New Questions Emerge As PGA’s Battle With LIV Tour Continues

By Ryan Bologna

The PGA vs LIV Tour battle is evolving by the second, and it doesn’t look like it will end any time soon. Some important questions relating to both leagues and the major events have been answered since the Saudi-backed league started. We now know how two of the majors will treat the situation. The LIV Tour wants to take the next step and allow its players to earn Official Golf World Ranking points and that entails a legal battle.

The Department of Justice is investigating the PGA Tour to determine whether it has engaged in anticompetitive behavior towards the LIV Tour. The investigation will focus on the warnings and suspensions that the PGA Tour has handed out, and whether that has an impact on the status of World Golf Ranging points for members of the LIV Tour. There is suspicion that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and the governing bodies of the majors are colluding to prevent LIV Tour players from earning those points. The DOJ is expected to dig deep into that.

The PGA Tour was investigated in 1994 regarding whether it broke federal laws by requiring players to get permission from the commissioner to play in outside events. The PGA tour was not penalized back then, which gives confidence that this investigation will have the same result. A PGA spokesperson said, “This was not unexpected, we went through this in 1994 and we are confident in a similar outcome.”

Players who left for the LIV Tour have been contacted for voluntary interviews, and the indication is that this will be a serious investigation by the DOJ. Is the PGA Tour right to be confident that it won’t be penalized? It will likely take years to find out.

The Open Championship became the second major to allow LIV Tour golfers who qualified for the event to participate. The U.S. Open did the same. We will have to wait for 2023 to find out whether the governing bodies for the Masters or the PGA Championship will allow LIV golfers to participate, but we know that the PGA Tour does not have enough pull to convince two of the four majors to weaken the field for their tournaments.

Many have compared this situation to the proposed European Super League, where top soccer teams attempted to create a separate league. That eventually fell apart, and that may happen long-term with the LIV Tour, but there is a stark difference between the two examples. The European Super League created so much outrage that it caused protests. Chelsea fans blocked the team bus to voice their frustration. That is not happening with the LIV Tour. There are people who still want to see someone like Dustin Johnson play. The same applies to Phil Mickelson, even though he is not at the top of his game anymore.

To drive it home even further, imagine an alternate football league that tried to poach some star players or coaches. It wouldn’t be successful, because part of the thrill of the NFL is seeing iconic stadiums and uniforms. As of now, golf fans aren’t losing out when it comes to the iconic major events, so despite the moral debate, the outrage isn’t there.

The LIV Tour is not just going to go away, and the most interesting point of conflict to watch will be the status of Golf World Ranking points. The civil war in golf is nowhere near an end.

Photo Credit: Tony Bowler

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