Bryson DeChambeau says he understands the criticism of the Saudi-backed LIV Gulf Series on human rights issues, but said on Tuesday people should “move away” from previous “bad” Saudi actions.
The 2020 US Open champion spoke ahead of Thursday’s kickoff of the first US event of the upstart tour and second overall at Pumpkin Ridge in North Plains, Oregon.
Asked about concerns about the backers of the new circuit, the 28-year-old American said people should look to the good things LIV Golf can bring.
“I understand people’s decisions about their comments and stuff. But as far as I’m concerned, I made my own decision,” DeChambeau said.
“Golf is a force for good and I think as time goes on hopefully people will see the good they are doing and what they are trying to achieve, rather than looking at the bad that happened before.
“I think it’s important to move forward from there and continue and continue in a positive light is something that can positively impact the future of the game.”
Saudi money backs the richest prizes in golf history with $25 million at stake in this week’s 54-hole tournament. It has lured a number of US PGA Tour stars, despite bans on those jumping to LIV Golf.
Asked about concerns about Saudi involvement, four-time major winner Brooks Koepka said: “We’re here to play golf. We’re excited about it. We’re going out to put on the best show we can.”
American Pat Perez, who also made his LIV debut this week, replied: “I’m not worried. I play golf. This group has given me the opportunity to play golf and have a different schedule and that’s my only concern.
“I understand the topics you’re trying to bring up, and they’re terrible events, but I’m here to play golf. That’s my deal.’
Players said a smaller schedule, just eight events this year, and richer wallets were the top reasons for making the switch to LIV Golf.
“I wanted to spend more time with my kids,” said Patrick Reed, 2018 Masters winner. “I wanted to be a father. And have an opportunity where I can play with some of the best players in the world.
“The reason we can do that is because our wallets are higher.”
– ‘My opinion has changed’ –
Koepka, who had previously supported the PGA, said his decision was made last week.
“My opinion has changed. That was it,” he said. “We didn’t have the conversation until everything was done at the US Open.”
Nagging injuries and recovery times were factors in his choice, citing burnout.
“What I’ve been through on my knees for the past two years, the pain, the rehab, all these things, you realize, I need a little more free time,” Koepka said.
Top players could lose their chances of competing in some majors after this year, if the tournaments follow the US PGA Tour by banning LIV talent.
“When it comes to the majors, we don’t really know where they all stand,” Reed said. “With a green jacket I would think I could play there for the rest of my life. In the end they will have to decide for themselves.”
Reed also noted that PGA has plans to increase prize money at some events in 2023 and launch three new PGA events with high prize money.
“When you see how miraculously the wallets skyrocketed again on the PGA Tour — it just shows that they clearly believe this is not only a real threat, but a great tour if they go and copy what we’re doing.” it,” Reed said.
Koepka accepts his fate, whatever the great organizers decide.
“I’ve made a decision,” he said. “I’m happy with it, and whatever comes of it, I’ll live with it.”