We’re two tournaments in with LIV Golf and everything seems to be going just fine, right? The
defector participant list seems to be growing by the week. The cream is rising to the top with those big-name participants. LIV is the constant topic of conversation at every PGA Tour tournament, and you know what they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Well, much like Kevin Bacon’s Chip Diller trying to direct traffic amidst the chaos of the climactic Faber College Homecoming Parade scene in the cinematic classic National Lampoon’s Animal House, things aren’t what they seem.
What Have We Missed Lately?
In short, everything. Since our post-mortem on the initial LIV Golf event in London, it seems that news has come down day by day, week by week, so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. So, here’s a convenient summary for you.
Newer Faces, Vocal Opponents, and More
defectorsparticipants arrived from the PGA Tour including such heavy-hitters as Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Pat Perez (who might have the most honest – and frankly most heart-wrenching – response about his reason to go with LIV), Matthew Wolff, and Abraham Ancer
- LIV Golf Portland took place two weeks ago with Branden Grace – who finished third in the initial event – taking home the trophy; DJ and Patrick Reed finished tied for third in an otherwise reasonably well-stacked top 10, and DJ’s team comprised of himself, Perez, Reed, and Talor Gooch won the lucrative team component
- Rory McIlroy isn’t backing down anytime soon, saying there’s “no room in the golf world for LIV Golf”
- Billy Horschel has joined the chorus going so far as to call some of his *former* colleagues hypocrites
- The PGA Tour has suddenly found money and decided to introduce additional events in a LIV-like tournament format for top players starting in 2023
- The PGA Tour and DP World Tour announced an extended 13-year “operational joint venture partnership” to counter the LIV Golf tour
- LIV Golf has officially applied for inclusion in the Official World Golf Rankings, in an attempt to garner legitimacy and future consideration for PGA Tour and DP World Tour events and the Major championships
- The PGA Tour is under investigation by the Department of Justice for antitrust violations against LIV Golf – allegations that Monahan seems confident they’ll beat
- LIV Golf private plane parties are luxurious and full of Pat Perez rocking some Queen (after shooting a less than mediocre third/final round 80)
LIV Golf Has a Problem
Now that we’re caught up, it’s time to get real. LIV Golf has got some good things going for it right now. They’re pulling in some real star power and deserve credit for that (even if it is dirty money that’s getting those stars). The team component is something that I believe the PGA Tour should look to adapt for an event in the near future. The overall caliber of play is rising now that everyone is finding their footing. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
It’s a Greg Norman Problem
I believe that the biggest problem LIV Golf has that keeps them from being taken seriously may very well be the thing – or person, I should say – that got them there. His name is Greg Norman. With his pedigree of 20 PGA Tour wins including major championship performances, international wins, and years of ambassadorship for the game, there was a legitimacy behind the name. He’d established himself as a consistent player who, while having accumulated wins over several decades, also seemed to come up short in big situations (final rounds and playoffs, alike). So perhaps this caused an animosity to brew within him for the PGA Tour.
When presented with the opportunity to helm the LIV Golf Invitational series, it seems to he jumped at the opportunity (and money) to stick it to the PGA Tour and Jay Monahan as much as possible. While he spends half of his time building up and selling the product that they’re creating, extolling the virtue of those who are joining him along the way, and seeing himself as a visionary for the future of golf and growing the game, there’s the remaining part that does nothing but attack attack attack. And more often than not, it’s the PGA Tour and Jay Monahan, specifically, in his crosshairs. He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth.
Us (LIV Golf) vs. Them (PGA Tour/DP World Tour)
The problem is that this is causing LIV Golf to constantly lose the PR battle. Rather than seeing positivity in articles, recaps, and overall summation of events for what they were, talk always circles back to “Us vs. Them”. Greg Norman said this. Greg Norman did that. I guarantee he has no problem being the face of LIV Golf and probably even relishes being the bad guy because he thinks he’s on some crusade to take down the big bad PGA Tour.
