Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
The PGA Tour has released its 2022-2023 schedule with huge increases in prize money for a handful of tournaments. Even bigger changes are coming the following year when they ditch the Fall schedule and add some unofficial big money events for top players. Will it be enough to halt the flow of players to LIV Golf?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I sure hope so. I’d hate to think there re even more greedy, completely self-interested players with no moral code who are contemplating jumping over to the Saudi Tour. I didn’t watch the Saudi Tour this past weekend (and will never), but I understand the “crowds” (sic) were very sparse. I can only hope the TV audience was equally small. If the Saudis come to realize that golf-washing their justifiably despicable public image isn’t working, maybe they’ll abandon the whole project. But even in that unlikely scenario, I wouldn’t want to see the PGA Tour welcome back the rebels. The door should remain locked behind them.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: One way to stop the exodus of players is for Jay Monahan to stop flinging mud. Why doesn’t he simply meet with Greg Norman to find out if there is any common ground? Jay M has completely messed this up from the start through arrogance, ignorance and a superiority attitude. He thought all he had to do was threaten the players and just as has been done for the past 30 or 40 years and they would crawl into line. But the good ole days of respecting your predecessors and showing loyalty out of blind faith are gone. Jay M and his hand-selected PGA TOUR Board Members have hidden the ‘keys to the vault’ and the ‘golden goose’ for far too long. Sure, the LIV TOUR is competing with megabucks because that is what most people understand but the PGA TOUR players have a very long list of complaints which have basically met with “sit down and shut up. You’ve never had it so good and where else can you play”? Voila, many millions in NEW money is appearing and the story is “we’ve been planning this for some time”. BS! This is in response to real competition. The jig is up. The days of the monopoly are over. The Feudal System is done.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: It’s fighting fire with a squirt gun when it comes to the money — Eldrick said ‘no’ to how much? And even though most Tour guys if asked the name of their local newspaper might say USA Today or their favourite network would say FOX, there has been enough out there to filter down even to their level of awareness. They aren’t going in unarmed when asked about 9/11 or assassinations or imprisonments or women’s rights or sport washing. Anyone who jumps now — good young players, no one cares about Stenson level past it guys — will have a whole generation, their generation, to answer to.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Not likely. The guys that are leaving are getting up-front money, playing for bigger purses and getting more time to spend with their families. That looks a lot more attractive than a long-drawn-out schedule with no guarantees. There may be little or no movement until the FedEx Cup is over but then I’d expect more big names to jump. Jay Monahan can tweak the PGA Tour, threaten players and play hardball all he wants but LIV Golf can’t be bullied. He needs to come to some kind of accommodation with the upstart league before he loses more marquee names, and it starts to affect his sponsors.
Davis Love III suggested one way to kill LIV Golf would be for the PGA Tour players to boycott one of the majors if the LIV Golf players were permitted to play. Do you think a boycott would work or is it even possible?
Deeks: No, I don’t think it would work, because the PGA Tour players wouldn’t want to pass on the opportunity to win a major. The only practical solution is for the four major organizers to agree that none of them will allow LIV players unless they have sufficient “points” from playing the various participating tours/organizations’ tournaments. Which, of course, they won’t.
Schurman: What a stupid idea! So, the PGA TOUR players boycott the Majors while those who are both PGA TOUR members and L1V TOUR members are eligible to play. Who will round out the field? Will the organizers go down the World Rankings List to number 300 to get a full field? Or will the events simply be cancelled? Davis Love is trying to show solidarity and loyalty; those battles are already lost. He made his multi-millions in a different era and his career is over. If he was in his prime, I wonder how much Saudi $$$$ it would take to attract him?
Quinn: Definitely the first time Love the Three has said anything that got the attention of anyone. But love (so to speak) his tossing down the gauntlet to the Tour players, asking them to man up. Walked a picket line for a couple of weeks once — brain trust of the neophyte guild picked mid-winter Toronto as the ideal time — and this might have that chilling solidarity undercurrent strong enough to alert the self-absorbed that this is real. Like it. Well done 3. It’s possible, if they man up.
Mumford: Not sure what Love was smoking at the time, but he probably realized as soon as the words were out of his mouth that a boycott has about as much chance as a Beatles reunion. All it would take is one player to break ranks, realizing he had a much better chance in a weakened field, and the solidarity would be over. Not sure a boycott would sit well with golf fans either. I think many fans would be happy to see LIV golfers at a major. As I keep saying, let’s have the best against the best, regardless of where they come from.
The AIG Women’s Open kicks off this week from Muirfield in Scotland, which until recently didn’t permit women members. It’s the final major of the season on the LPGA Tour and features a stellar field. What’s the most compelling storyline from this tournament?
Deeks: You just mentioned it… the fact that Muirfield is welcoming a major women’s tournament. I think it’s terrific, although I wonder if the women will be required to wear a jacket and tie in the Dining Room. The other compelling story will be Brooke Henderson winning her third major, and as a result, Player of the Year honours.
Schurman: Any Major event in Scotland is always about the course and of course, the weather. So, my question to you is “When does LIV reach out to the LPGA players”? I have written numerous times on this blog suggesting a ‘mixed’ Ryder Cup style format. Here is the opportunity to grow the game around the world. If you think nobody is watching LIV on TV, think again. They (the Saudis) are negotiating to buy a TV station to broadcast all of their professional sports just like TSN did in the beginning.
Quinn: It’s the finale of a great run of great events at storied Scottish courses. What a wonderful summer of links golf, celebration of golf in the game’s homeland, and what a wonderful summer where ski jackets are often not enough in July. Played Muirfield in late August. From the lounge, in jackets and ties, whisky and cigarettes at hand, watched the next group play the 18th in a blizzard that carpeted the green white. We’d finished in sunshine. Oh, and yes, it would be lovely if Henderson kept it going.
Mumford: For Canadians, Brooke Henderson will be the main story. She’s at the top of her game right now, coming off a win in another major and looks like the things that bothered her at the beginning of the season (change to a shorter driver, change to a cross-handed putting grip) are no longer an issue. Of interest to the rest of the world should be the dinosaurs at stuffy old Muirfield finally letting in female members and consequently getting back in the R&A rota.