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LIV players respond to increased PGA Tour prize money

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NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — Last week, the PGA Tour announced salary increases and new events, among other measures to combat the Saudi-funded LIV Tour.

How does that affect LIV golfers?

“I think it’s great for the guys that LIV has maybe done other tours to up their game,” Martin Kaymer said Wednesday. “I think it’s good for all the players. I think the bottom line is that it’s great for the tour members, but somehow it feels like everyone’s fighting each other. That’s not the case, or that shouldn’t be the case.” . case.”

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Kaymer and his LIV colleagues may not be interested in trading barbs, but they still get them. As LIV hosts its first tournament in the United States and second overall this week at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, it does so amid more criticism from Rory McIroy, who said players who left the PGA Tour to join LIV they did so in a “deceptive” manner, with several Oregon officials, including Senator Ron Wyden, pointing to Saudi Arabia’s ugly human rights record.

With more big names signing with LIV in recent days, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan revealed changes for the 2023 season designed to retain talent. That includes a multi-million dollar prize money increase at eight of the PGA Tour’s top tournaments, as well as a calendar year schedule to relax demand from its golfers, which is one of LIV’s draws in addition to the incalculable amounts of money thrown by players. road.

However, there doesn’t seem to be much regret on LIV’s part.

“For me personally, I’m happy for the guys on the PGA Tour,” Sergio Garcia said. “I’m happy that they can enjoy that. I’ll just put it that way.”

Was there anything the Tour could have done to prevent more players from leaving? Garcia, Kaymer, and Lee Westwood mentioned transparency and communication as pitfalls, without going into detail.

(L to R) LIV golfers Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia responded Wednesday to the PGA Tour's prize money increase and other changes.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf/via Getty Images)

(L to R) LIV golfers Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia responded Wednesday to the PGA Tour’s prize money increase and other changes. (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf/via Getty Images)

They also expressed disappointment with the European Tour, which just announced a 13-year partnership extension with the PGA Tour and recently fined LIV players $120,000 each and banned them from three of its next four events. The exception is The Open Championship, which has already announced that LIV players can compete next month in St. Andrews, Scotland.

“I’ve been a member of the European Tour for 29 years,” said Westwood, who like Kaymer and Garcia is a native of Europe, “and many of those years I’ve also been a member of the PGA Tour, and the European Tour, while I’ve played my four (events to keep membership), never had a problem getting him to play elsewhere, and now it seems to be a problem.

“Yes, communication, and as far as fines and penalties and things like that, I’m disappointed.”

Monahan has been outspoken against Saudi Arabia and its seemingly bottomless sovereign wealth fund, which funds LIV Golf.

In less than two events, LIV players are already seasoned veterans at dancing around those questions. But they also stress that their good compensation is a net asset among golfers.

“I think when we look back 12 months from now, yes, there were some problems. There were some difficulties. But I’m a strong believer in all touring,” Kaymer said. “…If LIV Golf helps the PGA Tour and the European Tour provide even better playing opportunities and financially support players even more, I think everyone wins.”

“Competition is good,” Westwood added. “Keep it simple.”

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