The ongoing brawl between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf has reached a point where it’s better for both sides to call a truce. Just stop throwing grenades at each other, which only makes them look like school kids in a cafeteria food fight.
The obvious narratives are players like Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed moving to LIV Golf International for more money and a less hectic schedule, or the Tour shunning its members for daring to accept the lucrative guaranteed money from the Saudi wealth fund is getting tedious and does nothing to advance the game.
In some cases, golfers are essentially independent contractors because the Tour has selectively given them permission to play in certain events, such as next week’s Scottish Open as part of the DP World Tour, with which the Tour has just formed a stronger alliance.
But when players joined the LIV, a controversial league because it’s funded by a country with a lot of human rights issues, they got fangs.
Commissioner Jay Monahan and Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chumbley treated players who defected as outcasts who foolishly called for the removal of LIV leader Greg Norman and Mickelson from the World Golf Hall of Fame.
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As disappointing as it was for the LIV defectors to make their decision, which came with a predictable chilly attitude, it’s still no use for Tour to keep them sidelined for an indefinite period, maybe years.
Seriously, how does the game evolve if there aren’t a dozen or so top 50 players in Tour tournaments?
Doesn’t it penalize the fans when a deserving LIV golfer fails to score points for their world golf ranking and can be kicked out of major tournaments?
How about a high-performing LIV member who deserves a captain’s choice? and does not qualify for the Ryder Cup?
Last week, Monahan publicly stated that the Tour could not win an “arms race” with LIV, which he considered an “irrational threat,” but had no problem hitting back, upping the ante. He announced that purses for eight Tour events would increase by $53.8 million, including the Players Championship increase from $20 million to $25 million.
The train was moving in that direction anyway, but Monahan sped up the process to protect his territory, making sure no other big name players would be tempted to leave again.
It’s no coincidence that when Monahan fired LIV volleys at the Travelers’ Championship, the rival league denounced Koepka, who had previously denounced players as “traitors” for leaving the Tour. before you change your mind and join LIV.
So it goes back and forth, and there seems to be no end to the bitingness.
To be fair, just as the Tour can antagonize the LIV in any way it chooses, Tour golfers are free to make choices for themselves and their families. Playing on the circuit, which offers more money and less time away from home, is understandably tempting, though it does mean accepting the criticism that comes with the decision.
The question is what happens next. If LIV only lasts a couple of years, will the Tour accept suspended players back? Does anyone think golf is better for the fans when the Tour and LIV are in an eternal cold war?
Sooner or later Turu and LIV would be better off laying down their swords than acting like bullies. That is, if they really care about the development of the game, and not just about their bank accounts.
Gene Frenette is a Florida Times-Union sportswriter, follow him on Twitter @genefrenette. You can contact him at: [email protected]; (904) 359-4540.
This article originally appeared on the Florida Times-Union website: LIV Golf and PGA Tour feud doesn’t help the game of golf