The PGA Tour discovers...capitalism!
Acting like the crown prince of the PGA Tour safely ensconced in his Jacksonville glass-and-steel castle protected by a moat and tax-exempt status, Commissioner Jay Monahan initially tried the "off with their heads" approach when major winners Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell and a dozen pros from around the world declared they would join Greg Norman's LIV Golf Tour.
Monahan announced suspensions on June 9, 2022:
[P]articipation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV Golf events is in violation of our tournament regulations. The same fate holds true for any other players who participate in future Saudi Golf League events in violation of our regulations.
Yawn. The first LIV event went off as scheduled on June 11 at London's Centurion Club. The sizable crowd witnessed a unique competition format consisting of individual and team play over three days. The winner was 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who earned a whopping $4.75 million. Schwartzel and his fellow South Africans Hennie du Plessis, Branden Grace and team captain Louis Oosthuizen also won the team competition, splitting $3 million.
Organizers ran the awards ceremony as an Olympic-style event complete with a three-tiered podium and cups that Norman handed out to Schwartzel, Du Plessis and Grace who finished second and third. A good time was had by all, including the families of the players. Hotel accommodations were first class. Chauffeured limos took care of transportation. I watched on YouTube. There were no commercial interruptions, no ads by Nick Faldo doing his Al Bundy shoe salesman impersonation. Commentary was refreshingly brief and to the point, unlike what Faldo and his cohorts provide on CBS.
Monahan did his best to pour cold water on the London extravaganza. Asked about an open letter sent to LIV players by a coalition of families and survivors of 9/11, in which the new tour was labeled a "sports washing" campaign by the Saudi government, Monahan played the guilt card (the race card was unavailable):
I would ask any player that has left or any player that would ever consider leaving, "Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?"
Last I heard, the PGA Tour has not cancelled events in China, where a deadly virus was cooked and then released wreaking havoc worldwide. China's appalling human rights record seems not to have impressed Monahan, either. As Orwell might have put it, all moral equivalences are equivalent but some equivalences are less equivalent than others.
No doubt reacting to LIV defections by major winners Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, and more recently Pat Perez and Mexico's Abraham Ancer, the PGA Tour announced it would, well, steal a page from the LIV playbook: "If you can't beat them, join them," or something like that. Here is how Golf Digest's Dan Rapaport described the announcement:
Starting next year, the PGA Tour schedule will include eight limited-field no-cut events, with purses of $20 million or more each, for the top 50 finishers in the prior season's FedEx Cup standings. Some of those events will be in the heart of the season, while others will be in the fall. Those outside the top 50 will compete in an alternate series of tournaments, where they will fight to keep their cards and earn better status for the following season. This change in structure would happen in conjunction with the tour returning to a season based on the calendar year, something Golf Digest has reported was being considered. The tour switched from a calendar-based schedule to a wraparound campaign in 2013-14.
Yawn. I doubt this move will slow down defections and not just because the PGA is in no position to compete with the financial resources of Saudi Arabia. By the time the Tour's version of LIV gets going, the real thing will have completed a full season of competition and become a permanent fixture in the golf world, having brought about a paradigm shift in how the game is played and broadcast and how participants are rewarded.
Next week's LIV contest will be at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon. Tournaments in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois will follow, then it's off to Thailand and Saudi Arabia, culminating in the Tour Championship at the end of October at Trump National Doral in Miami. Next year's season promises to be longer and even more profitable. Norman will likely have so many players knocking on his door that he may have to start thinking about Tour cards soon! World golf ranking points based on LIV performance are under discussion.
Four days after J6, the PGA of America abruptly (knee-jerk?) backed out of the agreement to hold the PGA Tournament at Trump National in Bedminster this year. Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America, told the Associated Press:
We're fiduciaries for our members, for the game, for our mission and for our brand. And how do we best protect that? Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster. The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave. We had to make a business decision.
Yawn. "Tragic events?" "Irreparable damage?" "Business decision?" Norman can make sure President Trump gets the last laugh by inviting him to attend the LIV tournament at his Bedminster club in July or the LIV final in Miami, or both. Make it happen, Greg!
Arnold Cusmariu is a regular contributor to American Thinker. His book Logic for Kids is due out later this year from Jenny Stanford Publishing.
Image: Logo via Wikimedia Commons, fair use.