NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — For Greg Norman, the Saudi government and LIV Golf, Tuesday’s press conferences are something of a victory lap; an opportunity to showcase six legitimately big-name golfers who have successfully attracted off the PGA Tour. With this being the first time the latest defectors (Bryson DeChambeau, Matthew Wolff, Abraham Ancer, Brooks Koepka, Pat Perez, and Patrick Reed) have addressed the media regarding their decision, nearly every question has been some version of it. core dilemma: Because you did?
We’re going to do our best to filter out PR jargon and media training – growing the game and respecting everyone’s opinion seem to be two phrases of particular emphasis – and seeing each guy’s personality and career in context. to try to answer the question. he asks more honestly than all six of them would. (Except, maybe, Matt Wolff. More on that in a bit.)
Money, of course, is the main driver of the schism in the sport, and it’s the main reason those six are in Oregon today. But it is not the only reason.
The crown jewel of this recruiting class, DeChambeau was efficient with his words, disciplined in the scope of his comments. He stayed on message, and his agent, Brett Falkoff, patted him on the back after he left the press center. Work done. It was a notable departure from DeChambeau’s rambling exchanges in his PGA Tour days, before he stopped talking to writers due to perceived slights. It’s like someone finally got through to Bryson to tell him that this is what he needs to say and that he doesn’t need to say anything else.
DeChambeau spoke about his entrepreneurial spirit, his desire to use the money to give back to his hometown communities in California and build a multi-sport complex in Dallas, where he currently resides. She talked about the freedom the schedule gives her to kick back and pursue her own content creation opportunities on YouTube. And, when asked about the source of the money she’s taking, DeChambeau reminded us of a truth in all of this: These guys don’t have to justify his decision. We may want them to, but their paychecks don’t depend on it. LIV is certainly not clamoring for a discussion of morality or geopolitics. DeChambeau said that he wants to focus on “moving forward,” “looking forward” and using the game as a force for good, almost verbatim to Phil Mickelson’s answer to this question.
“I understand people’s decisions and their comments and all of that,” DeChambeau said. “But as far as me is concerned, I personally have made it my own decision. And I won’t say any more about that because there’s no need. We’re golfers at the end of the day. And I think I respect everyone’s opinion, that’s what more important.
“But golf is a force for good and I think as time goes on I hope people look at the good it’s doing and what it’s trying to achieve instead of looking at the bad that happened before.”
DeChambeau also said he tried multiple times to get on the PGA Tour Players Advisory Council to work on changing the tour from the inside, but was unsuccessful. He said he didn’t know what the PGA Tour could have done to prevent him from leaving, but said he hasn’t relinquished his membership and hopes to play on both tours.
Wolff seemed the most genuine of the group. He’s a different cat, he’s not afraid to discuss his challenges with life on the road and the cold competitiveness of the PGA Tour. He said that he felt isolated, depressed, downcast. He just hasn’t been happy for a long time, and he seems to see LIV as a much less stressful option for the life he lived 12 months ago. Wolff loved his time at Oklahoma State, he has said he regrets leaving Stillwater early and spent most of his time there during his break from play last year, and reveled in the team’s atmosphere. . He is a deeply sociable person, perhaps not cut out for the tough individualism of the PGA Tour. He knows it, and he’s fine with it.
“I think this gives us a great opportunity and get back to (why I joined),” Wolff said. “You’re going to put in a lot of effort for your team and that gives you a lot more opportunity to have fun and have little wins and feel good about yourself instead of shooting 75 on Sunday (and feeling like) I could have played better, I could have done this, I could have done that”.
Ancer thinks he’s an entrepreneur. He co-launched a successful tequila company with Mark Wahlberg and has his eyes on other business ventures. The influx of cash, he said, along with a lighter tournament schedule will allow him to live a balanced life between his golf, his family and his business. All three players discussed a lighter schedule, though LIV is expected to expand to a 14-event schedule for 2024, and all three said they are interested in continuing to play the majors, which would bring the total to 18. The PGA Tour does not require its players to compete in any tournaments, so the rationale for a lighter schedule doesn’t hold up perfectly.
