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LIV Golf knows how to claim a win, but the PGA Tour is fighting back

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At almost every other point in American sports history, LIV Golf would have almost no chance of survival, doomed to suffer the same fate as every spring football league or other rogue professional sports venture. Spend cash, fight to gain ground, plunge into chaos, and finally hope for a meltdown so at least some survive. That is all. This is the plan.

But Saudi-funded LIV Golf is different for one reason: it knows it has come to fruition in 2022, in the midst of an era in our lives where facts have become optional. Like the former president whose golf courses he will visit later this summer (and whose son-in-law is also funding), he thrives in that environment, constantly moving the goalposts to create the illusion of success. Even if your own website continues to perform so poorly I was confused about the exact dates for this week’s event in Portland.

Matthew Wolff is one of the latest names to leave the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf, hailed as a “rising star” in the press release announcing the move. As of October 11, 2020, Wolff was the 12th ranked player in the world, according to the Official World Golf Ranking. On Sunday, the day before his move to LIV was made official, Wolff was the 77th-ranked player in the world. There’s a trend there, but it’s not increasing and unlikely to change now that Wolff is playing in low-stakes events that don’t award OWGR points, by the way. But yes, total victory for LIV.

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One of the original wins was claiming the last three US Amateur champions for the kick-off event in London earlier this month. Of course, one of them, Andy Ogletree, missed the cut for the 48-team field in Portland. Still, it was a win at the time.

Greg Norman and his minions have gone to great lengths to boast of their innovation in the world of professional golf, creating something “new” is inherent in every new league. Among them for LIV is having four-man teams, led by captains who will draft before each event to fill out their rosters. While it’s all pretty silly and unnecessary, it would at least create buzz in the run up to the 54 hole tournament. So naturally, as one of those captains, Sergio Garcia, revealed on Instagram, LIV A) ditched the silliest name, “Balls of Fire” and B) their team is already picked for the week, suggesting a ditching of the concept. But yes, total victory for a week and a half.

The only real wins right now for LIV Golf are the big, recognizable names it has taken from the PGA Tour (Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka) and the talented fans who have joined them. That has gone well. It really has LIV capitalized on a market inefficiency – the PGA Tour path for most amateur players is long, complicated and the opposite of lucrative – and used its limitless resources to attract a group that is largely apathetic about the weekly grind of PGA Tour life. .

And it sets the stage for the only win that really matters, because make no mistake about it: LIV Golf’s best chance for survival remains cooperation with the PGA Tour, something it has coveted and the Tour has so far expressed zero interest in. even consider.

Because while Koepka or DeChambeau may be happy right now, playing less golf overall but still playing in major championships, at some point they will change their minds. They’ll want something else, something more, like the opportunity to be adequately prepared for a specialty and a better chance to do well in one. Results for LIV Golf’s US Open entrants were meager: only two of the 12 London golfers made the cut, with Dustin Johnson’s tie for 24th being the best result. Next month’s Open Championship could be more of the same: they will have had two full weeks off, while many of their competitors play the Scottish Open on the DP World Tour or the Barbasol Championship on the PGA Tour.

At some point someone will want to pursue a hybrid model, looking to enter a PGA Tour event. And then it comes down to PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan’s ruling and whether the current suspensions would be lifted as punishment for having been served. Because if so, the Tour’s short-term victory of being right would soon be overwhelmed by the long-term impact of the intermittent disappearances of everyone from its core members to the true stars of the game. It would start LIV on its path to true legitimacy, making it part of the professional golf ecosystem and allowing it to thrive. Not having to do a huge discount on admission to the grounds and a TV deal included.

Monahan surely knows that, like him, money won’t win this war. That’s why he’s been pushing as hard as he has, taking a hard line against LIV and doing everything he can to make PGA Tour membership more worthwhile. Tuesday’s announcement of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Korn Ferry Tour was the latest. The DP World Tour is not interested in being the secondary team for the guys at LIV Golf, and both it and Korn Ferry will have greater access to the PGA Tour for their members. This is all overdue, but it fixes some of the issues that made world number 2 aficionado Eugenio Chacarra and other young golfers look at LIV in the first place.

None of this will make LIV go away – its infinite resources protect against that. But it makes wins harder to find.

(Top photo by Bryson DeChambeau: Aaron Doster/USA Today)

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