LIV is not about golf. It’s all about revenge :: WRALSportsFan.com

Columnist’s be aware: This was written forward of Tuesday’s studies that four-time Grand Slam champion Brooks Koepka would be a part of LIV Golf and play subsequent week in Portland, Oregon.

In an ideal world, we may at all times hold sports activities and politics separate. In fact, the world is not good, so we’re at all times going to see these two worlds intersect. Seismic occasions like Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier in Main League Baseball in 1947 are inherently political and display how the world of sports activities is invariably forward of the actual world on the subject of social progress.

Due to this fact, I’m in favor of blurring the athletic-political traces. Hold coming.

Now, to the matter at hand. We’re in an LIV Golf Sequence event and there have been extra gamers saying plans to depart the PGA Tour and participate within the first US-based occasion in Portland, Oregon later this month. As I have been saying repeatedly because the official information broke about gamers like Dustin Johnson opting into this new “tour”, that is NOT going away anytime quickly. The fields will solely get higher. And the PGA Tour ought to be very proactive in the way it responds to this existential menace.

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LIV Golf is a collection of massive cash tournaments performed on three continents with the following seven being unfold over a 4 month interval. The following event is scheduled for June 30-July 2, adopted by one other in late July in New Jersey. In whole, 5 of the remaining seven tournaments will probably be held in the USA. One will probably be in Thailand and one in Saudi Arabia.

The fountain…

Oh sure, Saudi Arabia. That is the place I’ll point out the funding supply as soon as, and as soon as solely, and contact on the third rail of this matter. The Saudi Royal Household’s public funding fund, price $620 billion, has financed this collection. How a lot of that whole will probably be devoted to LIV is anybody’s guess, however it’s secure to say the full is within the $4-5 billion vary.

Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau have already been assured a mixed $300 million to $400 million only for agreeing to play, in keeping with printed studies. CEO Greg Norman instructed the world that Tiger Woods was additionally provided a “excessive 9 figures,” however Woods turned the provide down.

Wait, Tiger Woods turned down $500 million? Might you flip down half a billion?

Fields are 48 gamers deep, nobody comes free, so it is a secure guess that start-up prices are within the neighborhood of $1.5 billion for entrants.

As for the prize cash, Charl Schwartzel gained and took residence $4.75 million from a $25 million jackpot throughout final week’s inaugural occasion in England. That whole represents greater than 20% of what he earned in 11 seasons on the PGA Tour. It was the most important payday in sports activities historical past. In distinction, $17.5 million was the full purse at this weekend’s US Open, a rise of $5 million from final yr. And, Matt Fitzpatrick’s $3.15 million winner’s stake marks the most important payout in main event historical past.

LIV’s $25 million is split amongst 48 gamers. The USGA fund, $7.5 million much less, was divided amongst 64 gamers who certified for the weekend. The 92 who didn’t make the reduce acquired nothing. LIV would not have a court docket, so should you’re within the area, you get a test, plus the show-up assure.

Andy Ogeltree, who gained the US Newbie Championship in 2019, graduated from Georgia Tech and turned professional the next yr, has earned lower than $40,000 in components of three PGA Tour seasons. He performed within the first LIV match, completed forty eighth, with a complete of 24 over par, and “gained” $120,000.

LIV Golf financing is bottomless. The whole purse is $255 million for 8 occasions in comparison with the PGA Tour’s $427 million at stake throughout 47 tournaments and that whole is up greater than 15% from final yr. That the cash comes instantly from the Saudi authorities, acknowledged as one of many world’s main human rights violators, is a part of the dialog and everybody who chooses to take part is free to contemplate that truth.

For the aim of this story, we are going to depart this a part of the dialog apart. I’m not eager about eliminating all of the whatabouts and false equivalences used to justify the funding supply. Simply say you give a fuck. Sufficient with the “effectively, they did” protection. You might be now not 4 years previous. Additionally, that is for another person to put in writing. We’ll restrict this to sports activities, as a few of you snowflakes would like.

The justification…

Norman, a 20-time PGA Tour winner, 2-time Open champion and member of the World Golf Corridor of Fame, is the chief of this new tour. From the second he was introduced as CEO, he spoke of LIV as an “additive” to the golf schedule. He gushed about “rising the sport” and offering alternatives for the hundreds of golf professionals on tour.

First, there isn’t a entity extra devoted to offering alternatives for golf professionals than the PGA Tour. There are 42 official PGA Tour tournaments throughout the complete season of a yr. There are additionally a further 50 occasions unfold throughout the three improvement circuits the Tour owns and manages: Korn Ferry, PGATour LatinAmerica and PGATour Canada.

Along with that, there are well-known excursions in Europe (DP World Tour), Australia, South Africa, Japan and Asia, which give alternatives for gamers.

One factor skilled golfers don’t lack is alternative.

Nobody has but defined how LIV is rising the sport. To be truthful, they do not should do something for the game past internet hosting 8 entertaining tournaments. Properly, 7 should you depend the primary loud night breathing fest that befell 10 days in the past. It isn’t their job to create extra golfers or golf followers or to provide again. However, when Norman used “develop the sport”, effectively, that is what that might imply they usually haven’t any intention of doing that past taking part in. Which, once more, is ok.

