Dear LIV Golf fans,
Answer honestly. Did you enjoy the Rory McIlroy vs Patrick Reed battle? Was it more entertaining than a 54-hole hit and giggle shotgun start nonsense where everyone finishes at the same time? Wasn’t it amazing to see two of the best players in the world go toe to toe over 72 holes in a traditional golf tournament?
In what felt like the longest week in the history of golf with driving range skirmishes, rain delays, Wednesday starts and Monday finishes, it also felt like one of the most dramatic in recent times.
The Hero Dubai Desert Classic final round was terrific Monday morning entertainment and it begs the question, would it be so bad if the DP World Tour lost the impending legal battle with LIV?
Take what went on in Torrey Pines last week. The Farmers Insurance Open is a classic PGA Tour event which was won by Max Homa.
Great. Homa is an absolute fan favourite and is on an upward curve that will inevitably reach the category of world star. A worthy winner of whom golf fans around the world will be delighted to see win. His rise over the last two years has been remarkable given where he started out from.
En route to winning he beat Jon Rah… Sam Ryder. Hmmmm. OK.
A little bit ho hum.
LIV golfers have been scattered around the DP World Tour over the last year or so with Adrian Otaegui becoming the first LIV player to win on the DP World Tour at the Andalucia Masters, at Valderrama, which is now a LIV Golf venue…
But while tensions have been simmering behind closed doors and on the practice tee at the big DP World Tour events it’s never really come to the boil on the course, on a Sunday.
As it stands, LIV golfers are eligible to play on the DP World Tour with the European contingent eligible to qualify for Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup team in September.
Despite most LIV golfers citing their reason to defect to the Saudi backed tour ‘to play less golf,’ they now seem intent on playing as much golf as they possibly can to get world ranking points and DP World Tour starts.
As far as the PGA Tour goes, LIV golfers are very much out of sight, out of mind. On the DP World Tour, if they aren’t in contention to win, the feeling is the same. Until now.
It looked until Monday morning, that golf fans wouldn’t get to see one of the LIV players battling at the summit of a big competition until one of the four major championships, but Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed gave an insight into the drama that could unfold if this happened on a regular basis.
The final round of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic had everything. If it wasn’t sport it would be a superhero movie with McIlroy looking to stop the villainous Reed from taking over the city.
So often viewed as the lesser of the three tours, the DP World Tour was the real winner in this hate triangle.
Which begs the question, if LIV players are permitted to play on the DP World Tour when the legal issues come to an end, will it enhance the viewing quality? Will it also be to the detriment of the PGA Tour?
In my opinion LIV golfers should not be allowed to play on the DP World Tour, they have made their bed and they should lie in it. You can’t have it both ways. Should they win their legal battle with Keith Pelley and co next month, there will of course be issues. But from a viewing point of view, this once proud tour with capacity crowds, stellar names and bumper events would get up from off its knees and be a compelling product.
LIV might not have taken McIlroy, Rahm, Thomas, Morikawa, Spieth etc, but what they have done is strip the common golfing landscape of the game’s most compelling characters, most of whom don’t have many redeeming qualities but would make the DP World Tour far more entertaining if things run a certain way over the coming weeks and months.
This was box office viewing of a Monday morning. The kind of entertainment where you sneak off to the toilet for five minutes and don’t come back for an hour.
The two main protagonists to this story could not have been better. Rory in his own mind no doubt representing world golf and all that is apparently good and pure in the sport. Then Reed, the archetypal bad guy who loves to be hated. The fella in the LIV hat who is actually a bloody good golfer to watch with a very traditional style of play.
It did play out like a superhero movie. When Reed goes one up on Rory, the majority of the golfing world gasped in disbelief that the worst possible scenario might come to fruition. But McIlroy, undoubtedly spurred on by the LIV controversy over the last twelve months came to save the day. And how.
Reed will now return to a LIV Golf event in all but name at the Saudi International in Saudi Arabia which if last year is anything to go by: will be played in front of feck all spectators on god knows what television station, if any.
LIV may be moving to an obscure American television network with their future on a TV screen as cloudy as the deal they signed and they may be able to buy whoever they want for their ‘league,’ but will they ever match the chaos and entertainment that unfolded in the most irony infused environment that is the Middle East, as Phil puts it?