PGA Tour vs. LIV: what we know and what could come next


KILKENNY, Ireland – Awkward.

That will be the tone Monday morning at stately Adare Manor when the stars of the game, sanctioned or not, gather for the JP McManus Pro-Am. It’s all too easy to imagine an awkward brush when Tiger Woods, playing publicly for the first time since the Masters, passes Bryson DeChambeau, who was among the second wave of PGA Tour players to join LIV Golf last week.

Imagine at some point Rory McIlroy, the outspoken leader of the anti-LIV crowd, offering LIV convert Graeme McDowell or Ian Poulter or Lee Westwood a nervous nod and nothing more.


It’s an unsettling status quo that professional golf seems destined for as the division widens by the day (Paul Casey became the latest player to rush out for LIV on Saturday night) and the news cycle only accelerate.

Last week saw the first LIV event on American soil, seven more Tour players added to the excommunicated list, and the apparent first of what promises to be a parade of lawsuits, appeals, motions and filings. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has made it clear there is no way back for those who have been courted by the deep pockets of the Saudi-backed rival league, but the game will go on.

Here’s what we know, what we think, and what could be next:

an alliance. Last week, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour announced an enhanced alliance that will now include a direct path to the US circuit for the top 10 finishers of each season in Europe. But how far is either side willing to go?

The new deal did not come with any additional co-authored events, as the original deal will include next week’s Scottish Open and Barbasol Championships, as well as the Barracuda Championships.

The deal provides the Tour with additional ownership (now 40 per cent) of European Tour Productions and the European Tour gains a valuable marketing partner who was crucial in securing title sponsors for both the Irish Open and Scottish Open. But where the alliance goes from here remains unclear.

Asked during a players’ meeting earlier this week if the current alliance was a precursor to a full merger, European CEO Keith Pelley appeared to be intentionally vague: “Only if [a merger] does it make sense and yes [the membership] I wanted to do it,” he said.

The enhanced alliance creates a united front at a pivotal time for the sport, but it’s not perfect.

a distinction. Moments after the first tee shots were played at LIV Golf’s first event last month in London, the PGA Tour announced that its members who defied tournament rules and played on the breakaway circuit have been suspended indefinitely. It was an equally quick response last week when the circuit suspended an additional seven players who were on the field at the second LIV event.

The response from the DP World Tour, however, has been noticeably more nuanced.

Pelley, after weeks, finally ruled on how to handle its members joining LIV, it was far less definitive than the PGA Tour’s response. European players were fined (around $105,000) and banned from playing the co-sanctioned events (Scottish Open, Barbasol Championship and Barracuda Championship). According to various sources, the European tour does not have the regulatory license to suspend players indefinitely like the PGA Tour.

As much as Monahan and the Tour prefer a united front, when it comes to LIV players it’s not that easy.

a division. What had been a unique golf response among players to the LIV Golf challenge has begun to unravel.

The view of the professional ranks had clung to the notion of “independent contractor” of live and let live. But as uncomfortable economic realities set in, that tolerance was tested.

“To be honest, most of the players on this side [the DP World Tour] he will think the penalties are too light, too light,” said Padraig Harrington at the Horizon Irish Open. “The players would want more.”

Justin Thomas offered a particularly personal response to the sprawling division last week on the No Laying Up podcast.

“It hurts us,” Thomas said. “I heard someone who made a good point: They’re saying I’m sure at some point, you know, there’s going to be some kind of lawsuit and if any of those guys that went off to play the other tour are going to sue the Tour, they’re telling me. suing, they’re suing Rory, they’re suing Tiger, they’re suing every single one of us who looked us in the face, looked us in the eye and played rounds of golf, played on cup teams, shared moments, you name it, and They are suing us.”

At best, interactions between the factions will become tense. At worst, long-standing friendships will be replaced by animosity.

An answer. Considering Monahan’s hard line, it’s hard to imagine an ecosystem in which all of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf could co-exist. But if everyone involved reached a tipping point, there could be a path to detente.

According to Monahan, the Tour has not met with representatives from LIV Golf or Golf Saudi and by all accounts there is no desire to start a dialogue. Pelley, however, did not rule out the idea.

“We are not averse to working with Golf Saudi in the future,” he told his members at the players’ meeting last Tuesday. “But that would have to be within the current professional framework.”

While the PGA Tour has made this a moral line that cannot and will not be crossed, sensitivities on the European tour seem to offer more flexibility.

“Remember, everyone, depending on where you come from in the world, has a completely different idea. Your idea of ​​what is right and what is wrong is not my idea,” Harrington said. “We’re all different and it depends a lot on where you were raised and your cultures and things like that.”

Any chance of a possible compromise between established courses and LIV Golf is riddled with non-starters and deal breakers, including LIV’s Greg Norman, who has become more of a Twitter troll than a CEO. in the last weeks.

But if there is any chance of finding common ground, it is likely to be found on this side of the Atlantic.