Richemont, the multibillion-dollar Swiss luxury goods maker, became the first major golf sponsor to demand that PGA and DP World Tours talks with the Saudi-funded LIV Golf cease. civil war professional male game.
As chairman of the Sunshine Tour and overlord of the Alfred Dunhill Links, which takes place this week in St Andrews, Kingsbarnes and Carnoustie, Johann Rupert is a highly influential figure who has invested more than $100 million in the sport in nearly 40 years. association of the year.
And comments published by Rupert’s media team for Telegraph Sport highlight South Africa’s richest man’s concern, which is no doubt being replicated in other golf circles, about the devastating consequences of an even sharper split.
“This is the birthplace of golf and we are all here to celebrate golf,” said a tournament spokesperson from Old Course. “There needs to be an end to the hostilities that threaten the future of the game we all love. People need to talk to each other to find a solution.”
The prospects for talks seem more distant than ever since Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund announced last year its intention to set up a $2 billion war chest scheme. Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour, has consistently refused to negotiate, and recently Greg Norman, LIV’s chief executive, said he was no longer “interested” in a sit-down.
Meanwhile, Keith Pelley, chief executive of DP World Tour, is adamant that he will only deal with LIV if he is willing to act as a sponsor “within the sports ecosystem” rather than exist as a separate company. Monahan took a hard line, banning LIV golfers indefinitely and deeming them ineligible to play in the previous week’s Presidents’ Cup, even those who played for an international team, a fact believed to have angered Rupert.
Pelly must wait for a hearing in February until he can impose sanctions, and in the meantime, LIV golfers can play freely on European courses.
The $5 million tournament features 10 LIV-contracted players in which pros like Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick share the fairways with celebrities including Joe Root and Ronan Keating, and sponsors seem determined to make rebels more desirable. than they did at Wentworth earlier this month.
At the BMW PGA Championship, players such as Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, and Sergio Garcia were not invited to compete on Wednesdays and were not featured in promotional material. In contrast, press releases from Dunhill named Louis Ostwizen and Branden Grace as landmarks in the area. In addition, Patrick Reed and Peter Yulein received invitations from sponsors, although the former turned them down on Monday.
Insiders believe that Rupert wanted to emphasize his point of view with these invitations. At Wentworth, Pelly stated that there was “strong opposition” to the insurgents taking seats from fellow professionals, but since they had been vacated the Tour was powerless to act. However, in explaining that LIV golfers would not be put at a competitive disadvantage, it was clear that no matter how big their profile was, they would not be given preferential treatment.
“You can’t get much more ‘perks’ than an invite if you wouldn’t otherwise be on the pitch,” one Tour player told Telegraph Sport, noting that Reed had initially missed the application deadline. “Honestly, sponsors have invested money and can invite anyone. But there is a court case ahead, and while they may play on their eliminations until that is resolved, there is a perception among players who are loyal to the Tour that LIV players should not receive special invites.”
Meanwhile, LIV announced that their final event of the season has been shortened from four days to three days. The conclusion of the Trump Doral in Miami at the end of October is a team-wide affair that boasts a $50 million prize pool, of which $16 million will be split between the winning team of four.
Originally, only two finalists were to be featured on the final day, but with a media deal clearly imminent, it was decided that four teams would compete on Sunday, making it more representative of any announced TV partner. The first LIV events were broadcast on YouTube.