Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
You might not believe this, but there is a PGA Tour event this weekend. One can hardly be blamed for losing focus on the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, when most golf headlines continue to be dominated by LIV Golf.
The upstart — although calling an outfit with billions in backing an upstart stretches the connotative meaning of that word into the absurd — spent another week seeking new ways to chip away at the PGA’s hegemonic grip on the U.S. market, while its new golfers sought to take a substantial chunk out of the PGA’s coffers.
LIV’s headlines need not even be particularly flattering for the company to maintain its grip on the sports fan’s psyche.
Last week, golfing legend and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that Tiger Woods, “the” name in golf for the past three decades, had turned down an offer of between $700 and $800 million to jump to LIV.
“That number has been out there, yes,” Norman said. “Tiger is a needle mover. So [of] course you got to look at the best of the best. They had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO.”
Meanwhile, a group of 11 LIV golfers, most notable among them Phil Mickelson, filed a federal antitrust suit against the PGA Tour alleging their careers and earning potential had been damaged when the PGA suspended them for joining LIV.
LIV Golf does not require its players to avoid other tours, but the PGA has taken a hardline stance against players who have bolted.
Golf Magazine, which offers a more detailed explanation of the suit, reported that PGA President Jay Monahan had vowed to defend the tour as the LIV golfers seek as-yet-unspecified damages.
“It’s an attempt to use the Tour platform to promote themselves and to freeride off [PGA Golfers’] benefits and efforts,” Monahan said in a separate Golf Magazine article. “To allow reentry into our events compromises the Tour and the competition,” Monahan said. “The lawsuit they have filed somehow expects us to believe the opposite, which is why we intend to make our case clearly and vigorously.”
On Carlson’s show, Norman minced no words and called the PGA a monopoly that will stop at nothing to end LIV Golf.
“They’re not going to shut us down because the product is speaking for itself,” Norman said. “We have almost on a daily basis, we get calls every day from players [saying] ‘I want in’…the list gets longer and longer for the players who want to come in. Which again, is a testament to the right white noise.”
The most recent big-time signing for LIV occurred last week when two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson announced he had switched tours.
But not everyone has been able to make the LIV leap.
For months now, LIV has seemed to be spending almost without care to bring in every name it could. Even retired players – Norman was reportedly the second choice for CEO behind living legend Jack Nicklaus – were fair game.
Many experts wondered if LIV knew the meaning of the word “no.”
That was until aging long-driver and multiple-major-winner John Daly requested Norman add him to the LIV roster. Daly, now a fixture on the PGA Champions Tour (perhaps better known to casual fans as what used to be called the PGA Senior Tour), told television host Piers Morgan his reason for the request was simple.
“We don’t play for a lot of money on the Champions Tour,” Daly, who has a lengthy history of financial booms and busts, said. “I almost feel like I’m not getting a lot out of this. What are we doing? I’d rather play with amateurs than the pros sometimes, but we’ve got to get compensated for that, and the LIV Tour is giving players that.
“They play pro-ams. It’s a big party. They play for a lot of money, which these guys that are on that tour deserve that money. And I think there’s a lot of other guys that deserve that money, especially this old man.”
Daly, whose struggles with alcohol, participation in pre- and extra-marital sex, and extensive history with gambling and gluttony would have made him an odd choice for LIV Golf and its predominantly conservative Muslim Saudi backers under any circumstance, said the primary reason for his rejection was age.
“Well, Greg says he’s not doing any more [invitations], and I’m too old,” Daly said.
In all probability, Daly was only half right in his assessment.
At 56, Daly is well past his prime playing days; and with a track record largely consisting of poor business choices and a lack of self-control, he does not fit the bill of an executive.