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PGA Tour against LIV Golf: Daniel Summerhays, former regular on the circuit, intervenes

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What’s happening in professional golf these days troubles and saddens Utah native Daniel Summerhays, the former BYU golf All-American who earned nearly $9 million in PGA Tour earnings before to retire full-time in 2020.

“It hurts my heart to see all these great players going in different directions,” Summerhays told the Deseret News on Sunday, hours after fellow Utahn Tony Finau placed second behind Rory McIlroy at the RBC Canadian Open. , one of the most entertaining and star-studded PGA Tour events in recent memory.

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However, Summerhays says that in the long run he believes “competition can make a product better” and the PGA Tour will come out of LIV Golf’s “challenge” a better organization and a better tour because of it.

“While I don’t really like seeing some of the best players in the world spread across different venues, I do believe the PGA Tour will be a better product for players, fans and sponsors because of the (competition).” — Daniel Summerhays, former PGA Tour regular

“While I don’t really like seeing some of the best players in the world spread across different venues, I do believe that the PGA Tour will be a better product for players, fans and sponsors because of the (competition),” Summerhays said “I believe the competitive nature of the (new rivalry) will bring out the best, if that makes sense.”

Of course, Summerhays, 38, was referring to the controversy that has dominated professional golf in recent months: a rookie pro golf circuit funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and officially called the LIV Golf International Series has attracted several high-profile golfers. away from the PGA Tour, which has been the highest level of professional golf for nearly a century.

Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Pat Perez, Kevin Na, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Bryson DeChambeau have joined, or will soon join, among others. Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is also rumored to be considering it.

Johnson, 37, No. 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking, reportedly received $125 million from LIV to quit the PGA Tour and play eight events a year for the next four years. He is the highest ranked player to date to have made the trip.

Mickelson, although 51, would receive $200 million to take a break from LIV Golf, which is drawing widespread criticism due to the Saudi government’s widespread human rights abuses. Mickelson again defended his decision Monday at a US Open press conference in Brookline, Massachusetts.

“It allows me to have more balance in my life. It allows me to do things off the golf course that I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I prioritize those who are important to me, people who are important to me in the future. It allows me to have more time with them and to be more present.

Despite the split, the aforementioned stars will play the US Open this week at the Country Club near Boston, as the US Open is sponsored by the United States Golf Association and not the PGA Tour. It should be an interesting and tense encounter, especially after PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan appeared on CBS’s telecast of the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday and described the Saudi-funded league as a ” exhibition series” and accused it of spending billions on players without getting a return on its investment.

PGA Tour officials say LIV Golf is a “sportswashing” attempt by the Saudi government to whitewash its reputation through golf.

“I would ask any player who left, or any player who was considering leaving, ‘Have you ever had to apologize for being a PGA Tour member?'” Monahan, three days old, said. after suspending all 17 PGA Tour members who took part in the inaugural event won by Charl Schwartzel at the Centurion Club outside London. Schwartzel banked $4.75 million for the win.

Meanwhile, McIlroy and third-placed Justin Thomas also took shots at LIV Golf, and in particular commissioner Greg Norman, who has 20 PGA Tour wins.

“It’s a day I will remember for a long time,” McIlroy said. “Twenty-first PGA Tour victory, one more than anyone else (Norman). It gave me extra motivation today and I’m happy to do it.

Utah’s Finau, who won $948,000 for second place, was apparently not asked about LIV Golf by Toronto reporters after his best tournament of the 2021-22 season. Summerhays’ brother, Boyd, is Finau’s swing coach, but Daniel Summerhays said he has “no idea” what kind of stance Finau has taken on the new golf league.

“I haven’t spoken to him about it at all,” Daniel Summerhays said.

Finau recently told Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig that he was contacted by LIV Golf, roughly repeating what he told Golf Monthly last January.

“The competition will always be there at any level of any sport,” Finau told SI. “Now we see that in golf. Whether this is a good or a bad thing will depend on (personal) opinion. But having competition is a natural thing. It’s a positive thing. We talk about it a lot.

“It’s something that me and my team continue to look at and what it looks like for us,” Finau continued. “It’s a natural thing to have competition in the sport and that’s what we’re seeing now with LIV Golf.”

Summerhays, who became a volunteer assistant coach for BYU’s men’s golf team in January but isn’t sure if he’ll continue that role next year, said McIlroy and Thomas are understandably more unhappy with the new league. than him because he hasn’t been on tour for several years. Still, he sees a lot of problems with LIV Golf.

“When you have a set pitch every week, and there’s no play or play, that’s not great,” Summerhays said. “I mean, you had guys last week (in LIV) shooting almost 30 over par. And you don’t have to compete for your spot every week. I think the quality of golf could deteriorate.

Summerhays believes the PGA Tour will continue to be the premier golf tour in the world.

“The PGA Tour produces the best players in the world because it’s so competitive from week to week, and it’s a meritocracy, not a monopoly,” he said. “I think they have that advantage because they know the cream will actually rise on the PGA Tour, instead of maybe the LIV Tour, which is just kind of a little traveling bunch of exhibition games, ( which) is how Jay Monahan said it today.

Would Summerhays consider joining LIV Golf if it happened six years ago when he was at the height of his career on the tour?

“I would have to think about it,” he said. “Financially, it feels good to never have to worry about anything again, really, honestly, if you’ve played well and signed a guaranteed contract. But at the same time, there’s that bit of drive in you that says you don’t want it to be easy, necessarily.

Summerhays, who finished third in the PGA Championship and tied for eighth at the US Open in 2016, said he remains a big believer in the PGA Tour’s charitable efforts and hopes that never changes as scholarships and pitches are examined like never before.

“The PGA Tour does a lot in every community it visits,” he said. “I don’t know the exact numbers, but I read something a few years ago that the PGA Tour gave more to charity than all other professional sports combined. That’s a big deal.

“The tour exceeded $2 billion in charitable donations,” he continued. “I think sometimes people forget that it’s a non-profit and it does a lot of good. That’s kind of the point, and it’s an incredible model. So it would be hard to leave.

Professional golfers Daniel Summerhays and Tony Finau shake hands before playing a scramble Saturday, June 13, 2015 at Nibley Park Golf Course in Salt Lake City. Summerhays played with his son Jack and Finau played with Grace Summerhays, daughter of Boyd Summerhays.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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