Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
LIV will die because it's not real golf
Oklahoma collegiate stars Ancer, Wolff, Gooch among those who've departed the PGA Tour for an eight-tournament series comprised of 54-hole no cut events
It’s a global story, but not without Oklahoma angles.
• Abraham Ancer, OU
• Matthew Wolff, OSU
• Talor Gooch, OSU
Gooch even went to high school at Carl Albert. Among his amateur victories is the Oklahoma Golf Association’s State Stroke Play 10 years ago at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, since which he’s ascended to No. 39 in the World Golf Rankings.
Each is scheduled to tee off at The Open Championship on Thursday, the world’s most important tournament, at St. Andrews, birthplace of the game.
But that’s not the story.
The story is the spring and summer of golf’s discontent, fueled by the LIV Golf Tour, which, even under threat of indefinite suspension by the PGA Tour and PGA European Tour — corporately known as the DP World Tour — has nonetheless succeeded at poaching some of the game’s biggest names.
Like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia. More recently Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed. Also Ancer, Wolff and Gooch.
Why so harsh?
The LIV tour is funded by the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Saudi Arabia, looked after by the Saudi royal family, nominally led by King Salman, but in practice by Mohammed bin Salman, who is commonly understood to be responsible for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and who knows what other skulduggery that doesn’t make headlines here.
“Scary motherfuckers,” Mickelson told golf writer Alan Shipnuck.
“We know they killed Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights,” he said. “They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”
So he bolted.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monohan has called the LIV tour an “irrational threat” because what else is there to call an enterprise willing to lose billions in the name of polishing a murderous regime’s image?
To date, those suspended have not been barred from the majors because, despite selling their soul for exorbitant appearance fees, unthinkable prize money and 54-hole no-cut tourneys in which last place still nets $120,000, neither of the game’s two biggest tours runs the majors.
Augusta National runs the Masters.
The PGA of America runs the PGA.
The USGA runs the U.S. Open.
The R&A runs The Open Championship.
But even if happy to risk being denied those stages in the future, what the confederate players may not understand is their new tour has no long-term viability, because it has no future in the public consciousness.
Perhaps that realization will come in the wake of what happened Monday, when the Wall Street Journal reported the Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the PGA Tour for potential “anti competitive behavior” for the hard line it’s taken.
“We went through this in 1994, and we are confident in a similar outcome,” the PGA Tour said in response.
Greg Norman, the Great White Shark, was trying to put together the World Golf Tour that year, when the Federal Trade Commission looked into the PGA Tour’s requiring member players obtain releases to play outside events. The FTC dropped the probe without taking any action.
Perhaps the non-sustainability of the Saudi backed tour will become more clear as the DOJ probe elevates the conflict.
Norman, now the LIV tour’s CEO — how about that? — recently called the PGA Tour an “illegal monopoly” and “anti-golfer, anti-fan and anti-competitive.”
The PGA Tour is anti-competitive?
How would he know because what’s less competitive than 54 holes to determine who gets a $4,000,000 winner’s check in a tournament nobody’s heard of, on a tour with no history, with all the seriousness of beer league softball, playing just three-fourths of what’s been long understood to be a serious test of golf?
The PGA Tour is anti-fan?
How would he know because what’s more anti-fan than shotgunning your tourney field each day of each hole, only putting golfers on the course for about four hours, making it impossible to follow more than one group, one early and one late? Or hang out at No. 18 and watch everybody finish because how can you do that when only one group finishes at the 18th and every other group finishes elsewhere.
Even as a viewer, it’s no good.
Down the stretch, replays may give you every shot, but not live, because they’re all happening at the same time, on three, four or five (or more) different holes.
That’s if you can find the broadcast, because the only way to watch the LIV tour on these shores is via YouTube, Facebook, the LIV website or DAZN, a streaming service of which nobody’s heard.
The PGA Tour is anti-golfer?
Why, because it demands players start on No. 1 and finish on No. 18? Because it demands players earn their dough as a measure of their success, rather than throwing out guaranteed money in excess of the purse?
It might have been interesting if the LIV tour incorporated no team aspect to its operation, but like NASCAR’s Cup Series it does, thereby demanding players commit to each of its events, a series of eight tourneys from June to October.
But it went with the team component, because how else to polish a murderous regime’s image when your biggest names only show up sometimes.
In the end, this:
Even if you pluck the Nos. 18, 20, 21, 24, 31, 33, 40 and 41 golfers in the world rankings, which the LIV tour has done, who cares what those players do in a bunch of 54-hole, no-cut money grabs that tell you nothing about their standing as serious golfers.
Because it’s not really golf.
Most of us would prefer to watch some golf.
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