The ongoing catfight between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf has reached the point where both sides better call a truce. Just stop throwing grenades in each other’s direction, which only makes them look like college kids in a cafeteria food fight.
Obvious narratives – players like Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson Dechambeau and Patrick Reed leaving for LIV Golf International for more money and a less busy schedule, or the Tour avoiding its own members for daring to accept l guaranteed lucrative money from a Saudi wealth fund – become tiresome and do nothing to advance the game.
Golfers are essentially independent contractors in some cases, as the Tour has selectively given them permission to play certain events, such as next week’s Scottish Open on the DP World Tour, with which the Tour has just formed a more strong.
But when the players joined LIV, a controversial league funded by a country struggling with multiple human rights issues, the fangs went out.
The players who defected were treated as pariahs by commissioner Jay Monahan and Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, who foolishly called for the removal of LIV frontman Greg Norman and Mickelson from the World Golf Hall of Fame.
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As disappointing as it was that the LIV defectors made their decision, which came with the predictable cold shoulder treatment, it still doesn’t do the Tour any good to keep them suspended for an indefinite period, possibly years. .
Seriously, how does it do to grow the game to not have a dozen top-50 players in Tour events?
Doesn’t it penalize fans when a deserving LIV golfer can’t earn points for their World Golf Ranking and can possibly be kicked out of major tournaments?
How about a high performing LIV competitor who deserves a captain’s pick and does not enter the Ryder Cup?
Monahan said publicly last week that the Tour could not win an “arms race” with LIV, which he sees as an “irrational threat”, but he had no problem countering it by upping the ante. He announced that purses for eight Tour events would increase by $53.8 million, including the Players Championship going from $20 million to $25 million.
The train was heading in that direction anyway, but Monahan sped the process up in order to protect his turf, making sure no other high-profile players were tempted to leave.
It’s no coincidence that when Monahan fired his LIV salvos at the Traveler’s Championship, the rival league announced Koepka – who had previously denounced the players as “sold out” for leaving the Tour. before changing his mind and joining LIV.
So it comes and goes, seemingly endless acrimony.
Honestly, just as the Tour can thwart LIV in any way it chooses, Tour golfers are free to make choices for themselves and their families. Playing on a circuit that offers more money and less time away from home is understandably appealing, even if it means accepting the criticism that comes with that decision.
The question is what happens in the future. If LIV only survives a few years, will the Tour welcome suspended players back? Does anyone think golf is better for fans with the Tour and LIV engaged in a perpetual cold war?
Sooner or later, the Tower and LIV better lay down their swords than act like bullies. That is, if they really care about growing the game and not just their bank accounts.
Gene Frenette is a sports columnist at the Florida Times-Union, follow him on Twitter @genefrenette. You can reach him at: [email protected]; (904) 359-4540.