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GOLF

PGA Tour informs LIV Golf players they are not eligible to renew their Tour membership for next season

Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, the ongoing spat between the PGA and LIV Golf threatens to tear both organizations apart

Update:
BOLTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 02: Team Captain Cameron Smith of Punch GC is seen on the practice range during Day One of the LIV Golf Invitational - Boston at The Oaks Golf Course at The International on September 02, 2022 in Bolton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Charles Laberge/LIV Golf/via Getty Images )
Charles Laberge/LIV GolfGetty

The PGA is finished. It may not look that way, but there is a ticking clock on the venerable institution. With the positions so intransigent, and the money and pending lawsuits invested, the PGA will give all to destroy LIV Golf, and it is quite possible that they will ultimately do that. But it will be a pyrrhic victory, and they will be undone.

The golfing press has gone to great lengths to set this battle up as a good-vs-evil tale, a morality play, referring to the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and calling LIV’s guaranteed payouts “blood money.” That is pretty rich, to put it mildly, coming from the US, with extra-judicial detentions, assassinations, and regime-change being their international modus operandi ever since they inherited the world-domination mantle from the British Empire.

In pure golfing terms, there is no reason to suppose that day-long tee times are better or worse than a shotgun start system, and guaranteed payouts are superior in every way for a professional golfer over the win-to-earn philosophy espoused by the PGA. In short, there is no reason, apart from preserving their monopoly, for the PGA to take such a hard-line stance toward LIV Golf.

When the current British Open champion jumps ship only a month after winning in St Andrews, there is something wrong with your position. Cameron Smith is not the only one, with Harold Varner III and Dustin Johnson also making the move to LIV.

The PGA has now hardened its stance, announcing that any LIV player is no longer eligible to renew their PGA Tour membership for next season. Make no mistake, there is no going back from where we are now. The PGA has nailed its colors to the mast of an unthinkable idea: forcing professional golfers to play for free.

While Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have been most vocal about their disdain for LIV, not only the organization but their colleagues who have chosen to go and play there, the fact of the matter is that if a professional is expected to perform, it is only right that they are compensated. Nobody, in any field, would do the job that they are doing without some form of guarantee that there would be money at the end. Not hypothetical money, not “a chance to make money”, but actual cash.

Lee Westwood, another PGA great who has made the leap to LIV says, “I laugh at what the PGA Tour players have come up with. It’s just a copy of what LIV is doing. There are a lot of hypocrites out there. They all say LIV is ‘not competitive.’ They all point at the no-cut aspect of LIV and the ‘short fields.’ Now, funnily enough, they are proposing 20 events that look a lot like LIV.”

The PGA has long had a terrible reputation for keeping the money in their own pockets rather than spreading it around, and now they are being called out on it. The fact that so many great players are going to where they will be paid simply emphasizes the point that LIV has been making.

When the antitrust lawsuit filed by LIV goes before a judge next year, there is a possibility that the PGA will succeed in getting it thrown out. And even if it goes to court, there is no guarantee that LIV will win the case, which would likely force them to fold. In that sense, the PGA may win this battle. But no matter what happens in the short term, the PGA can never go back to the way it was, and that, in the end, will be a win for golf.

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