How Will LIVfectors Be Greeted In The Home Of Golf?
Abandoning Europe and the Ryder Cup could lead to a chillier reception in St Andrews. Plus, a quick weekend recap, Tiger arrives at Adare Manor and a Scottish Open field update.
The Open at St Andrews traditionally has some of the most welcoming galleries in sports. Something magical about the cinematic setting, the beyond-rich history and privilege of walking around town during an Open keeps the mashed potatoheads home.
But I was asked if there was any chance the breakaway bros might receive a rude welcome this year. I gave a definitive, “no way.” The people lucky enough to get a 2022 ticket would not risk ejection because, I reasoned, it’s Scotland! It’s St Andrews! Oh, and the R&A has all of their contact information from the ticket ballot.
It’s tough to imagine some Scot yelling at Bryson to lose the gut or telling Bruce Kopeka to go back to Kansas.
Since I was on a strict No LIV diet this weekend, I had not seen a few stories suggesting less than positive things happening for the LIVfectors. The insincere and grumpy early week press conferences did not exactly help their images. When you put it all in one package, the greatest enemy of LIV may not be Greg Norman or the Saudis, but the players when they speak.
The strange week kicked off with a DP World Tour statement throwing several of their once-beloved former Ryder Cup stars under the bus. Seems the guys were shocked by their recent fine. So the Tour detailed how little the letter-writing whiners have supported the operation.
Then there was Sergio Garcia who, as The Telegraph’s James Corrigan reports, threw a monster hissy fit at the BMW International. Think Tony Montana in full “say hello to my little friend mode.” (Minus the mansion, guns and cocaine.)
“The news [of the ban] came out during last week's BMW International [in Munich]," a leading player, who wished to remain anonymous, told Telegraph Sport. "Sergio flew off the handle, shouting 'this Tour is s***, you're all fucked, should have taken the Saudi money'. Bob MacIntyre was there and was disgusted."
MacIntyre and his management company declined to comment when approached by Telegraph Sport - as did Garcia's representative - but later in that tournament the Scottish golfer posted a tweet. “Amazing how fast you can lose respect for someone that you’ve looked up to all your life,” MacIntyre, 25, wrote.
The ugly incident has been the talk of the range at the Irish Open, that finishes at Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny on Sunday. There was enough ill-feeling even before the “Sour 16”, as they are now being labelled, sent in their letter to Wentworth HQ, giving an ultimatum for the sanctions to be lifted, a demand to which the DP World Tour has steadfastly refused to cave in.
And to think there were future Ryder Cup captains in the Sour 16.
Another unnamed player has been ostracized from his American club for joining LIV, reports Michael McEwan. While he would not report the player name pending a response from Hudson Swafford’s ten-percenters, it sure sounds like him. If clubs start kicking players out for joining LIV, fans may sense the boys are fair game when walking to the 12th tee.
Paul Casey is hoping to play the 150th Open after pulling out of 2022’s first three majors. The ex-UNICEF ambassador will then join LIV starting at the in New Jersey where the big food-thrower himself is hosting at Trump Bedminster. Or, as Team Crushers captain Bryson DeChambeau called it in a welcome video, Bedminister.
Talor Gooch continued his torrid stretch of stupidity by saying he can’t imagine much difference between LIV’s event atmosphere and a Ryder or Presidents Cup. Barring a major change in policy, he’ll have to keep imagining.
At what point does the money become obnoxious to people? As Branden Grace was picking up $4 million for winning the Portland stop, the final round got just under 700,000 YouTube views, up from 408,645 for the London inaugural but about half of a good French bulldog meltdown (Walter Geoffrey or Griffin are pretty fine examples in the 1.4 million territory). Plus, given the number of Twitter bots now populating everyone’s LIV Tweets, the views could be just about anyone goosing the numbers. Either way, media and fans do not like bots. Or lavishly rewarding mediocrity.
It remains to be seen whether any of the 300,000 who got an Open ticket were exposed to the LIV players wheeling out family and playing less as key selling points. Hopefully next week’s Open fans had better things to do, but sports desks across the world are reporting huge traffic on LIV-related stories.
Maybe fans will pity the fools knowing that world ranking points aren’t ever coming. For non-major winners, this means LIV players will eventually struggle to qualify (D.J. Piehowski has a solid Tweet thread here explaining how the rules are working against much of a points future for those not already exempt into majors).
There is one other twist related to the 150th: many of those ticket holders are reportedly in for a day or two. Locals and longtime Open attendees were not successful getting tickets. While I’m not expecting a bunch of bros and hooligans to have entered the ballot successfully, a different Open demographic could mean some are less worried about getting ejected. After all, they since they can pop into town and enjoy a pint.
My hunch: fans will take notice of what players say early in the week. And if the LIV contestants are smart—most of them are not—they’ll say all the right things: