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Some of the best players on the PGA Tour have given different reasons for giving up their memberships and deciding to participate in the LIV Golf circuit.
But, for a long-time tour member, the reasoning is pretty simple.
Curtis Strange, 17-time PGA Tour winner and consecutive US Open champion (1988-89), told Fox News Digital this week that he believes the biggest motivator for players to join the rival Saudi-backed golf league is money.
“You know, there’s one reason these players are leaving, and one reason only, and that’s appearance money,” Strange said.
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“I used to go abroad two or three times a year when I was playing well, and it was about money. It was about entry fees. But at the same time, you played in tournaments that had substantial prize money. So always you try I mean, but they were real life world ranking tournaments, so it meant something: financially, in terms of rewards in terms of world ranking points and your status in the game, which is very important. is the case. .”
The PGA Tour does not allow appearance fees, while LIV golf does, similar to the DP World Tour. Players also compete for $20 million prize pools plus an additional $5 million prize pool for each tournament’s team competition.
The likes of Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson have reportedly signed deals with bonuses worth $150 million and $200 million, respectively.
Strange also said the tour’s latest move to increase bag sizes, which was accelerated by the birth of LIV Golf, brings the two circuits closer together but also makes the appearance money even more significant.
He said he can understand the financial appeal of certain players, but dismissed some of the reasons that have been publicly offered for their departures.
“I understand the players leaving. I’m doing it because it’s so big, it’s life changing,” Strange said. “Now, some people will say, ‘Well, they already make a lot of money.’ Yes. But some of these players are at the end of their careers, so they’re not going to make big money in the next few years.
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“It’s not about me not liking you. It’s not about what the tour hasn’t done. It’s not about me wanting to see my family more in a year. It’s not about having more time to myself.” These guys don’t play much anyway. It’s all about this big looking money. And that’s it. That’s the end result.”
Brooks Koepka, who joined LIV Golf ahead of its first US event in Oregon this week, told reporters during a press conference that his main reason for joining the tour was because of injury and a desire to spend more time rehabbing.
“What I’ve had to spend the last two years on my knees, the pain, the rehab, all these things, you realize, you know, I need a little more time off,” he said. “I’ll be the first to say: It hasn’t been easy the last couple of years, and I think having a little more rest, a little more time at home to make sure I’m 100% before I go play.” an event and I don’t feel like I’m obligated to play right away [is good].”
In February, Koepka said of LIV Golf: “They’ll get their guys. Someone will sell out and go.”
But, on Tuesday, he said, “opinions change,” adding that he made his decision after the US Open.
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Strange expressed his understanding, but added that he believes this will hurt both the PGA Tour and the game of golf in the long run.
“Is this bad for the tour? Yes, because it’s taken some big-name players off the tour. Is it bad for golf? Yes. Because it’s diluting the whole system. It’s a rogue system with extremely deep pockets, and they’re buying your tour.
“This is one of the biggest things that’s ever happened to our game in a negative way. So it’s not good for anybody. But will it keep happening? You know, as long as they keep throwing that kind of money around, there’s always a opportunity. Does that tour exist for more than a couple of years? That’s up to them, how much money they want to invest.”
Strange defended the PGA Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan for suspending the membership of those defectors, saying he is trying to protect the integrity of the tour for the remaining members.
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“I can’t imagine turning my back on the organization that gave you the platform to be who you are,” Strange said. “At the same time, I understand a guy who thinks he can’t play well enough anymore. But I’m having a tough time. After playing on tour for so long, turning my back on an organization and being a little bit detrimental to him. But I get it. I get it. It’s money.”
Associated Press contributed to this report.