Just like most of its players, LIV Golf is already past its prime | Opinion

If the last 12 months of professional golf have been defined by the PGA Tour fending off an existential challenge from LIV Golf and its endless Saudi money, then the next 12 months will be a referendum on LIV itself and the product it releases for the world to see.

Judging by the opening of the LIV season in Mexico last weekend, the PGA Tour is nothing to worry about anymore. Out of the launch phase but still in its infancy, the reality of the LIV Golf is that it may have already reached its peak.

What, the duel between Charles Howell III and Peter Eilein didn’t capture your imagination? You were not alone. John Orand of the Sports Business Journal reported that LIV Golf’s Saturday debut rating on The CW Network was 0.2 in 26 markets measured. This is a very poor number, suggesting that LIV has attracted a smaller audience than CW staples such as The World’s Funniest Animals.

Can you really call it “Golf but Louder” when you need a stethoscope to determine if this tour has a pulse at all?

Over the weekend, when the PGA Tour had arguably the weakest field of the season at the Honda Classic, and when LIV was first widely aired on US television, it was the ultimate test to see if LIV could control the discourse and start cashing in on the star power he bought last year.

Not only did LIV seemingly fail to snatch any market share from the PGA Tour, its weekend broadcasts were a perfect representation of why it wasn’t going to.

After all, from the viewer’s point of view, LIV is all about finding a solution to a problem that never really existed.

From the constant thump-knock-knock of electronic dance music in the background, to the significant amount of time spent on the team aspect of LIV events, to the disorienting shotgun start format, it’s just not a good watch. Howell’s march to victory, which could have been a sweet story in itself, seemed almost secondary to some of the set pieces and jokes that the LIV played, such as broadcasting tweets praising the league and reigning British Open champion Cameron Smith. shoe beer.

Oh, and as far as team scores go, which only adds to the confusion in what should be a fairly simple competition, Bubba Watson said in an interview before the round that the goal was to “try to sell shirts at the end of the day” and then couldn’t remember the slogan of his Range Goats team.

A way to sell us a concept, Bubba.

It’s true that golf on TV could do with a tidy up and new ideas, but there’s a certain rhythm and rhythm on Sunday as the players make moves and the leaders try to hang on. The tension of trying to win a golf tournament is what sells the sport, not the bells and whistles that LIV has reduced to pure kitsch.

Put the Saudi sports tie aside. Even with the big names in the field like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Kopka, the LIV as a golf product simply doesn’t fit the bill. Even the sight of these guys playing in shorts instead of PGA Tour suits makes me feel frivolous.

If it’s just a weekend joke, why are we watching?

LIV’s ultimate legacy, aside from the mind-boggling amounts of money the Saudis are about to set on fire, is that he absolutely pushed the PGA Tour into action. The initial wave of LIV-paid players was worrisome enough for the PGA Tour to make some drastic changes to its schedule, increase wallets for its biggest events, and ensure that more money ends up in the pockets of top players.

And now that everyone has seen what the LIV is—and what it isn’t—the danger of major desertions appears to have passed. If Mito Pereira and Thomas Peters are the best that LIV can do right now, then calling him a rival is simply impossible. At best, this is a well-paid intermediate stage between the PGA Tour and adult tournaments.

A year ago, LIV made headlines for how it shook things up, how it strained relations between players, and how it tried (and failed) to shrug off the connection to Saudi Arabia’s terrible human rights record.

But after all that, now that it’s time to sink or swim on the golf course, what does LIV really offer other than useless, hard-to-find broadcasts and a bunch of consummate pros?

It turns out, not so much. LIV is less than a year old, but like most of his players, his best days may be behind him.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LIV Golf, weekend fun, past its heyday


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