Call me Grandpa ESP, but there is only one thing I hope the powers that run professional men’s golf four major tournaments say to defectors to the Saudi funded LIV tour. GET OFF OUR LAWN. The same goes for sports reporters, most notably ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, who must be getting paid under the table by Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud to promote the rogue tour.
On Wednesday’s edition of “Pardon the Interruption,” Wilbon was virtually salivating over the prospect an LIV player might win the Open Championship. He described the possibility of an LIV champion as disruptive. And argued the combination of guaranteed money and the ability to still play in the majors will be hard for many PGA and European (now DP) Tour players to resist. Minus eligibility to play in the majors, even Wilbon believes the number of defections will decline.
It was obvious participants in the LIV were not welcome at the Open Championship being played at St. Andrews, the birthplace of the game. Two time Open champion Greg Norman, who has been part of LIV since its inception and is tasked with recruiting players, was not invited to the past champions’ dinner. Loyal PGA and DP players used time at their pre-tournament press conferences to label the defectors as “ungrateful” and “disrepectful of the game’s history and traditions.” More meaningful as this week’s event is the 150 anniversary of the Open Championship.
There is not much the powers behind the four majors–the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship–can do about the LIV Tour’s deep pockets. But they do control who plays in their tournaments and how they qualify. Members of the St. Andrews Royal and Ancient board, the governing body for the Open Championship, signaled they are looking at changes to the qualifying criteria in order to exclude LIV participants.
That may not be necessary. Most of the top players qualify for the majors based on their world golf rankings, calculated on performance in authorized tour events. This week, the LIV tour applied to the ranking organization to award points for LIV events. If consideration of the LIV application was a jury trial, the panel should return its verdict in record time. Consider the following.
Comparing LIV events to those sponsored by the PGA and DP Tours is not a case of apples and oranges. It’s more like automobiles and televisions. The former consists of 48 players competing over 54 holes. To win a LIV event, a player need only out perform 47 competitors over three days. Most PGA and DP events require the winner to excel over four days (72 holes) and best 153 other challengers.
Think of it this way. What if someone created a breakaway professional baseball league with 10 teams that play seven-inning contests over a season consisting of fifty games. Then claimed the division leaders have qualified for the World Series playoffs. Even the justices on today’s Supreme Court would describe the situation as “separate and unequal.”
Professional golfers tend to be Republican and ideologically conservative. Which makes it all that more surprising the LIV contingent is pushing this perversion of “affirmative action.” So what if we are not competing at the same level or under the same rules. We deserve to be admitted to your institutions of higher golf. Not because we are historically disadvantaged or destitute. Quite the opposite.
And do not be surprised when they take the PGA/DP Tours and major tournament sponsors to court claiming their livelihoods have been harmed. One thing you must admit. These guys play with larger than regulation sized dimpled balls.
For what it’s worth.