NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — Whether you believe the first shot was fired when Phil Mickelson said the PGA Tour uses “manipulative, coercive, heavy-handed tactics” and that his commissioner, Jay Monahan, won’t do the right thing “unless he has influence …”
Or was it when Monahan revoked gaming privileges for those who jumped on LIV Golf and called Greg Norman’s venture “an unreasonable threat” and “not concerned with return on investment or true growth of the game,” this has become turned juicy…
And not on top of some good old-fashioned pettiness.
As the inaugural LIV Golf Series event in the United States kicks off Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, Oregon, the traditional anti-feral child league continues to trade insults and announcements at strategic moments.
Monahan overshadowed the start of the first LIV event in London by announcing that those playing in the Saudi-backed series were suspended from the PGA Tour. That decision came as the entire field was playing in LIV’s shotgun starting format.
LIV responded by welcoming Brooks Koepka to their team minutes after Monahan’s press conference at the Travelers Championship a week ago to announce that the PGA Tour was raising funds at various tournaments.
On Tuesday, as LIV introduced three of its newest members, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Matthew Wolff, at Pumpkin Ridge, Monahan revealed that the PGA Tour and DP World Tour are expanding and strengthening their alliance.
This is turning into Duke vs. North Carolina. Red Sox vs Yankees. Everyone disagrees with each other.
And make no mistake, LIV Golf has certainly caught the eye of the PGA Tour.
Bryson DeChambeau on Saudi Arabia and LIV Golf: ‘People will see the good they are doing’
Plus: Controversy continues to follow LIV Golf and its players ahead of the tournament near Portland
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So what did some of those players who decided to walk away from the PGA Tour do? They started shooting back.
LIV Tour players fight back on the PGA Tour
Like Pat Perez, the unapologetic 46-year-old looking for more money while working less after 20 years and 515 starts on the PGA Tour.
Perez took a look around the course at this week’s PGA Tour event, the John Deere Classic, and was like a friend on the water.
“The Tour has tried to impose us all year and it comes with bans, suspensions and all that,” he said. “And how did that work? Look at how many guys are here. That didn’t work at all. So the top threats and all that kind of stuff, and how many major winners do you have here compared to John Deere? It’s not even close.
“The Tour wants to keep talking about the strength of the field… the strength of the field is here. So whether everyone wants to talk about it or not, that is what it is. Facts are facts.”
For this week, however, Perez is right. And he’s not around. John Deere lost its only top-50 player, No. 25 Daniel Berger, who retired Monday due to back problems that have plagued him for most of this year. The event has just six of the top 100, led by No. 58 Webb Simpson.
But, Pérez needs to hit the brakes. The LIV event features eight players in the top 50, including No. 17 Dustin Johnson and No. 19 Koepka. Certainly not stellar up to this point. But, to the point of Perez, it embarrasses the John Deere field.
Some players are no longer hiding their distaste for the PGA Tour and how it has handled the LIV threat. Some have reacted by giving up the tour; Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel among them.
Several were asked what, if anything, the Tour could have done to prevent players from defecting.
“Listen to the players for once,” Reed said.
“At least he could have taken the call from Grupo LIV,” Perez said. “At least have a meeting, see what it’s all about. Monahan just shut it down from the beginning. She didn’t want to have a meeting, she didn’t want to listen to anyone. Maybe (that) would have been a little different… She doesn’t listen to anyone.” players”.
Wednesday’s word of the day for Garcia, Westwood and Martin Kaymer: Communication.
“Transparency is an important thing,” Kaymer said. “It would have been great to evaluate all the options that all the tours have and that we can all decide together, that we can sit at the table as adults, find a solution that is not only good for the individuals, for the whole tour, for all the members”.
Still, no one knows what the LIV Golf will look like in three years. Is this the AFL, which forced a merger with the NFL? Or is this the original USFL, which died after three seasons? (In a related article, the next US stop for LIV Golf is Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.)
Some of those who are taking shots on the PGA Tour now have not closed the door on returning to the tour if they are allowed.
“I want to play the PGA Tour,” DeChambeau said. “It’s not my decision whether or not I can play, but I would love to continue playing. We’ll see how it develops.”
Tom D’Angelo is a reporter for the Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on the Palm Beach Post: LIV Golf players share some of the problems they have with the PGA Tour