Cutting to the Chase with the Pro Golf Circus
Let’s cut to the chase with this pro golf circus.
It’s take the money and run.
In case you haven’t followed the battle of the professional golf tours, the established PGA Tour is being challenged by one called the LIV Series.
Maybe you don’t care because if you’re a fan of the sport you only want to watch the competition and don’t want to be bothered by all the other stuff.
If that’s the way you feel it’s totally understandable.
But the fact is, it threatens to change what golf viewers have come to regard as business as usual each weekend.
You’ll only get the broad strokes here because it’s mighty complicated and I don’t want you, the reader, to lose interest.
At least not yet.
But I will offer my opinion on where this will all end up.
The LIV Tour is offering the kind of money that blows the PGA schedule out of the water.
In their first event this past weekend in London, the winner,
Charl Schwartzel collected $4 million.
This is not a misprint.
The poor fellow who finished 48th and last, Andy Ogletree, picked up a check of $120 thousand.
You get the idea.
That’s not all, there are huge fees for merely competing.
I’m talking about millions.
So, to no one’s surprise there have been many touring pros, whose names you are familiar with, who have made the jump.
Names like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, and Bryson DeChambeau, who along with Patrick Reed will make their LIV debut in a few week in Portland.
Phil putting in London
The one aspect of these and many of the others that standout is that they are primarily on the downside of their careers, or have not been successful recently.
If you watch every week you realize how difficult it is to win, or even contend for a tournament championship each week.
And if you play golf, no one has to tell you how brutally tough it is to play well consistently.
So, who wouldn’t want to cash in big time just to play, and to not necessarily have to play well?
I’ll tell you who.
The majority of the touring pros who, by the way, are not in financial straits, to say the least, and regard the PGA Tour as the backbone of the sport of golf with its benefits, sponsorships and the platform to move on to further opportunities after their career comes to an end. Maybe they’ll be more on the move.
Tiger Woods, who would make a difference if he moved, even with his game faltering as of late, talked of the sport’s legacy in rejecting an incredible offer in the “high nine digits”.
So, where is all this money coming from?
The LIV Golf Series is being funded by Saudi Arabia.
The face of NIV
It is no secret that the horrible record regarding human rights that is a way of life in that country is known by the rest of the world.
In being questioned about these moral issues, the players who have jumped, either had no answer as to why they would be connected to such a nation with those practices, or narrowed their decision to what made sense for them strictly in regard to golf.
What’s has been talked about more, are the suspensions by the PGA Tour of the 17 members who have jumped ship. Nine have already resigned their membership, including Johnson.
Can their ouster stick? Or is that question heading for the courts?
Fortunately, the golfers who played in London will be able to compete in the U.S. Open, getting underway this week at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
Up in the air, are the other major championships including the Masters which is by invitation only.
I would think the Open Championship, known as the British Open will be unaffected by this mess.
I watched some of the initial NIV competition from London, streaming on YouTube. They don’t have a network deal as of yet, and I wonder if any American network will jump in.
What I saw was golf as we’ve seen it, played in the routine fashion we’ve known.
There is a team format the new league will present, but to me, the only team golf that’s meaningful is the Ryder Cup.
(Perhaps the President Cup and Solheim Cup would follow).
With all of the players assured of a big pay day, the action lacked tension and drama.
Of course, this was only the beginning, and Greg Norman, the face of the venture, promised more.
I actually was more drawn to Sunday’s Canadian Open, won by Rory McIlroy over Tony Finau and Justin Thomas.
McIlroy surpassed Norman with his 21st tournament victory and subtlety let everyone know after the win.
Rory wins in Canada
There are some predictions that the pro golf tour may never be the same with this challenge.
Golf is about tradition and history.
If there are players unhappy and looking for huge sums, let them go to where they will be happy.
There will never be a shortage of golfers out to win a tournament.
The final round will always come down to the back nine.
The drama will unfold as always.
If a lesser known player has a chance to win, the viewers will be watching to see if he can grab the biggest prize of his life.
It’ll be all about who survives and how they do it.
Those not in the fight will be out of sight, out of mind.
Just as always.
Nothing will really change.