As for LIV being an “add-on” to the present professional calendar. The preliminary program was purported to be for 15 occasions. That was narrowed right down to eight when it turned clear that discovering sufficient gamers that most of the people would acknowledge was going to be extra of a problem than initially thought. However, subsequent yr’s schedule is for 10 occasions with 14 already on the schedule for 2024 and 2025.

That is not “additive”. That is a full schedule. LIV isn’t the icing on the cake, it’s a 7 layer double chocolate cake, lined with sizzling chocolate, on high of the cake.

The common greatest participant on the PGA Tour performs round 20-25 occasions per yr. It is advisable to play 15 to take care of your standing. All 4 majors (The Masters, PGA Championship, US Open and Open Championship) depend, as do the three season-ending playoff occasions. Thus, in principle, a participant may enter as few as 8 “common” Tour occasions, play all 4 majors, and whereas advancing to the 30-player Tour Championship, keep his Tour membership.

Norman’s nostril is rising like Pinocchio when he calls LIV “additive”. Lots of the gamers have signed contracts to play the complete schedule. I am fairly positive they did not give Mickelson $200 million to indicate up a handful of instances. So, as an “additive,” Norman should suppose these guys are going to love taking part in 30 weeks a yr.

There goes the β€œthis may give me extra time to spend with my household” excuse.

The seeds of rage…

That is the place we remind you that Norman, the general public face of LIV Golf, has had an ax towards the PGA Tour for almost 3 a long time. Even then, it is not essentially towards The Tour, per se, not to mention its newest commissioner, Tim Finchem. And, I admit, The Shark (Norman’s nickname) is justified in his long-simmering anger.

In 1994, Norman, then the primary draw on the PGA Tour, suppose Tiger Woods earlier than there was a Tiger Woods, had plans for an 8-event Tour, restricted area and massive cash. It was signed by a non-traditional supply and the commissioner was livid.

Does any of this sound acquainted to you?

Norman had a take care of FOX Sports activities, which had by no means aired golf, to pay $112 million in broadcast rights to the collection. Every occasion would carry a $3 million purse, $1 million greater than the Masters provided. Finchem was so indignant at the concept he threatened to droop any participant who agreed to play within the collection. As a result of the Tour was already a golden goose for these guys, and Norman’s gambit wasn’t grotesquely excessive, the gamers balked and the thought was useless.

Till it wasn’t.

In 1996, Finchem introduced plans for the World Golf Championships that might deliver collectively the world’s greatest gamers in 4 high-value, no-cut occasions with restricted fields. There could be solely 4 tournaments, included within the PGA Tour schedule, with three occasions in the USA and one overseas.

Norman has been on the boil ever since. And, his scheme, aided by an infinite sum of money — suppose quantities of sand within the Sahara — is the right storm to do severe injury to the PGA Tour. Make no mistake, Norman isn’t eager about being an additive. The Shark is thirsty for blood. He desires his pound of meat from the Tour and it seems Jay Monahan is the person in cost proper now.

Norman’s perception is that should you throw sufficient cash at professional golfers, they will not care the place the cash comes from, simply that the checks receives a commission. And he will probably be confirmed to be extra proper than fallacious as increasingly gamers begin defecting to the LIV collection. Proper now, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau characterize the most important hits on the Tour.

Johnson was the No. 1 participant on this planet only a yr in the past. He’s a two-time Grand Slam champion (2016 US Open, 2020 Masters) and has earned over $100 million in his profession on the PGA Tour. DeChambeau gained the 2020 US Open, is the longest driver within the sport, and has been a lightning rod for guidelines points (he as soon as tried to free fall because of hearth ants close to his golf ball) and youth disputes. with different gamers (who can overlook “Brooksie”).

Everybody else within the LIV secure, together with ringleader Phil Mickelson, is not actually a loss to the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia?/Lee Westwood? Graeme McDowell? patrick cane? None of these guys transfer the needle and all however Reed are clearly within the final 9 of their aggressive careers.

The truth is, the perfect factor about LIV is that DeChambeau and Reed will not be on the PGA Tour any time quickly. Silver linings are in every single place.

In order that’s the place we’re as we speak. There will probably be extra gamers biting the Saudi apple. Cash is simply too tempting. The cake too wealthy to withstand. And, with every defection, it turns into somewhat simpler for the following participant to say, “effectively, (fill within the clean) he did, so…”.

Publicly, LIV, by Norman, claims to be eager about rising the sport. Really, they’re fracturing it. In the long term, the PGA Tour, its gamers and, extra importantly, its sponsors will undergo. Within the meantime, LIV occasions will stay little greater than shows of success and laughter, albeit with oceans of cash to swim in after 54 holes you can solely see on-line.

Nonetheless, as a result of the cash faucet is broad open, Norman is betting that sufficient gamers will probably be drawn to the channel. And he in all probability has sufficient motive to trigger sufficient injury to the game that it helped him make lots of and lots of of thousands and thousands of {dollars}. Every thing to settle accounts.

Justified or not.

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