Mellow Masters Green Brings Out Red Hot Competition
• Professional golf became more complicated with the emergence of the LIV tour.
Last weekend, the best golfers in the world teed it up at the Masters, one of the greatest and most significant golf tournaments each year.
Of course, golf is an individual sport. But for the first time in the history of the Masters, there was a deep-rooted rivalry that seeped through every aspect of the tournament – the rivalry between the Professional Golf Asssociation (PGA) Tour and newly formed LIV Golf.
The drama and tension around the tournament were palpable, and golf fans should expect many more chapters in the bizarre, yet fascinating, feud between the PGA Tour and LIV.
LIV Golf was founded in 2021 as the first serious competitor to the PGA Tour in many decades. Before it even existed, LIV was extremely controversial, primarily because it receives significant financial backing from Saudi Arabia.
LIV was promoted as being a super-league for the best golfers in the world to compete in. This countered the PGA Tour’s 45-event schedule where top players rarely compete. In addition, LIV plays just three 18-hole rounds as opposed to the PGA Tour’s four, and LIV has introduced teams to the game of golf.
There are plenty of reasons professional golfers would be enticed to join LIV. First and foremost, the money is massive and guaranteed.
LIV contracts offer huge amounts of money upfront. Phil Mickelson is rumored to have signed a $200 million contract with LIV, all of which will be his regardless of how he performs in tournaments. In other words, there is no pressure for LIV players to perform in order to put food on the table, and LIV players are striking it rich just by signing a contract.
This differs greatly from the PGA Tour, where even the best players in the world risk not making a penny week after week.
In addition, LIV promises better treatment for its best players. On the PGA Tour, every player is responsible for his own travel expenses, including his hotel room.
Doesn’t it seem a little silly that Tiger Woods has to pay for his own flight and hotel room every time he plays in a tournament? LIV offers a solution to that by completely covering all of these expenses for their players.
LIV has been able to attract many of the top golfers in the world. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, and Phil Mickelson all made the jump from the PGA Tour. However, LIV golf still remains extremely disliked by golf fans. Although the Saudi controversy continues to loom over LIV, it is probably most disliked due to the threat that it poses to competitive golf. The PGA Tour is cutthroat.
On Tour, even the best players are fighting for their dinner, week after week. And on Tour, a seemingly random professional can come out of nowhere and win a tournament.
On LIV, there is much less encouragement to actually win due to the structure of contracts. LIV is far more laid back than the PGA Tour, as made evident by the fact that LIV players can wear shorts during events.
At the Masters, Jon Rahm (from the PGA Tour) dueled with Brooks Koepka (from LIV) during the final round. For the fans, it felt like the finish was as much about PGA Tour vs. LIV as it was Rahm vs. Koepka. Rahm, ultimately, prevailed and won the Green Jacket at Augusta. In the eyes of the fans, the good guy won last weekend.
But maybe one of the huge flaws of the PGA Tour is made evident again this week. Barely half a week after getting to the top of the golf world, Rahm is playing in Hilton Head, S.C., at the seemingly meaningless RBC Heritage tournament.
After the long week in Augusta, Koepka has time to rest this weekend. The next LIV event comes next weekend in Australia. Rahm had to pay for his own private jet to Hilton Head, while Koepka will be flying in style to Australia on LIV’s tab. Rahm just hopes he makes the cut this weekend in order to cover his rental house, while Koepka pocketed $100 million before even swinging a club.
There are a ton of dynamics in the rivalry between LIV and the PGA Tour. But one thing is for sure: golf fans are in for many more dramatic battles in majors over the coming years. It should be fun to watch.