LIV v. PGA Tour: You Just Have To Laugh
Don't be sad when the upstart league arrives at Trump Bedminster this week. The First World tussle is delivering too many giggles and making the majors more major.
I’ve purposely stayed clear of sharing St Andrews scuttlebutt surrounding Saudi Arabia’s takeover efforts because,
(A) this is a newsletter about major championships, especially when one is underway. At the Old Course.
(B) who knows how much of the gossip was true?
(C) we will have years of this manspatting to analyze winners, losers and the impact on majors. Which, as noted in point A, are the events you signed up to read about.
But we also have to savor Greg Norman showing us his true colors and watching the PGA Tour squirm. Particularly given how much energy the Ponte Vedra gang devoted to gaining control of its media partners, attempting to discredit critics of their fading model, and all while ignoring a gaping thermal exhaust port hole in the Global Home. Still, the truly bad guys in this Jenkins-on-Addy novel also see golf as just a thing to sell. But the Saudis want to fund a disruptive league to get more people thinking they aren’t so awful.
This week, you have to laugh at what’s before us: LIV Golf arriving at Trump Bedminster armed with old blood in the form of Stenson, Kokrak and Howell III, hosted by a man 59% of Americans believe should be criminally charged.
Growing the game!
Contrary to the bleak assessments of those who also have skin in this grow the game effort, the coming months will not lead to a tragic implosion of the sport. As R&A Chief Martin Slumbers reminded us during The Open, the sport is defined by the 70 million who play golf, not the inner workings of professionals and the size of their newly established offshore accounts. A strong case could be made that LIV is doing the sport a favor by scooping up the worst of the worst, then burying them on YouTube where they’ll be the 496th most viewed item each day behind a Bad Bunny music video and just ahead of squabbling corgis.
There should be joy in watching the greed, arrogance and waste of dirty money going to grown men who happen to play a ball-and-stick game decently during the right months in human history. And sure, the pro game will move to even greater niche status in a LIV world. But by not addressing their “product”, the PGA Tour has unknowingly been on a pro tennis trajectory by supporting entitlement, the dreary power game and an incoherent schedule vision that will Grand Slam events the only meaningful weeks.
None of this is funny if you are the television executives who sold the bosses on nine years and dreams of raking in millions from live betting. Nor is this funny for the charities relying on tournament proceeds. Otherwise?
You just have to laugh…
At how pro golf keeps offering reminders of what inspirational “grow the game” stories actually look like. Whether it was the sensational major season, the recent Celebration of Champions at The Open, the first U.S. Adaptive Open or something as simple as Richie Ramsay winning the Cazoo Classic last week, the real sportsmen and women keep showing us what matters.
At how shady Greg Norman looks every time he’s photographed these days.
At Scott Piercy contending. This charmer has been “liking” Kevin Na’s goodbye letter and David Feherty’s hiring on Twitter, the pro golfer equivalent of saying-without-saying, “Greg, I’m still here and would have played the Shark Shootout if you had invited me!” Piercy is a Q-Anon clown who was likely suspended for sharing some quack stuff on The Gram, only to lose a few sponsors—but not Netjets!?—who auditioned for LIV at the 3M Open before collapsing Sunday. There is no better embodiment of the suspensions-are-private, 154-superstars, player-first model. Too bad Greg says LIV’s all filled up for 2022.
At the players LIV gives millions to. You could see some wisdom at throwing huge advances toward U.S. Amateur champions and promising young players even if the dollar amounts were absurd. Or, hiring journeyman who will be good in a pro-am and somewhat recognizable to fans. But as LIV gained some name major winners, they have not grown discerning. Just laugh at this spectacular waste of oligarch riches on players just riding out their careers a little longer.
At David Feherty moving to LIV Golf. Needing go-fers to get you to your mark and relentlessly mailing it in? LIV’s most on-brand hire yet!
At Phil Mickelson’s cameo in the Feherty welcome video where he’s speaking from a gorilla pen in Rwanda. FIGJAM’s really on an optics roll!