The Round Table: Player sniping, next moves and the Presidents Cup

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.

At the BMW Championship, the DP World Tour’s flagship event, there was considerable sniping amongst players, many who felt LIV Golf players shouldn’t be there. LIV members like Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter fired back that they had as much right to be there as anyone, maybe more than some recent PGA Tour interlopers who have only supported a handful of European Tour events. Westwood has 587 European starts and won multiple Tour Championships and Poulter has played in 392 events. Both have been long-time Ryder Cup stars for Europe, all the while playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. Is the criticism levelled by the likes of Rory McIlroy and Billy Horschel warranted?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I hate to say so, but yes, it is warranted.  These guys all bolted the traditional system for the lure of more money, turning their backs on the traditional system and all it’s given to them, and now they expect to be welcomed back with open arms, for the opportunity of taking more money out of the traditional system, and preventing other, younger players who would otherwise have had that opportunity if the renegades hadn’t insisted on playing.  Shane Lowry pointed out that he had a mate who would’ve played, but Sergio Garcia took a spot in the field, then quit after one round, in his typical selfish, prima donna way.  As I’ve said many times, I have no sympathy for these greedy Saudi Tour players, whose interest is only self-directed.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I like to think this is simple, if you’re qualified to play (or granted an exemption to play) in any event then you can play, full stop. As evidenced this week. Commenting/criticizing otherwise is really just a waste of time. The Tours and organizers will lay out the criteria by which you are eligible to play in their field. Players have input, and the choice to play, but the decisions will be made by the organizers who will be eligible.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: Rory and Billy Horschel are perfect examples of why LIV is needed. Rory’s on-course winnings are $34M and Horschel’s are $20M. They should thank the US PGA TOUR every day.  While it may be true many of the LIV supporters also have very large career earnings, some do not. The PGA TOUR has held a monopoly for a long time. It’s about time they put an end to all the rumours of secrecy and a two-tiered system made up of those who do exceptionally well and those who do OK.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: A lot of the guys had a tonne of those Euro starts as they tried to get on the PGA Tour full time. It’s apples and oranges comparing that “loyalty” with last week’s BMW drop ins. The “crimes” of major golf sponsors don’t come close to meeting the criminal standards of the Saudi regime. And there’s the rub.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Can’t imagine why Westwood and Poulter in particular wouldn’t be welcome at any DP World Tour event. Their past support dwarfs what some of the PGA Tour interlopers have done, including Billy Horschel. Unfortunately, this has gone beyond players doing what’s best for them and their families and now, thanks to the lawsuits, players have taken sides and are mandating loyalty tests. I suspect most golf fans don’t care which tour any of these guys play on, they’re just happy to see a strong field and brilliant play and would be delighted if they all parked the hypocrisy and quit bickering.

Each week we see a new wrinkle in LIV Golf’s battle with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. Who has the next move and what do you expect we’ll see?

Deeks: I’m reading rumours that another Top Ten player is about to leave the PGA Tour.  This is NOT good for golf.

Loughry: Looks like LIV Golf is announcing a top 10 world ranked player to join them shortly. That will make more noise in the short term, and that is likely to continue.

Schurman: If both sides are smart, they will take a low profile for a few months. Let’s all take some time and digest what we have before us. If that isn’t the case, I’d like to see what LIV has planned for the LPGA.

Quinn: As it’s been for the past while, the moves are up to the suits, and it’s the LIV side that’s litigious. More of the same, with the golf world wishing and hoping that the Major mojos would take a stand.

Mumford: Maybe another high-profile defection before the Chicago event but I’m thinking one or two may be waiting until after the Presidents Cup. The momentum looks to be on the LIV Golf side with several big events to play this fall including the team match play finale for $50 million. Meanwhile the PGA Tour has a handful of second tier fall wrap-around tournaments which will feature weak fields and little to no media attention.

The Presidents Cup goes next week at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, NC. Team USA is heavily favoured thanks to multiple International players defecting to LIV Golf. Without top players like Cameron Smith, Louis Oosthuizen, Joaquin Nieman, Abraham Ancer and Marc Leishman, and forced to rely on 8 rookies, does Trevor Immelman’s squad have any chance?

Deeks: I hope so, but I doubt it.  Anybody at that level can play well, and surprise us, but 8 rookies, over three days… call me crazy but my five bob’s going on the Yanks.

Loughry: The Internationals don’t have a chance on paper. They are generally always underdogs with only having 1 win and somehow 1 tie (the rest Team USA winning). But maybe Team USA takes it lightly and leaves the door open. The Internationals really don’t have much pressure, so just go play and see what happens.

Schurman: 1980. Miracle on Ice. It would great to see an upset in what might be the last President’s Cup played. Unless Jay M gets down off his high horse and actually has a discussion with Greg Norman, I see a bleak future for this and the Ryder Cup too.

Quinn: Perhaps the bigger question is: does anyone care? Have never been a fan of this Ryder Cup-wanna-be and only watched the one with Weir in Montreal, and the Eldrick-Els playoff in S.A. Maybe if the forest fire smoke gets worse, or the Jays get rained out, or the Honey Do list miraculously disappears, might watch some of it, until Sunday’s NFL games kick off.

Mumford: No! These International guys aren’t the Miracle Mets. I expect an embarrassingly lopsided win for Team USA. This is as close to a sure thing as it gets in sports.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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