LIV is dangerous for the sport of golf

BOLTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 04: Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, presents the trophy to Team Captain Dustin Johnson of 4 Aces GC on the podium during Day Three of the LIV Golf Invitational - Boston at The Oaks golf course at The International on September 04, 2022 in Bolton, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/LIV Golf via Getty Images)

Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, presents the trophy to Crew Captain Dustin Johnson of 4 Aces GC on the rostrum throughout Day Three of the LIV Golf Invitational. (Photograph by Joe Scarnici/LIV Golf through Getty Photos)

At occasions on Sunday, the LIV Golf Invitational Boston appeared loads like a charity scramble on the native nation membership: Guys had been enjoying in shorts, lacking solely a cigar and a chilly beer. Lee Westwood, who had an incredible last spherical to present himself an opportunity to win, dropped a lob wedge from inside 100 yards on the ultimate gap properly brief right into a greenside bunker. Dustin Johnson, who ultimately gained, pulled his method on the final 40 yards left of the inexperienced into the woods.

Matthew Wolff left a prolonged putt brief and loudly shouted “F***!” when it got here up eight ft brief. He later broke his putter in anger and was pressured to complete placing with a wedge.

At different moments, the event gave the impression to be simply what it was marketed to be — a set of among the best golfers on the planet enjoying brilliantly for an enormous $4 million first prize on the Oaks course at The Worldwide Membership in Bolton.

Johnson gained it with an eagle on the primary gap of the playoff, jamming in a 40-footer. The ball was going onerous and hit the again of the opening. It bounced within the air and dropped in, eliminating Joaquin Niemann and Anirban Lahiri.

There’s loads to love about LIV. Any tour that has gamers the caliber of Johnson, Joaquin Niemann and Cameron Smith, amongst others, is one which have to be taken severely.

The problem with it’s that it wasn’t actually wanted, and was the creation of Greg Norman, who has held an extended grudge in opposition to the PGA Tour. He campaigned for almost three many years to start out a world tour and bought it when he satisfied the Saudis to finance his concept.

The Saudis are attempting to make use of high-profile sporting occasions — golf, boxing, professional wrestling and auto racing, amongst them — to alter the notion of their nation and lots of of its human rights atrocities. It has been dubbed “sportswashing,” although it is in all probability washing nothing away.

LIV has supplied mind-boggling sums of cash to gamers to depart the PGA Tour and signal with it. Tiger Woods reportedly turned down someplace within the neighborhood of $800 million.

A lot of the LIV signees have hypocritically insisted they’ve executed it to develop the sport of golf, which is a little bit of sportswashing of their very own. Solely Harold Varner III outright admitted to his purpose for signing with LIV: the cash was too good to show down.

Varner was a middling PGA Tour participant who was one of many nicest and most accommodating golfers on the planet. He did not develop up wealthy and privileged and performed golf as a way to higher his life.

“I went to varsity and I did not even know what the US [Amateur] was,” Varner mentioned in his pre-tournament media session. “So like golf’s by no means been a manner for me to get my identify on a trophy. It was a manner for me to get out. I performed golf so I might go to varsity. I might not have been in a position to go to varsity with out enjoying golf. After which I turned professional as a result of my mind wasn’t sensible sufficient to work 9 to five and nonetheless make the identical amount of cash. … I am truly tremendous proud I decided primarily based off of what I consider in. … It was on me and that is what males do: They supply, defend and attempt to do extra, like some other job.”

It is easy to take the ethical excessive floor and say you’d flip the cash down that the LIV gamers accepted when the test’s not in entrance of you.

It is one other factor if you’re one of many best golfers on the planet and it is a very actual chance to land $75 million or $100 million for nothing greater than signing your identify to a contract to play golf for a special tour. That modifications life for one’s household for generations.

However the factor about LIV is that it wasn’t wanted. The PGA Tour was delivering a sensational product, with excellent gamers underneath 25, veterans who had been among the many best within the sport’s historical past and stakes that had been very actual.

There is no lower on LIV, the tournaments are solely 54 holes and with assured checks for even the last-place finisher there does not appear to be something for them to play for. On the PGA Tour, it may need been qualifying for The Masters, or moving into the season-ending playoffs, or holding one’s Tour card. However regardless of the state of affairs, there have been important stakes.

The gamers at LIV aren’t, as of the second, accumulating Official World Golf Rating factors and so that may imply a second will come when a lot of them will not be capable to play within the majors. That does not sit properly with Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters champion who gained 12 occasions on the PGA Tour.

“The No. 2 gamers on the planet [Smith] is right here now so if you are going to attempt to see the very best gamers on the planet, then you need to have World Rating factors [for LIV events] as a result of these are the very best gamers on the planet right here, similar to all over the place else the world over,” Watson mentioned. “ … If you are going to say you are competing in opposition to the very best, you have to have a world rating system.”

LIV’s beginning means there are two excursions with nice gamers however neither is close to what the PGA Tour has been. One of many causes the majors in addition to larger PGA Tour occasions like The Gamers, the Memorial and Bay Hill had been so large is that just about all the elite gamers joined the sphere.

The depth of each excursions is now missing.

Aces player Dustin Johnson, left, sprays sparkling wine on teammate Pat Perez as they celebrate on the stage after winning the team competition at the LIV Golf Invitational-Boston tournament, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, in Bolton, Mass.  (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

Aces participant Dustin Johnson, left, sprays glowing wine on teammate Pat Perez as they have fun on the stage after successful the staff competitors on the LIV Golf Invitational-Boston event, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, in Bolton, Mass. (AP Photograph/Mary Schwalm)

There is no turning again now that there are two main excursions competing for prime gamers and for the golf followers’ consideration. And slightly than assist develop the sport of golf, the presence of the LIV Golf Worldwide Sequence might wind up hurting it considerably.

Many people have lived by means of the NFL versus the AFL and later, the NFL versus the USFL, in addition to the NBA versus the ABA, and the NHL versus the WHA.

Every of the present leagues, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL, not solely survived, however got here out on the opposite aspect the higher for it. Guidelines had been modified in every of these sports activities to make the video games higher, extra aggressive and extra entertaining. The brand new leagues pressured growth to new cities and tv programming and manufacturing strategies had been enhanced.

It is unlikely golf goes to return out of this higher, although. The underside of the LIV fields are extremely weak, however the final place finisher Sunday nonetheless bought $120,000. That was Sihwan Kim, who opened with an 87 on Friday that together with a back-nine 50. He was 24 pictures higher on Saturday, capturing 63, however completed with a 76 on Sunday. He was 31 pictures out of the playoff and made more cash for that than most Individuals will make this yr.

That has to impression the gamers’ motivation degree, significantly when there is no lure of moving into the majors if the world golf rankings difficulty is not modified.

And if LIV indicators, oh, 10 or 15 extra gamers to make its 48-man fields deeper, that may simply take that many extra gamers who might probably win out of a PGA Tour discipline.

The sport, and its progress, can be much less due to it.

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