With LIV Golf Here, PGA Tour Players Wonder If Tour Will Finally Find Transparency – Sports Illustrated

The clichés came out this week when the LIV Golf field was finally released on Tuesday night.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
“It’s only the first inning.”
But the field list solidified that a war is finally afoot between the PGA Tour and LIV golf.
Like the Phony War of the 1940s when France and Britain were unwilling to physically engage with Germany after they invaded Poland in September 1939 and hid behind the Maginot Line, the PGA Tour and LIV Golf have thrown harmless hand grenades via the media, but nothing substantive has come of it except for amusing copy.

That all changed on Tuesday, when a list of 42 players was released, with the biggest surprise being Dustin Johnson, the same player that just months earlier had pledged his fealty to the PGA Tour.
Johnson was floated a reported $100 to $125 million signing bonus. It’s not a surprise that he jumped.
It’s fair to say that Johnson didn’t make the move easily, talking to different players and others in the golf industry he respected, but ultimately the money made the decision for him.
Dustin Johnson headlines the opening LIV Golf event, but many current PGA Tour players will join him in the field. 
USA Today
He’s not alone. Australian Matt Jones and American Hudson Swafford were also convinced by the money that the PGA Tour is a nice place to visit, but the new LIV Tour provides financial opportunities unrealized on their current tour.
Publicly, players often talk about competing and growing the game when asked about the new tour, but privately? It’s the money, first and foremost.
The players want certain things to change on the PGA Tour. They want transparency, not because they really care about how things are operating but because they’re trying to better understand where the money is going.
Phil Mickelson was the poster boy in this discussion, as he outright accused the Tour of “obnoxious greed,” and while players didn’t agree with Mickelson’s approach, they quietly were cheering his resolve to get answers they have not been able to get.
Players also like the fact that the 500-pound gorilla, the PGA Tour, is finally up against another 500-pound gorilla that may be even bigger than the Tour and can’t get pushed around so easily.
That the LIV Tour has life forced commissioner Jay Monahan to make changes, such as creating the PIP program and expanding purses more quickly.
Some players are pleased that Monahan drew a line in the sand and didn’t grant releases for the first LIV event in London. They saw that as a positive step.
“We have notified those who have applied that their request has been declined in accordance with the PGA TOUR Tournament Regulations. As such, TOUR members are not authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event under our Regulations,” said PGA Tour senior vice president Tyler Dennis in a memo to players on May 10. “As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA TOUR and its players.”
The Tour doubled down on that response after the LIV field was released and did mention disciplinary action.
“As communicated to our entire membership on May 10, PGA TOUR members have not been authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event, under PGA TOUR Tournament Regulations. Members who violate the Tournament Regulations are subject to disciplinary action.”
The question is, what disciplinary action is the Tour willing to dole out?
The level of agreement between the commissioner and his members seems unequivocal on this topic.
In discussions with players all week at the Memorial Tournament, a majority do not believe that disciplinary action for playing in the LIV event should include banning a player in the future.
“I really don’t see the sense in it,” Xander Schauffele said. “I obviously understand why they have to, I guess or try to, if they want to keep this the stronghold of golf. But from an objective standpoint, I feel like (you) kind of should be able to play where you want to play.”
Many players have taken the position that those leaving the Tour to play elsewhere is their prerogative since they are independent contractors.
If Jones and Swafford made the decision that they are playing in London for the betterment of their families, does the Tour have the right to interfere?
“I have some very close friends that are playing in this event in London, and I certainly wouldn’t want to stand in their way to, for them to do what they feel is right for themselves,” Rory McIlroy said last week. “I certainly — it’s not something that I would do personally. But I certainly understand why some of the guys have went, and it’s something that we are all just going to keep an eye on and see what happens over these next few weeks.”
Australian Adam Scott, who was mentioned as a possible LIV candidate, takes a different look at the issue and questions what the Tour’s true motivations are.
“Don’t think any players are going to say they should be banned because in case they find themselves in that position of going, they want to hedge their bets,” Scott said. “However, I think I come at it from a just a different angle if that is the situation. I really don’t think the PGA Tour should be worried about any of it. If they are, then there’s a problem here. So, I would fix that if they’re worried. I really, I see it being just good overall for professional golf is how I see it. I’m glad it’s starting.”
The fact that players can’t get a straight answer from the Tour on what they may be facing if they decide to play on another tour or the fact that Augusta National, the PGA of America, USGA or the R&A seem unwilling to answer how they will treat these players makes it difficult for some players to pull the trigger.
For Monahan, he has a lot to unpack after his discussions with his players this week at the Memorial:
1. Most PGA Tour players are against banning LIV players.
2. Most players are willing to listen to what the LIV tour is offering and if it is good enough, they will move on from the PGA Tour.
3. Most players still have unresolved issues with transparency and where the PGA Tour’s money is coming from. They would like more clarity.
One issue that has almost complete unanimity with players is the desire for the PGA Tour to have some discussions with the LIV Tour. Many can’t understand why the Tour has been unwilling to open a line of communication.
Which poses another question: does Monahan have the right people advising him?
Is it time for Monahan to bring in a wartime consigliere?
Of course, former commissioner Tim Finchem would be at the top of the list. And while it’s clear that Monahan talks with Finchem often, since they live in the same neighborhood in Florida, it would seem a new perspective is required.
“It doesn’t help us,” Schauffele said of losing players. “Who’s interested in losing guys like Louis (Oosthuizen), Charl (Schwartzel), Branden (Grace), the core group of PGA Tour. That’s how I grew up watching this. It just can’t be good for us. And so, our boys (PGA Tour) here need to start acting quickly. And then try and keep us on the tour.”
– 2021 U.S. Amateur Champion Rolls Dice, Enters LIV Golf Debut Event
– Kevin Na Resigns From PGA Tour to Play LIV Golf

Alex Miceli, a journalist and radio/TV personality who has been involved in golf for 26 years, was the founder of Morning Read and eventually sold it to Buffalo Groupe. He continues to contribute writing, podcasts and videos to the new Morning Read on


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