To be sure, the path to change in any aspect of life is often paved with hardship. The PGA Tour as we know it today was fraught with its own controversy back in 1968 when the players (led by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer) broke off as a separate entity from the PGA of America. Change can cause pain and hurt, but ultimately can be used for the better if done properly. The problem is that he is not doing it properly. If he continues in this manner, I believe he could do more damage to the LIV Golf brand, to their name, to his name, and, ultimately, could be the demise of the whole thing. This runs directly counter to the stated objective of growing the game.
The Open Championship Invite… Closed
So, just how bad is it right now for Mr. Norman? Recall that the oldest Major championship in golf – The Open Championship – is celebrating its 150th playing this year, and at the Old Course at St. Andrew’s no less. Greg Norman has twice been crowned Champion Golfer of the Year: in 1986 at Turnberry and in 1993 at Royal St. George’s. The controlling body of The Open Championship, the R&A, disinvited the two-time champion from all events leading up to the tournament, this news coming months after they also shut down speculation about Norman seeking a special exemption to play.
“In response to enquiries regarding The R&A Celebration of Champions field and the Champions’ Dinner, we can confirm that we contacted Greg Norman to advise him that we decided not to invite him to attend on this occasion,” said the R&A in a statement on Saturday. “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.”
Of course, being Greg Norman, he had to fire back, as he does.
“I’m disappointed,” he told Australian Golf Digest. “I would have thought the R&A would have stayed above it all given their position in world golf. It’s petty, as all I have done is prompt and grow the game for golf globally, on and off the golf course, for more than four decades.”
Petty or not, this is one of the biggest and boldest (if also subtle) statements against what Greg Norman is doing when he claims he’s “trying to grow the game”.
The GOAT Speaks on LIV Golf
So let’s see… we’ve heard from Rory. We’ve heard from Billy Horschel. We’ve heard from Jon Rahm. Heck, we’ve even heard from Collin Morikawa. Who has arguably the biggest voice and presence in golf in the last 30 years? Who can literally move mountains with words (never mind what he can do with a putter)? We hadn’t heard from, as the kids say, the GOAT yet. In fact, he’s been eerily silent on this issue for months. Not anymore… Tiger has spoken. At his presser for The Open Championship, Tiger eloquently – and bluntly – shared his many thoughts on LIV Golf and what it’s doing for the sport overall. And folks, he didn’t mince words. Some highlights…
“I understand what Jack and Arnold did [in leaving the PGA of America to found the PGA Tour] because playing professional golf at a Tour level versus a club pro is different, and I understand that transition and that move and the recognition that a touring pro versus a club pro is,” Woods said. “But what these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You’re just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They’re playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.”
Tiger started this answer with a line about sleeping on a plank of wood and ended it with a nine-paragraph dissertation on the failings of LIV Golf. pic.twitter.com/Rn7XQP8lYD— James Colgan (@jamescolgan26) July 12, 2022
“I just don’t see how that move is positive in the long term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organization doesn’t get world-ranking points and the major championships change their criteria for entering the events,” Woods said. “It would be sad to see some of these young kids never get a chance to experience it and experience what we’ve got a chance to experience and walk these hallowed grounds and play in these championships.”
Ouchtown, population Greg Norman and LIV Golf, bro.
While We’re on the Subject of The Open Championship…
Check out the Belly Up Sports team’s preview of The Open Championship this weekend. While I’m keen to watch names like OWGR number one Scottie Scheffler, defending 2021 Champion Golfer of the Year Collin Morikawa, the currently hot Rory McIlroy, and the aforementioned GOAT Tiger Woods, I have a strong suspicion that, much like Matt Fitzpatrick’s victory a few weeks ago at the U.S. Open, we will see a new face holding the Claret Jug on Sunday. Will Zalatoris anybody?
Like what I have to say? Hate it? Indifferent? Follow me anyway on Twitter for my sports takes, opinions, and occasional thoughts I throw out for general consumption. Go check out my appearance on the “F” in Sports podcast from several weeks ago, talking about all things LIV Golf and PGA Tour-related. Please also go check out more Belly Up Sports content and see what we’ve got in store for you.