Greg Norman wanted to share some “interesting facts” with you. His tournament this week in Portland, the CEO of LIV Golf wrote on Twitter earlier this week, had 21 players in the world’s top 100. And 17 of the last 50 big winners. And 10 of the last 24 big winners. And the competition had less. It’s here we’ll note that he probably hasn’t run through the data on his home ground, the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic field and the DP World Tour’s Irish Open itself, but you never know. We will continue.
Anyway, one of Norman’s new employees summed it up pretty quickly.
“And how many big winners do you have here compared to John Deere?” said Pat Perez. “It’s not even close. The Tour wants to keep talking about ground strength and all that kind of stuff; the strength of the field is there. So whether everyone wants to talk about it or not, that’s how it is.
“Facts are facts.”
The facts are the facts. Dashboard. You can’t argue the truth, and we can handle the truth. But facts, you see, can be selective. They can shape a story. And Norman and his friends conveniently forgot to tell you everything.
It was the week, right, in this PGA Tour-Euro Tour battle royale v. LIV? Not only was the establishment going up against the upstart on American soil for the first time, it was doing so with one of its weakest statistically ranked domains in the JDC, as Norman wrote and Perez went on to say. boasted. If your golf news has escalated over the past couple days, more urgent, here’s your reason. Golf fireworks, yes, 4th of July weekend.
And my friend texted me.
He often does this on the weekends when the golf is on. He enjoys a cup in the morning with the coin across the pond, it’s in the background in the afternoon. But it wasn’t about who I like this week in Illinois, Ireland or Oregon. (These texts were earlier.)
“A big reason I love watching these guys play at John Deere this week is because a win for them is career changing!
“Watching a guy have to hold (or take) the lead in the final round is a lot of drama.”
I texted that he had formed quite the hold. Really, the John Deere?
“It’s true! Birdie or par on 18 or whatever to win is HUGE. Difference between exposure and actual competition.
The facts are the facts.
And here they are. Yes, the winner of the Deere gets the two-year exemption from the Tour. And the money; $1.28 million. And the master’s berth. A place in the PGA Championship and a place in the Open Championship in two weeks as well. And as the weakest field implies, each player could use each of these advantages. For a few, there’s a very real chance they won’t be golfing on yours or my friend’s TV this time next year without them; only leader JT Poston has won in the past three years. Drama? Only if you love the life-changing genre.
Which brings us to the Oregon scene. I’ve written in this space before that I see potential in the team aspect of LIV, and you might see that play out on Saturday. Players who would normally be out of it weren’t, fighting for their Fireballs or Stingers or Fire Stingers or whatever. Money, lots of money, was at stake, and Branden Grace, the winner, won the most. And you might like that, and the television cameras were doing a good job of showing that a lot of people were in Portland.
But the do is – there is still this word – all 48 will always be paid, and in most cases, well paid; remember, there is no cut, and the scholarships are ridiculous. Or, more precisely, they will be paid more. Don’t forget that stars signed for big bucks for pulling off any stunt. Dan Rapaport captured this theme well in an excellent article for Golf Digest, where he wrote that he complimented a player on a shot on the range, only to have the player snap, “Yeah, that’ll be fine.
“But, who cares if it’s not?”
Funny, yes, but not exactly something you’d use in an ad. Although it may be. Zach Johnson’s view below is heavily tainted. He’s pro-Tour, pro-John Deere, pro-bottom up now he’s here. (Sorry, Drake.) He too was once a no-name. And turned the Deere into a household. But if you’re looking for someone to tell you that even one of the Tour’s lesser-known events can stay with LIV, this is your man.
“These kids are really, really good,” Johnson said Saturday. “I don’t know how else to explain it. I know we don’t have the best in any index or world rankings or anything, but the guys here are really, really good and they’re hungry.
“So the quality of golf is going to be spectacular. Again, I can’t stress this enough, the guys you see here who win will be – they will become the next anybody. That’s what we have here.
“I think it’s – we have that every week. This is the difficulty. It’s impressive. That’s why the PGA Tour is the best.
We will conclude this honestly. And on a good note. Let’s go back to the facts one last time.
You or my friend don’t have to choose Sunday.
John Deere plays 72 holes and still has one round. LIV, as the Roman numerals tell you, plays 54 and is done for the week.
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