“In fact, I made a list of many pros and cons and it was definitely not an easy decision,” said the Mexican. “If it was just a business decision, then yes, it was extremely easy, wasn’t it? But now it comes down to quality of life. And I felt like for the last two or three years I’ve been giving it my all for golf and business.” outside of golf too. So I haven’t really had a life outside of golf in business. So I feel like I haven’t seen much of my family. So yeah, just talk to everyone close to me and the cards on the table.”
Ancer was also asked if he’s worried his golf game will be affected now that he’s not playing PGA Tour competition every week and dealing with a 36-hole cut. He dismissed that, suggesting that he is too competitive a person to simply go through the motions in any competition.
Koepka, who said he had no talks with LIV Golf until after the US Open, struck a rather combative and dismissive tone during his 30 minutes on the podium. When asked what has changed since he vehemently supported the PGA Tour, he simply said “my opinion.” When asked to give details about that, he refused. When asked if he was concerned about future access to the majors, he said playing well will take care of itself, but he didn’t seem overly concerned either way: “I made a decision,” he said. “I’m happy with it, and no matter what happens, I’ll live with it.” The most illuminating part of the press for him came when he talked about his injuries and how the lighter schedule will benefit his worn-out body.
“I came back to play three weeks after knee surgery where they told me you weren’t going to play for six months,” Koepka said. “Just because I didn’t feel like I was going to miss the whole next season. It was just bad timing. Where now, I mean, do I have, what, seven more events to play? I mean, you’re not doing a month on the road ever. more. You know, life goes on even if we’re not playing golf. So being away from home for a month. I don’t have kids that I know of. So being home is not really a thing for me, but life goes on. And there are some things that we miss at home, being friends, family, a lot of birthdays. It would be nice to be home a little more. I think that’s a big thing is that everyone, every single one of these 48 players will say the same thing.”
Reed, wearing a LIVGOLF cap, said he had given up his PGA Tour membership. Reed also did not shy away from criticizing Ponte Vedra. He was asked what the tour could have done to keep him and said “listen to the players for once”. He said the FedEx Cup schedule forced him to play for weeks and the exhaustion that comes with several weeks away from home.
“We have a shorter schedule,” Reed said of LIV. “We actually have an off-season where we can not only be healthy, work on our bodies, but we basically allow ourselves throughout the year, you know, try to peak at the right times, that’s when you’re playing. instead of feeling like you have to play every week and also the quality of life for us as players now, you know, having fewer events, being able to spend more time at home with family, if you have kids, being able to spend time with your kids, and not sit there and have to play three, four weeks in a row, then have a week off, and during that week off you’re preparing yourself trying to be ready for the next week. Now you can set a schedule, go out and put everything what you have in each event. You will never have to save energy”.
Interestingly, he suggested that a fast start is the best way to identify a champion because they all play at the same time; clearly he shares a disdain for the early and late wave system with whoever is behind the @usegolfFACTS account.
Pérez maintained reality: he is 46 years old, has played more than 500 events on the PGA Tour and, for him, this is like “winning the lottery.” He will play much less than he has in the past two decades and make more money.
“I’m a 30-33 week guy,” he said of his previous PGA Tour schedule. “Every year I’ve done it and now I don’t have to. And I can be with them. I can be with my family. At my age, this is an absolute golden opportunity for me. I can play. DJ is my captain. I can play seven this year and anything else in the future. It’s a no-brainer for a guy my age who’s been on tour. I just had three weeks off. I feel great. I couldn’t be more excited about this, and that’s the result final”.
He spoke passionately against the PGA Tour’s handling of the situation, saying he hasn’t quit the PGA Tour because he feels he hasn’t done anything wrong and should be able to play on the PGA Tour Champions when he turns 50.
“(Jay Monahan) doesn’t listen to the players. Somehow the tour they keep talking about, oh yeah, we work for you, we work for the players, we work for the players. It’s the opposite. We seem to work.” . for them. We have nothing to say.”
When asked if he had any concerns about where the money came from, Perez said one word: “no.” And he elicited perhaps the only laugh in a very tense room when he said that “at No. 170 in the world, I’m not worried about the majors.”