Halting the exodus, LIV Golf’s first U.S. event and a report card for Sir Nick

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.

For those that may have thought LIV Golf would fold up and go away earlier this season, sorry, it’s still here and the battle is growing. Matthew Wolff and Carlos Ortiz are expected to leave the PGA Tour this week, while Brooks Koepka and Abraham Ancer bailed last week. In response, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced a number of seismic shifts in his schedule that included eliminating the wrap-around season, adding three big money Fall events for Top 70 players, boosting purses at several invitational events and adding more money to the PIP. Will Monahan’s latest moves be enough to slow or stop the exodus of players?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I’m kinda sorry that Monahan has had to resort to these moves to keep the boys in the barn, but I think he’s shrewd to do so, and better late than never.  No one can accuse the stay-behind players of being greedy, even if the pot has suddenly gotten bigger.  Yes, I think the latest moves will slow the exodus, but at the same time, there’s nothing stopping the Saudis from offering even bigger incentives for players to jump, so the trickle may continue.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: Like everyone else, Monahan is making up rules as he goes along. The problem with his new ‘solutions” is they come with penalties that are also being made up as they go along. The PGA has some very deep issues. Money is only one of them. Transparency is another very big one. Trust is another. It’s interesting that JM has any recourse to present when only a week ago he thought the players should have more loyalty and respect for the history of the tour. He constantly points out that the sponsors of the PGA TOUR are entitled to the strongest field available. At some junction, there will be enough top-performing L1V players who have defected that the top 100 on the PGA TOUR will actually be the top 150. Instead of resorting to his normal plan of action which is to bully everyone he should have had a meeting with Greg Norman to find out exactly what they want and is there a compromise?

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): They are panicking, for sure.  Funny how they were able to just find a stash of money, where is it all coming from?  LIV is certainly gaining steam but still none of the top players (other than DJ) are leaving.  Will that change?  It will be interesting to see.  I can’t see it personally but it’s already gotten busier than I had thought it would.  Is money the only thing drawing them to LIV?  The guys are talking about schedule too and not having to play as many events, but that’s likely just a bunch of nonsense, it’s gotta be all about the money.  So if the PGA Tour is throwing more money at the top players, then that should have an impact.  The thing i hate is that this is just making the rich richer and nobody is helping the struggling touring pro trying to make ends meet on PGA Tour Canada and other developmental tours.  That’s where the money should be going.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Took a break from Putin, Trump, and Norman — self-imposed iso thanks to positive COVID test — to watch the women’s PGA Championship not the LIV lemmings. Still not sure which is more off-putting: watching Lexi Thompson’s weird footwork, lunge, and phoney low-left follow-through, or watching her putt.  And not sure which is more grating: Morgan Pressel’s high-pitched nasal banalities or Chris Cuthbert’s higher-pitched nasal irrelevancies. Toss up, really. On a separate reality level, when the fine print of the LIV life sinks in — especially the schilling the players will have to commit to “earn” their advances — there will be a lot of soul searching, finally. Still, the LIV lineup isn’t ready for prime time, or is past it, and the money that the Tour has miraculously found should keep the quality players in the fold.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): It’s hard to fight guaranteed money. No matter how much MAY be available to win, it’s not the same as having it in the bank. Even Monahan conceded they don’t have enough to go toe to toe with the Saudis. So, they’re going to lose some more players but even though Westwood, Koepka, Mickelson, Garcia et al are gone, believe it or not, soon they will be forgotten as new stars emerge. Upstart leagues have started in other sports, but history has shown that the eventual winner is the original. LIV Golf may be a huge pain in the butt for Monahan now, but it won’t kill the PGA Tour.

The second LIV Golf event will take place this weekend and it will be the first on U.S. soil. There will be a lot of big names from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour playing. The tourney is up against the John Deere Classic, which typically features one of the weaker fields on the PGA Tour schedule. How much interest do you think there will be in the LIV Golf event, and do you plan to tune in? (The telecast will be available on CHCH TV and the LIV Golf site).

Deeks: I doubt that casual golf viewers will be much interested, and I certainly don’t (i.e. won’t) plan on tuning in. I’ve been against the Saudi Tour since its inception and won’t be changing my mind.

Schurman: We are only on week #2 of the LIV Tour and already we are talking about watching it on TV. So much for “I wouldn’t watch anything supported by those murdering ‘Bs’.

Rule: It will attract more eyes than the first event, especially since it seems to be easier to watch now, and there are better names involved.  The JDC doesn’t exactly excite many with its weak field, so maybe more people will watch LIV this weekend  Personally I’ll just spend the time outside, on what should be a beautiful Canada Day Weekend.  Let me know who won on Monday!

Quinn: Will only be watching the growing protests from Pumpkin Ridge members, local politicians and groups, and outraged locals after a Saudi charged with a hit-and-run homicide was spirited out of the country. All this money can’t be washed.

Mumford: The weather forecast is great for the long weekend so no chance I’ll be inside watching golf of any kind. If I can PVR the LIV exhibition, I’ll save it for some dreary afternoon in November.

Nick Faldo, the long-time golf analyst on CBS, announced his retirement last week, which will be effective at the end of this season. His replacement will be former Masters Champion Trevor Immelman, who has been doing spot duty with CBS for a few years now. What kind of mark does Faldo get for his 16 years in the booth and what do you think of the choice of Immelman to replace him?

Deeks: Faldo gradually got better (i.e., less self-centred) over the years, but I won’t miss him.  I’d give him a 6.8/10 mark.  Immelman has done decent work, but he’s never stood apart as someone with a strong personality or insightful commentary.  He certainly wouldn’t have been my first choice to be lead analyst, but I’m sure he’ll be quite competent.  I’d love to see CBS nudge Jim Nantz into retirement (at least from golf), but I’m probably in a minority on that view.  Thank goodness CBS didn’t pick Lanny Wadkins to take over from Faldo; that would’ve been a disaster.

Schurman: Faldo is one of my favourite announcers. I like his insight from the position of #1 player in the World. He has been thorough and extremely knowledgeable, and his pre-show research is second to none. I’m not sure about Immelman but Nick gets a Gold Star.

Rule: I’ve always liked Faldo as an analyst, I think he is very informative, knows the game well and expresses himself well also.  He’ll be missed.  Immelman seems to have a good handle on the analyst role too, and although he’s a bit dry, I think he’ll be a solid replacement for Nick.

Quinn: Liked Faldo from day one, but as with all modern-day talking heads, over exposure took its toll. Appreciated his insights, but that entire crew has fallen into the “talking over each other” Koch school of yakking. So, no legacy there, other than paving the way for another accent in the booth. Americans love British accents, and probably assume Immelman’s a Brit. He’s fixated on saying ‘hole location’, sometimes twice in a sentence, so he won’t change anyone’s mute button routine.

Mumford: In the early years, I never felt like Faldo put a lot of effort into learning the course or connecting with players on regular events – just winging it too much. He was much better at majors. His humour took a bit of getting used to also but once he got over himself and started to be more self deprecating, he was actually pretty entertaining. Overall, I’d give Faldo a B+, not quite in Ken Venturi or Johnny Miller territory but close. As for Immelman, he’s ok so far but I don’t understand the rush to sign him so quickly. It’s not like he’s some hot property that had to be tied up before anyone else got him. He ticks a couple of boxes that CBS likes – foreign accent, major winner – but so do a lot of others. I would have waited until the end of the season to make a decision.

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

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