If the PGA Tour is going to copy LIV, it need not be so obvious

Ronan MacNamara

Jay Monahan (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR)

Ronan MacNamara

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Having seen what golf on the PGA Tour will look like in 2024, the scene where Mr Bean is sitting an exam and tries to copy from the person beside him comes to mind…

We’ve all been there, you walk into that classroom with the works of WB Yeats memorised inside out, left and right, backwards and forwards because he always comes up in Irish poetry. You flick to the poetry questions and bam, it’s Dickinson, Plath, Frost and Bishop.

You know you’re done and you frantically – while keeping a modicum of discretion – glance to the person beside you looking for any sense of inspiration, because all you took from the countless lessons on Plath was that she stuck her head in an oven.

The PGA Tour is set to have ’10 ish’ limited field events with no cut as part of their rejigged elevated events schedule which seems very much like copying the homework of another golf tour – which has been lambasted for doing the same thing – but making sure it doesn’t look the same.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

Sport is about competition, which is what LIV Golf is not, for my money. So, why are the PGA Tour trying to launch some sort of hybrid version?

Sport is developing an unhealthy obsession with closed shops, adding layers to the top rather than building from the bottom up.

What about the Leicester City, the Crazy gang, Todd Hamilton and the YE Yang stories? What about Seamus Power and his rags to riches story? Shouldn’t other players get the chance to see their equally hard work come to fruition like it has for Power? Top-30 in the world now and into all the big events.

The greatest thing about golf is that the player ranked 300th in the world can beat the top-10 players in the world on any given day and win a PGA Tour event. I love that Nick Taylor and Keith Mitchell had opportunities to win the two recent elevated events when they were pushing the then world number ones Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm down the stretch.

Football has been teetering on the edge of a European Super League for a few years now and there are only so many times ESL advances can be resisted before the door finally cracks open.

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez has made the argument that Real Madrid might face Liverpool and Manchester United once in a blue moon – although Liverpool fans might now be growing sick of the sight of the Madristas. The idea of the ESL would be to make Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus etc regular fixtures. But everyone needs a bit of Burnley in their lives, right?

The designated events on the PGA Tour are great. Because not all the top dogs show up for the WGC’s, outside of the majors and Fed Ex Cup playoffs the designated events are sprinkled throughout the year bringing the top-20, 25 players together.

Union Berlin are a fan owned club in the Bundesliga, completely breaking the mould in attempting to chase down Bayern Munich in the title race. Sport loves an underdog story and limiting these designated events to the top-70 players closes the window on any underdog success. Where does the next Nick Taylor come from? Scottie Scheffler referenced the Canadian when speaking about the depth on the PGA Tour, well reducing the fields surely reduces the depth?

Having the top players play almost exclusively together on a regular basis will appeal to many, but will also appear as boring and mundane to some. The four majors should stand alone, like any other individual sport – tennis, the top-16 in snooker – but to just close off the entire shop regarding the actual tour where players earn a living from their profession is wrong.

As far as the no cuts go, they are fine a few times a year. But do the fans really want to see Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm or Scottie Scheffler going through the motions, at 8.50 on a Saturday morning teeing off 12 shots behind the lead? No.

Missing cuts is important for the growth of a professional golfer. Take Justin Rose for example and hopefully our own John Murphy in the future.

As a fan who regularly gripes when seeing Peter Malnati at +3 on a Sunday hole out from 142 yards on the television, I will show the same level of disdain if it’s McIlroy, Rahm, Thomas or Tiger Woods. Yep I said it.

How many of the top stars will miss the cut this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational? Enough to stop you watching on television? Enough to stop fans paying at the gate? No.

Remember the 2019 Open Championship? The height of the drama on Friday was watching Rory McIlroy fight and scrap to try and make the cut. You’d swear by the atmosphere he was trying to win the thing on a Sunday. Go figure.

While the designated events have been enjoyable and have worked. They have stripped the regular PGA Tour events of their soul so far. The Honda Classic used to be a staple PGA Tour event but last week it was like a midweek FA Cup tie at St Mary’s in Southampton. Grim with the odd murmur.

Thankfully two feel good stories in Chris Kirk and Marcel Siem in India saved a mundane weekend of golf.

LIV Golf got its second season underway after a rather ho-hum off season where they didn’t get any stars whose absence would have come as a blow to the PGA Tour. So why the sudden mirroring of LIV? For two years Jay Monahan has waxed lyrical about history and tradition and cuts. By cutting off the avenues to these designated events, the current stars are protected while the stars of tomorrow are quashed.

Max Homa ranted for four minutes straight this week on the benefits of these new events next year. Homa is the new star, the new kid on the block after battling early adversity in his career but if these designated limited field events came around three years ago, would Homa be the golfer he is today?

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