PGA Tour pros react to LIV Golf’s denied requests for London event
When the PGA Tour sent an email to its members on Tuesday evening informing players that it had refused conflicting event release requests to play in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event in London the same week as the RBC Canadian Open of the Tour, he was bound to become a topic of conversation at this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.
“As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interests of the PGA Tour and its players,” wrote Tyler Dennis, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Tour.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler said he had a busy night at home, got up early and played his pro am and didn’t get a lot of time to process the decision of the Tour, but that he had on the face of it supported the decision.
“I thought it was something that would happen,” he said in his press conference ahead of the AT&T Byron Nelson Tournament in his hometown of Dallas. “If you’re playing here on the PGA Tour, playing in something that might be a rival series to the PGA Tour, you’re a member of our Tour, that’s definitely not something we want our members to do. because it’s going to hurt the tournament that we have in front of this and that’s, I’m sure that’s why they were, why they didn’t release the players Because if we have 15 guys, come on out there and play, it hurts the RBC and the Canadian Open.
Will Zalatoris, rookie of the year and a member of the Tour’s Players’ Advisory Council, participated in closed-door discussions and fully supported the decision made by commissioner Jay Monahan.
“I thought that was the perfect answer,” Zalatoris said. “Because we’re in a great place, the Tour is in the best place it’s ever been, it’s only going to get better and why would we, why would we encourage our players to get releases for these events then that we basically have all these sponsors who are involved in the Tour and only make it better and better and we try to promote our best possible product and if you want to be part of what is only getting better then you shouldn’t have it both ways. It’s up to you, I mean, you really do. You can go if you want to, but, you know, that’s the way it is.
Justin Thomas has made it clear many times that he wants to win tournaments and create an in-game legacy more than just filling his bank account with more profit.
“I hope that will deter them from going there,” he said. “I think Jay was very clear from the start about what was going to happen or, you know, I think a lot of people are probably like ‘I can’t believe you did that’ or ‘Wow, you went through that.’ But I mean, that’s what he said was going to happen from the start. And, yeah, it’s one of those things where he just doesn’t want the competing tour, back and forth. You know, it’s like, look, if you want to go, go. I mean there’s been a lot of guys who have been advocates for it and talked about it all the time and they’ve been guys behind the scenes saying, ‘I’m going, I’m doing this.’ And like all my stuff is, how to go then. Like stop going back and forth or like you say you’re going to do that, it’s like you can do — everyone has the right to do whatever they want, you know what I mean?
“Like if I wanted to go play this tour, I could go play this tour. But I’m loyal to the PGA Tour and I’ve said that and I think there’s a lot of opportunity for me to, I mean, break records, write history, do a lot of things on the PGA Tour what I want to do. And there might be people who want to make that change and it’s like you have the right to make that decision, you’re a human being and that’s just part of that.
Former European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who has played most of his career on the DP World Tour, has been captain, Ryder Cup team-mate and competitor with many European players linked to the membership in the LIV series (including Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia among others) brings a Eurocentric perspective. He spoke his mind in an interview Wednesday with SiriusXM and joined Scheffler, Thomas and Zalatoris in supporting established tours, which announced a strategic alliance in 2020 and are said to be discussing a closer relationship to push back the Saudi threat.
“I’m not going to make it personal, they’re all friends of mine,” McGinley said. “But I’m very traditionalist, I’m very aligned with the PGA, the DP World Tour and the major championships indeed in terms of maintaining and improving the status quo that we have right now, which is, you know, every week we have European and PGA tours so I want to improve it I think we have some commonalities between the two tours trying to improve that, uh, to get a global program in a way I know that there are talks behind the scenes about these two major tours coming together and working more collaboratively in the future.
LIV Golf, which on Tuesday announced a $2 billion infusion to support its launch, touted sky-high purses and guaranteed money to entice players to attend its events.
“I can kind of understand and see where the guys are coming from. I mean, the amount of money that’s been put on the table is an incredible, huge amount. And so late in their career, an opportunity to make so much money,” McGinley said. “In many ways, I can relate to the allure they were offered and why it would interest them. But it’s certainly not, personally from my point of view, the side of the fence where I am.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a pro who splits his time on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour told our Eamon Lynch the following: “I’m sure I’m weighing the pros and cons of making a jump like this. What a Jay [Monahan] decides is an extremely important part of that. Asking permission to play an international “tour” event is something I have done with the PGA Tour since I first picked up my card many years ago. I understand that the initial construction of this LIV Tour was destructive in nature if the PGA Tour did not want to be a part of it. Here, in the short term, events are timed to be as non-confrontational as possible, which is hard to do. As a player who plays multiple tours, conflicting events are something we always deal with and I can’t see how the LIV tour is any different until there are 48 guys locked in for 14 events per season.