NORTH PLAINS, Oregon — Last week, the PGA Tour announced increased wages and new events, among other measures to combat the Saudi-funded LIV tour.
How does that affect the LIV golfers?
“I think it’s great for the guys out there that LIV may have taken other tours to expand their capabilities,” Martin Kaymer said Wednesday. “I think it’s good for all players. The bottom line is it’s great for the members of the tour, but somehow it comes across as everyone fighting each other. That’s not the case, or that shouldn’t have been the case.”
Kaymer and his LIV colleagues may not be interested in trading barbs, but they are still coming their way. While LIV hosts its first tournament in the United States and second overall this week at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, amid further criticism from Rory McIroywho said that players who left the PGA Tour to join LIV did so in an “ambiguous” manner, and several Oregon officials including Senator Ron Wyden, who noted Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record.
Of more big names sign with LIV in recent days, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan revealed changes for the 2023 season to help retain talent. That includes a multimillion-dollar price increase on eight of the PGA Tour’s major tournaments, as well as a calendar year schedule to reduce demand from its golfers, which one of LIV .’s calls in addition to the untold blobs of money players thrown out.
It doesn’t sound like there’s much regret on the LIV side, though.
“For me personally, I’m happy for the guys on the PGA Tour,” said Sergio Garcia. “I’m glad they can enjoy that. I’m just putting it that way.”
Could the Tour have done anything to prevent more players from leaving? Garcia, Kaymer and Lee Westwood all cited transparency and communication as pitfalls, without going into details.
They also expressed their disappointment with the European Tour, which has just launched a 13-year extension of the PGA Tour partnership and recently fined LIV players $120,000 each and banned them from participating in three of the next four events. The exception is: The Open Championshipwhich has already announced that LIV players will be able to compete in Scotland’s St Andrews next month.
“I’ve been a member of the European Tour for 29 years,” said Westwood, who is a European like Kaymer and Garcia, “and for many of those years I’ve also been a member of the PGA Tour, and the European Tour, as long as I have my four (membership retention events) I’ve never had a problem playing elsewhere and now it seems to be a problem.
“Yes, communication, and in terms of fines and sanctions and things like that I am disappointed.”
Monahan has been outspoken against Saudi Arabia and its seemingly bottomless state wealth fund, which finances LIV Golf.
Less than two events in, LIV players are already seasoned veterans of dancing around those questions. But they also emphasize that their own handsome compensation is a net good among golfers.
“I think if we look back at 12 months, yes, there were some problems. There were some problems. But I believe strongly in all tours,” Kaymer said. “…If LIV Golf helps the PGA Tour and the European Tour provide even better playing opportunities and support players even more financially, I think it’s a win-win.”
“The competition is good,” Westwood added. “Keep it simple.”