By Rhonda Bird
In the infant stages of its existence, the LIV Tour used its financial might to get to the forefront of the golf scene. From bringing in Greg Norman to be the commissioner and giving Phil Mickelson $200 million to join the tour, the Saudi-backed league has created waves. With the governing bodies for the U.S. Open and The Open Championship allowing LIV Tour players to participate in 2022, players and supporters of the new league were peacocking a bit. However, recent developments present the biggest hurdles the LIV Tour has faced yet. It is expected that the four majors will ban LIV players in 2023, and 11 players have filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour in hopes of having their suspensions lifted. For the PGA Tour, it is still a mess, but the LIV Tour is finding out that it can’t just buy its way out of any problem it faces.
If anyone involved with the LIV Tour didn’t know this before, they should have as a result of the negotiations with Tiger Woods. Norman recently confirmed the rumors that Woods was offered around $700-$800 million to join the tour and turned it down. First of all, just think about being in a position where you are able to turn down that type of money. When you remember that he just recently became the third athlete to join the billionaire club, it makes sense that he can stick to his morals and turn down that money. However, the LIV Tour now has bigger fish to fry.
.@LIVGolfInv Commissioner Greg Norman confirms the tour offered @TigerWoods $700-800 million to join 😳 🤯 pic.twitter.com/S3CEoQvzFP
— Jon Root (@JonnyRoot_) August 2, 2022
As mentioned before, the Saudi-backed league can not just spend to eliminate its problems. As shown by Woods and other top professionals like Rory McIlroy and John Rahm, the prestige and tradition of the majors and PGA Tour events will keep many of the top golfers. People don’t grow up dreaming of winning a shotgun start tournament with a team component. They dream of sinking a put to win the Masters at Augusta. For much of the summer, it seemed as if the PGA would have to deal with LIV Tour players participating at major tournaments for the foreseeable future. Whether some strings were pulled or not, the PGA has to be breathing a sigh of relief that the majors will be part of the equation when players are making their decisions. However, that doesn’t mean this is over.
As mentioned before, 11 LIV Tour players have filed a lawsuit against the PGA. The department of justice is also investigating the PGA for anti-competitive behavior. Representatives have indicated that they do not fear punishment as a result of that, but it is just another wrinkle in a fight that isn’t likely to end soon.
Some of the details that emerged from the player lawsuit are particularly interesting. It was revealed that Mickelson was initially suspended for two months back in March by the PGA Tour, yet that was never publicly announced. How can that be? You would think that any league that suspends a big name would announce that news as soon as possible. That suspension escalated to one year, then two based on Mickelson taking part in LIV Tour events. But why were fans not made aware of the initial suspension? Despite the valid moral questions related to the LIV Tour, the emergence has illuminated flaws in the PGA Tour. Many defectors cited growing the game as a reason for joining the LIV Tour. Many are skeptical, thinking that those who left just wanted a paycheck. Regardless, flaws with the PGA Tour have been exposed, and maybe the game can improve as a result of that.
This battle isn’t ending anytime soon, and it might get even more ugly before it gets better. The PGA Tour hasn’t looked flawless at all, but the pressure has shifted to the LIV Tour with the news about major tournaments. It will have to come up with a new solution. Throwing money at it won’t solve the problem.
Photo Credit: Theflowbar