The split of LIV is starting to threaten the game

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Phil Mickelson was reportedly paid $200mn to sign with LIV

Phil Mickelson was reportedly paid $200mn to sign with LIV Golf

The battle between the LIV series and the rest of professional golf is becoming personal. On the LIV side, some of the players who have moved have made critical comments about the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour; others have resorted to legal challenges to their bans, with four players who had participated in the LIV series being reinstated for last week’s Scottish Open.

This has not gone down well with some of the players who have chosen to stay.

According to Golf Monthly, the LIV Tour had already driven a wedge between McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, despite McIlroy having been an usher at Garcia’s wedding in 2017. Reportedly the rhetoric between the two has been “bitter and personal” (Garcia has been critical of the PGA Tour while McIlroy has been its most vocal and high profile defender).

More recently, American Billy Horshel didn’t mince words in his press conference prior to the Scottish Open last week: “They [the LIV players]keep talking about how PGA Tour doesn’t listen to them. But a lot of guys are hypocrites. They are not telling

the truth and [are]lying about some things. I just can't stand to sit here anymore and be diplomatic as I have been in the past.”

In particular, he refuted the argument that the players could not choose their own schedule on the PGA Tour, an argument some players have made to justify switching to LIV. “Yes, we are independent contractors; we do sign a contract to meet certain requirements of the PGA Tour,” said Horschel. “But we have the opportunity to make our schedules. To say that we have to play X amount of events and then don’t have time off, no one makes you.”

Meanwhile Ryan Knox, who sits on the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council, had this to say about players who want to continue to play the PGA or DP World Tours: “I heard something Gary Player said, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. If you’ve gone and you’re happy with the decision, own up to it, play that tour and be done with it. But the guys trying to double-dip, shame on them, actually.”

He also said that “one potentially good thing for the European Ryder Cup Team is it’s got rid of all the old boys who were hanging on for dear life, hasn’t it? They’re gone now. So good, there’ll be a lot of great young players coming in and it might be the best thing that’s ever happened for us.”

However, the Ryder Cup hasn’t yet banned the players on the LIV Tour from being selected. If players from the LIV tour do make the team, what does that do to team chemistry? How do the players come together for one week and behave as if everything is fine?

Over the weekend, it emerged that neither Phil Mickelson nor Greg Norman would be part of the R&A’s 150th British Open celebrations. Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, chose not to attend but Norman, who won the 1986 and 1993 British Opens was told by the R&A that he was not invited because of his role with LIV. “The 150th Open is an extremely important milestone for golf and we want to ensure that the focus remains on celebrating the championship and its heritage.

Unfortunately, we do not believe that would be the case if Greg were to attend. We hope that when circumstances allow Greg will be able to attend again in future.”

That two former champions are not part of what should be a joyous occasion for golf is an ominous sign of what might lie ahead if things continue to remain acrimonious.

That’s why McIlroy’s recent comments calling for the different sides to sit down are

so important and need to be heeded.

“Everyone has to pivot and change and try to be better and hopefully get to that stage but … all the narrative isn’t good. It’s splitting the game instead of everyone coming together,” McIlroy reportedly told the BBC.

At the very least everyone involved on both sides needs to turn the temperature down. If they can’t, they risk doing lasting damage to the sport itself, which is the opposite of what everyone claims to want.

 

 


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Photo – Sportsunfold.com


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