NORTH PLAINS, Oregon — Whether you believe the first shot was fired when Phil Mickelson said the PGA Tour uses “manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics” and its commissioner, Jay Monahan, won’t do the right thing “unless you influence.”
Or it was when Monahan revoked playing privileges for those who jumped to LIV Golf and called Greg Norman’s venture “an irrational threat” and a “not concerned about the return on investment or the real growth of the game”, this has become juicy…
And not above some old-fashioned pettiness.
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as the United States LIV Golf Series inaugural event Beginning Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, the traditional competition against the wild kid continues to exchange insults and strategically timed announcements.
Monahan hastened the start of the first LIV event in London by announcing that those who played in the Saudi-backed series have been suspended from the PGA Tour. That verdict came when the entire field stalled in LIV’s shotgun-start format.
LIV responded by welcoming Jupiter’s Brooks Koepka to his team. Minutes into Monahan’s press conference at the Travelers Championship a week ago to announce that the PGA Tour was picking the wallet at several tournaments.
On Tuesday, when LIV introduced three of its newer members, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Matthew Wolff, at Pumpkin Ridge, Monahan revealed the PGA Tour and DP World Tour are expanding and strengthening their alliance.
This will be Duke vs. North Carolina. Elon Musk vs Jeff Bezos. Red Sox vs Yankees. Ron DeSantis versus science. All at odds with each other.
And make no mistake, LIV Golf has certainly captured the attention of the PGA Tour.
So what did some of those players who decided to walk away from the PGA Tour do? They started firing back.
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Like Pat Perez, the 46-year-old who makes no apologies for seeking more money after 20 years while working less and starting 515 on the PGA Tour.
Perez glanced at the field at this week’s PGA Tour event, the John Deere Classic, and it was like a mate in the water.
“The tour has been trying to bolster us all year round and come up with bans and suspensions and stuff,” he said. “And how did that work? Look how many guys are here. That didn’t work at all. So the main threats and all that stuff, and how many big winners have you got here compared to John Deere? Even close.
“The tour wants to keep talking about field strength… the strength of field is here. So whether everyone wants to talk about it or not, that’s what it is. Facts are facts.”
At least for this week, Perez is right. And it’s not close. The John Deere lost its only top 50 player, Jupiter’s No. 25 Daniel Berger, who pulled out on Monday due to issues that plagued him for most of this year. The event features just six of the top 100, led by No. 58 Webb Simpson.
But Perez has to pump the breaks. The LIV event will feature eight players in the top 50, including No. 17 Dustin Johnson and No. 19 Koepka. Certainly not great at this point. But, to Perez’s point, it puts the John Deere field to shame.
Some players are no longer hiding their disgust for the PGA Tour and how it has dealt with the threat of LIV. Some have responded by resigning from the tour; Jupiter’s Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Lee Westwood, Palm Beach Gardens’ Charl Schwartzel among them.
Several were asked what the tour could have done to prevent players from defecting.
“Listen to the players.” said Reed.
“I could at least have taken the call from the LIV group,” Perez said. “At least take a meeting, see what it’s all about. Monahan just shut it down from the beginning. Didn’t want to have a meeting, didn’t want to listen to anyone. Maybe (it) would have been a little different… He doesn’t listen to the players.”
Wednesday’s Word of the Day for Garcia, Westwood, and Martin Kaymer: Communication.
“Transparency is a great thing,” Kaymer said. “It would have been great to evaluate all the options that all the tours have and that we can all decide together, that we can sit down as adults, find a solution that’s not just good for individuals, for the whole tour, for all members.”
Yet no one knows what LIV Golf will look like in three years’ time. Is this the AFL, which has forced a merger with the NFL? Or is this the original USFL, which died after three seasons? (In a related entry, the next US stop for LIV Golf is at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.)
Some of those now taking photos at the PGA Tour have not closed the door on their return to the tour, if allowed.
“I want to play the PGA Tour,” said DeChambeau. “It’s not my decision for me whether I can play or not, but I’d like to keep playing. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Tom D’Angelo is a journalist at the Palm Beach Post† You can reach him at [email protected]†
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: LIV Golfers Compare Field to PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic