The inferior depth of the LIV fields vis-a-vis its primary adversaries is already being mitigated by LIV raising its number of member/entries in its tournaments to 60 in 2023 and the PGA Tour, in reply, launching its highly-exclusive, thirteen, limited field, ‘elevated events’ with $20-million purses and 20 guaranteed places for the ‘secret’ beneficiaries of the Player Impact Program popularity contest. Talk about walking yourself into trouble with your eyes wide open!

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