LIV Golf held its second event over the weekend, this one in Portland, Oregon, and the backlash surrounding the Saudi-backed golf league continues.
In a conversation with Yahoo Finance, golf legend Fred Couples criticized the startup league that is recruiting players from the PGA Tour.
“I don’t like it at all, to be honest,” Couples told Yahoo Finance last week at the Icon Series event at Liberty National Golf Course. “I’ve heard some people say, ‘Well, you know golf is an open sport and if they can get more…’ Well, this is different. They are hitting the Tour to give the best to Saudi Arabia. We don’t know how long this tour will last. My easy answer is that as a professional golfer who has played on tour for 42 years, I feel a little embarrassed.”
LIV Golf began play June 9 and has flaunted hundreds of millions of dollars on some of the biggest names in golf to defect from the PGA Tour. The golf series is funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, posing a dilemma for participating golfers given the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by agents led by the Saudi government in 2018 and other allegations of rights. humans.
The Saudis have invested at least $500 million to launch the new golf league, including a $255 million purse over eight tournaments and player salaries. But LIV Golf doesn’t have a broadcast partner yet, and matches are streamed on LIV Golf’s YouTube. In general, there is no clear understanding of how the tournament makes money and plans to be profitable in the long run.
However, some players have followed the money. Phil Mickelson reportedly left the PGA Tour for $200 million. Dustin Johnson walked for a $125 million contract, according to reports. He was soon followed by two of the sport’s rising stars, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka.
The couples took issue with how LIV players addressed the media during the start of the new league. Many players, including Mickelson Koepka and Johnson, have held off commenting on the controversial nature of their new employer.
“Where I’m really embarrassed is when they go to do interviews,” Couples said. “They can’t even talk. They don’t know what to say. They don’t answer. For me, when I go to a PGA Tour event and I’m there, they ask me crazy questions. I’m not facing anyone. I don’t tell anyone ‘oh, that was years ago.’
Couples, who has been on the PGA Tour for 40 years, believes LIV’s opportunity in professional golf is fleeting, saying the tour did a “great job” fighting LIV. And in the end, since LIV doesn’t have much of a revenue stream beyond oil money, the battle between tours will depend on how long the Saudis fund the project.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to last,” Couples said. “Right now, the LIV Tour is a great thing if you’re a golfer and they pay you $100 million. And you’re a golfer and you get overpaid. But we are not the NFL. I can’t sign a five-year basketball contract for 200 million. In golf we play and play and win what we have. And until two months ago, everyone thought it was the best game in the world on the PGA Tour. Now some people are being paid handsomely and are criticizing the tour, which is ridiculous.”
Josh is a producer for Yahoo Finance Live.
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