THere’s a major issue with the $4 million (£3.2 million) first prize award being handed out in a tournament that features a starting shotgun. There will be no way of knowing if the winning hit at the Centurion Club on Saturday will dig into Day 1, 7, 13, or any other green game. The traditional beat format as used in mainstream tours may be boring to some but at least people know where to be in the finale.
If this was the only potentially messy component of the LIV series of golf, which debuted in Hertfordshire on Thursday, Greg Norman would have no reason to worry. Instead, confirm it Graeme McDowell and Dustin Johnson will appear In the $25 million event, it sparked the kind of backlash that was inevitable given the endless funding of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The Royal Bank of Canada has ended its sponsorship of both players. Golf, once a safe field for corporate classes, now carries an element of risk like never before.
A number of players were protected by focusing on Phil Mickelson – who Caresses with the Saudis are the stuff of dubious myth — and to a later point Johnson, but when they get to work in the coming days, their role in the gym-washing exercise will be crystal clear.
This cannot legitimately be described in any other terms: there is no commercial sense whatsoever in shelling out huge sums for those who spend time so old round, that it would not catch the eye on any major street in the United Kingdom or, in Johnson’s case, a property of PGA Tour The game grossed about $72 million, set their reputation on fire with this outrageous display of greed.
Golfers are willing pawns in the Saudi rebranding game, which is very unfortunate for the sport’s reputation.
There will be intrigue about what LIV can offer. That it’s ever hosting a tournament is something that many skeptics are puzzled over. No global rating points available, unhelpful ticket prices and no major TV outlet to provide coverage.
The competition lasts 54 holes and has a pro event. In short, this isn’t exactly a march toward the land of the sports revolution. For every Johnson, McDowell, Lee Westwood or Sergio Garcia there’s Blake Windred, Hudson Swafford or Jedea Morgan.
Australian Matt Jones, who has more than $17 million in career earnings, explained his post thus: “There is so much to do with my family, to be able to provide for it. It is purely a business decision for me. I am very happy with the decision I have made.”
And here’s the problem: The world doesn’t know or care anywhere close enough about Jones to criticize this 42-year-old.
Last place in the 48-man field is worth $120,000. The team item carries a $5 million prize money. The players were informed that Tuesday night’s draft party would be a “casual red carpet event with a touch of the audacity of life”. In return, there are no prize money for completing the last event on the PGA Tour and the next tournament on its calendar, the Canadian Open offers $1.5 million to the winner. Mind manipulates.
Mickelson’s involvement has not been confirmed but there are suggestions that could change as early as next week. If he does make it to the UK, his first public statements since he distanced himself from public view in February will be widely expected. Does Mickelson owe it to Norman and his Saudi friends for sparking this level of interest?
The The reaction of the current ecosystem It will be more exciting than the Centurion play. Players will not be in violation of any PGA or DP World Tour regulations until they are shot at in the LIV Tournament. These players will inevitably seek to say – through lawyers – that they are independent contractors and are free to perform wherever they like.
If the LIV Series thrives, or even continues to exist, those presiding over the major leagues and Ryder Cup qualifiers will inevitably have to take a stand. The scope of severe penalties for players is alive and defensible on the basis of Saudi engagement, but those in senior positions must be careful not to lose any elevated moral ground by acting in a dictatorial manner. At the most basic level, this is a threat to two tours working in partnership.
If Norman is going well, the players outside will be jealous enough of the checks given to those with a small part of their talent to want to participate. The LIV issue at the moment is that Johnson is the obvious exception as at least one close to the top of his sport who can be seduced by dollars.
“I don’t think at this point in time I’m in a place in my career where I can risk things like this,” Bryson DeChambeau said. “I am loyal to the family I have built around me with sponsors and everything.
“And the golf world will probably change in some capacity. I don’t know how that happens, it is not my job to do that. I will just continue to play professional golf and enjoy it wherever it takes me, playing with the best players in the world.”
DeChambeau’s feelings illustrate what LIV is facing. That, combined with the prevailing sentiment, has very little competitive validity in its offering. This is a sport, only in a very cliched form than we should expect to know.