The Round Table: a backdoor to Augusta, Netflix and who’s jumping next?

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.

After the OWGR turned down LIV Golf’s application for world ranking points, a number of players and many in the media suggested that golf’s majors wouldn’t have the best players in the world if LIV golfers weren’t included. Currently only five LIV players are exempt into all four majors in 2024 while a few have  past champion status beyond that. It has been suggested that a specified number of LIV players could be exempt each year based on their LIV Tour standing. How do you feel about that?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I disagree.  As I’ve said before, the LIV defectors knew the conditions of their leaving when they left the PGA Tour, and unless they had prior exemptions (e.g., past Champion of a particular major), I don’t believe they should be given any exemptions into any majors, ever.  I think LIV is a farce, and the defectors should not be rewarded (or exempted) for their greed.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Some of the best players in the world are indeed on the LIV Tour and should be at Majors if the goal of those Majors is to have the best field/players in the world playing them. But I don’t think LIV should be awarded “x” number of spots into Majors, it gets harder to judge the quality of player the further down the list you get within their current setup. There is a very limited path for them now. They could enter the US Open through their qualifying process, qualify for the Championship, then win it, and you’re exempt for the Majors going forward. I think the other Majors need to consider their entry and qualifying process to allow “exceptions” to earn their way into their fields. I’m not defending LIV players, they knew this was a consequence of their decision o move to LIV, and that there was a possibility it would take some time to figure all this out. They can whine about it all they want.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: This is such a quagmire I doubt there is an acceptable solution. Everyone hates someone. Perhaps the answer is to hold a qualifying round before each Major just for LIV players.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: They have dart boards in the LIV players (sic) lounges? How are they going to pick a number of ‘exemptees’? After 18, 36, or 54 holes? They should just base it on the leader in offshore bank accounts. That would simplify it. LIV ranking meaning anything didn’t exist on defection day. Nothing has changed.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): The majors are all about the best competing against the best. Any time the field is weakened because certain players are excluded strays from that lofty objective, so getting some non-exempt LIV players into the field would be positive. We can argue about how many and which ones, but I’d suggest Top 10 on the money list, some of whom will already have some Major status.

Netflix has announced a new live event called the Netflix Cup that will air on November 14th. It features four PGA Tour players (Rickie Fowler, Max Homa, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas) alongside four Formula 1 drivers (Alex Albon, Pierre Gasley, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris). There must be an audience for these celebrity match things as they keep churning them out. Who’s watching?

Deeks: Not me.

Loughry: I think this is a cool sport crossbreed that should bring both fan bases together. I know quite a few Formula 1 drivers love playing golf, and it seems Rory and a few others are F1 fans, so this makes some sense. I’m a closet F1 fan, but unfortunately have never invested heavily in following the whole circuit for a full year (usually 3 to 5 races a year). I really enjoyed the Drive to Survive Netflix series, so I will park time to watch this event.

Schurman: I couldn’t care less! Garbage golf and garbage TV! Bring back the Skins Games at $1M per hole.

Quinn: Netflix used to have a sort of ‘family and friends’ thing to inflate membership numbers. They need to do that again because only (close) family and (still-talking-to-you) friends have to watch this.

Mumford: This is Big Brother meets the Real Housewives of Hendersonville, in other words, the worst kind of reality TV. I like to watch professional athletes do what they do best, not hack around in another sport. No doubt this will spawn a sequel where Rickie, Max, Collin and Justin try to outrun one another at 200 mph. From there to a mini-series where they all join Dancing with the Stars. Please pass the remote.

Phil Mickelson (remember him?) has stated that there will be a number of players from both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour that will sign with LIV Golf before the upcoming 2024 season. This in spite of everything the two main tours have done to increase purses and retain their top talents and the recent denial of World Ranking points to LIV Golf. Do you think Phil is correct?  

Deeks: I doubt it.  Why would any regular Tour player leave the mothership now, with the whole future of the LIV Tour in question?   It’s like leaving a promising career in investment management to become an Uber driver (albeit a rich one.)

Loughry: Phil isn’t wrong, there will be a number of players that sign to replace those LIV Players that have been relegated. Whether they are actually marquee/significant signings/players (superstars) remains to be seen. I doubt any will be at this point, I think most are in a holding pattern, wait to see what transpires and unfolds before making any significant playing career decisions.

Schurman: Now that PGA Tour players have seen who earns the money and how much it is you can bet your house there are many who will at least listen to the sales pitch.

Quinn: Phil’s wrong, again. The only mildly amusing things that have come out of this whole LIV debacle have been Phil’s attempts to rewrite history and reality (guess he hasn’t had time to read that book detailing his gambling and ethics challenges); the World Golf award to LIV for ‘Innovation’; and the $$$$$ breakdown of LIV’s merciful finale. The captain (de Chambeau, or as he would have it, DeChambeau) going on about “team” was very giggle-worthy, but hilarious was the final accounting. While Bryson pumped hot air, the LIV accountants pointed out that his Crushers (oh, please) team’s $14 M prize was subject to a $8.4 M “operating expenses” fee. Now that is funny.

Mumford: I think Phil is right. There are a number of players that when they are honest with themselves know that they’re not going to win majors or dominate on the PGA Tour. So, the opportunity to do a Pat Perez and get filthy rich playing fewer tournaments has to be appealing. And maybe for a couple of elite players who already have 5-year exemptions into the majors, the allure of generational wealth might be too strong to resist, especially now that Jay has backpedalled on his evil Saudi rant.

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

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