LIV Golf buys Phil Mickelson and other top pros


Major champion Dustin Johnson faces the media at the LIV press conference this morning.

Main champion Dustin Johnson faces the media on the LIV press convention this morning.
Picture: Getty Photographs

Nearly everybody has a price ticket. LIV Golf is attempting to determine what that price ticket appears to be like like for the largest names of their sport. Greg Norman, the CEO of the brand new government-funded Saudi tour, claimed that LIV supplied Tiger Woods a quantity within the “excessive 9 figures” to come back play for them, regardless of his varied well being points and advancing age, which Woods turned down. So what’s Tiger’s quantity? A billion? Near it?

Phil Mickelson’s was reportedly round $200 million (oh, and he’d be ticked off if Tiger obtained 4 occasions that, to make certain). 2 hundred million {dollars} to inform the world that getting even with the PGA Tour was value working with individuals who, in his own words, “killed Khashoggi,” “have a horrible document on human rights,” and “execute individuals over there for being homosexual;” after which come again out of hiding after the general public didn’t precisely heat as much as that justification, apologize, say he was in remedy, and reaffirm that he’d be enjoying with the LIV tour.

Dustin Johnson’s quantity was round $125 million, reports say, and Kevin Na’s was most likely a bit decrease, as he doesn’t have the identical title recognition or main wins as Johnson, however one can assume it’s someplace within the 7-digit vary. The 2 golfers additionally introduced at this time that they’re formally resigning from the PGA Tour, accompanied by Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel, relinquishing their event rights and leaping ship earlier than PGA commissioner Jay Monahan can exert any of his personal punishments or sanctions upon them.

Taylor Gooch obtained paid no matter quantity prompted him to inform the press that he didn’t assume that LIV Golf was a sportswashing effort, and to observe that up with, “Additionally … I’m a golfer. I’m not that good. I attempt to hit a golf ball right into a small gap. Golf is difficult sufficient.”

Gooch’s quote was only one odd second from a press convention at this time that was full of unsettling experiences. An AP reporter was escorted out after attempting to ask a query, per ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenberg; Graeme McDowell responded to a Day by day Mail reporter’s query about how gamers reconciled Saudi Arabia’s human rights document with their determination to affix the league by saying the difficulty was “polarizing” and “the Khashoggi scenario…was reprehensible;” and final however actually not least, former White Home press secretary Ari Fleischer emceed the occasion, whose price ticket was apparently excessive sufficient to publicly disavow his personal former feedback on the Saudi authorities’s efforts to maintain Mohammed bin Salman in energy.

So what does this imply for the PGA?

All of the discuss rising the sport and shotgun begins are about as convincing as Mickelson’s bullshit apology, however the issue is, none of this actually issues for the PGA. They’re nonetheless shedding the warfare. As a result of at this level, all they’ve left going for them is that they’re not funded by blood cash. All the factor is about optics for them, as a result of in sports activities, there are actually solely two issues to think about — optics and cash. They usually don’t have the cash. And the issue with the optics is that the PGA powers that be had been probably not all that likable to start with.

The Saudis, alternatively, have as a lot cash as they need. Their participation funds make the PGA’s Participant Influence Program seem like lunch cash. Dustin Johnson (who has made greater than $74 million {dollars} in PGA profession earnings) actually exaggerated when he stated, “I don’t wish to play golf the remainder of my life, which I felt like I used to be most likely going to need to do,” however the four-month schedule of LIV accompanied by the insane quantities of money being thrown round need to look interesting to loads of golfers, particularly those that have been on the Tour for years or a long time and should probably not count on to win one other main once more.

Johnson’s resignation purchased the PGA extra time to determine how they wish to take care of future LIV defectors, which might be a very good factor for them, however it’s additionally a little bit of a slap within the face to the PGA’s popularity. They’re now within the uncomfortable place of not having the final word energy over their athletes. Johnson and his fellow ship-jumpers aren’t ready with bated breath on what punishment or sanction Monahan will determine handy down — no, they obtained forward of it, which, sadly for the PGA, makes them look kind of powerless and undesirable. They’re not the end-all-be-all within the sport if athletes are willingly signing away their rights to play with the Tour.

The place does the PGA go from right here?

Sadly for the infamously cussed Monahan, this most likely implies that the PGA goes to need to evolve and certain loosen up a bit on that computerized LIV ban that they threatened, in addition to search for methods to get their golfers higher monetary alternatives or extra world attain for sponsorships. They’re standing on a shaky ethical floor already, and regardless of absolutely the sizzling mess that the LIV press convention at this time was, shaking their heads in disappointment isn’t precisely going to cease golfers from taking tens or a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of {dollars} to play elsewhere.

You may’t relaxation on the, “properly, we do it as a result of that’s the way it’s all the time been” excuse when it’s not like that. The extra golfers who be a part of LIV, the extra normalized it turns into, and that cycle will simply proceed till the PGA folds or turns into a kind of amateurized or lower-level model of LIV. Even the no-namers will select LIV if there’s higher cash there, particularly in the event that they’re not barred from enjoying the majors.

So what does the PGA have going for it? Much more tournaments through the season, for starters, and, maybe extra importantly, stability. With no LIV broadcast companions but introduced and no idea of how in style their occasions will find yourself being, the PGA affords a very good, strong schedule and, a minimum of for now, a low-risk future within the sport. A great deal of the massive names have stood by the PGA regardless of profitable affords, and whereas I do know this all appeared a bit doomsday, it’s not over for them but. They’ve time they usually have a strong basis that they’ll construct on.

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