Major(s) News & Notes August 11th, 2022
Why does LIV have Fred Ridley in its deposition sights? Plus, Women's Open follow-up, the latest look at Augusta National's 13th and a whole bunch of Reads.
Days to the 2023 Masters first tee shot: 238
Now that 2022’s dreamy links season has wrapped, you can imagine how excited I am at the prospect of high-humidity, drive-and-wedge, net championship golf. Also known in some legal circles as the Super Bowl of golf.
In this edition of News & Notes, I focus on one Masters-related portion of the LIV lawsuit (at least while it lasts), then do some Women’s Open tidying up before analyzing the latest Eureka Earth recon images from above Augusta National. We finish a bunch of reads divided into two categories: LIV/Saudi and civilized society. Onward!
LIV Seems Eager To Depose Fred Ridley
As noted in The Quad’s Twitter-heavy roundup of the lawsuit pitting aggrieved LIV golfers versus the PGA Tour, I had planned to highlight all the ways those rocket surgeons at Gibson Dunn seem desperate to draw Augusta National into the proceedings. While I sensed a rush to get the case on the docket for three players who ultimately were denied a chance to tee up this week in Memphis, the desire to pick a fight with Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley stood out to me.
But following the hearing we now know LIV’s lawyers may not have much sense of the golf world. And with just ten players lending their name to the case (after Carlos Ortiz WD’d for undisclosed reasons), it’s hard to see this lasting too long. Especially since the others who did not sign on may be needed to verify claims made in the filing:
Besides needing to someone to testify against Chairman Ridley, the suit also spells out how he declined to meet with Greg Norman. You know, because he takes so many pitch meetings in the weeks leading into The Masters. Here’s where it becomes obvious this will get nasty for all involved:
Presumably the proof will come from depositions featuring 2022 Player Advisory Council members-turned LIV golfers Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka and Graeme McDowell. Given that they did not join the lawsuit, are they that willing to pick a fight with The Masters and Ridley?
Regarding the six Masters champions who’ve officially jumped to LIV, only Phil Mickelson joined the lawsuit. He is (curiously) represented by separate counsel. We’ve since learned Mickelson was facing suspension or was already suspended by the PGA Tour at the time he informed Ridley via text that he was not playing. Whether the Masters might honor Tour suspensions appears to be a looming issue going forward and may explain why former champions Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia may have avoided that hurdle by resigning their PGA Tour memberships.
But this is also The Quad’s friendly reminder that The Masters is an Invitational tournament. The invitation to play comes in the mail. Or it does not.
Women’s Open Follow-Up, Solid U.S. Ratings
Ashleigh Buhai’s 2022 AIG Women’s Open playoff win came in the dark but like any soulful golfer, she was in no hurry to leave greater Gullane. So Buhai posed for some sunlight photos with the trophy in front of Muirfield’s glorious clubhouse. Also, it’s a nice touch posing at the bunker where she saved par to beat In Gee Chun in sudden death.
It’s also a more appropriate image since the now-traditional indoor photo was staged in Muirfield’s men’s-only locker room (one the players did not use last week).
On the U.S. television ratings front, the 2022 edition was played two weeks earlier than last year and scored a nice increase in audience size. Sunday’s three-hour broadcast on NBC drew an average of 1.087 million viewers and a .72 rating. That’s up from 2021’s 798,000/.52 on NBC and comparable to 2019’s staging, the last pre-pandemic edition. Saturday coverage jumped from a ghastly .14/207,000 average on Golf Channel last year to a .49/729,000 average on NBC in 2022.
Latest On Augusta National’s Summer Work
Thanks to Eureka Earth we continue to get updates on Augusta National’s summer upgrades. Aerials show no shortage of sand going down on fairways to help with drainage.
As for the extension of No. 13, the latest images show the near completion of a massive trench through the property, then underneath the 13th fairway and finishing near Rae’s Creek. While this could be a very long water slide requested by the grandchildren of members, more likely it’s an effort to upgrade drainage.
The most recent images also show the extended 13th tee coming along. A hydronics system has been installed underneath to allow for heating or cooling, similar to the system underneath No. 12 green. Also worth noting is the apparent reshaping of the old tee into one long pad, maintaining Augusta National’s minimalist setup but also limiting flexibility.
📺 Joel Beall and Dan Rapaport dive into the LIV v. PGA Tour situation to date with the meat of their story focusing on the importance of landing an American media partner. The story does not address any possible interest by Golf Digest’s owner, Warner Brothers Discovery HBO Turner Max Plus.
🇦🇺 Australian golfer Cameron Percy told RSN Radio Melbourne that Open Champion Cameron Smith and fellow Aussie Marc Leishman have signed with LIV Golf, reports Bob Harig. Another report from The Telegraph’s James Corrigan and Tom Morgan says Smith is headed to LIV after the Presidents Cup for $100 million. Smith, was asked at the FedEx St Jude Classic and offered a non-denial denial, reports Ryan Lavner.
🎙 David Briggs of the Toledo Blade speaks to David Feherty about departing NBC and he refreshingly admits the money was too good to pass up. But also mentioned that he wanted to be a lead analyst and now gets his chance despite mean people who stifled his joke telling. Awful Announcing’s Jay Rigdon can’t fathom why Feherty is playing the cancel culture card.
🏌️♀️ As the U.S. Women’s Amateur is underway at (greener) Chambers Bay, Cameron Jourdan tells us more about the 13-year-old co-medalist. 13.
🏌🏼♂️ Here’s a first look at the field and other notes for the U.S. Amateur at Ridgewood. Medal play begins Monday.
🛥 Finally, The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos dives into the world of luxury yacht making and why the ultra-rich are so self conscious about size—of their boats—with a good explanation of the difference between a mega yacht, super yacht and giga yacht.
On that humbling note, have a fantastic weekend wherever your golf (or giga yacht) takes you!