Questionable Saudi support isn’t the only problem facing LIV Golf


BEDMINSTER, NJ – At first glance, a LIV Golf event looks like a professional golf tournament.

The event at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, which began on Friday, features a number of the best players in the world.


The field has 11 major champions, five of whom have won at least one green jacket as a Masters champion. Thirteen of them have played in at least one Ryder Cup. Four of them once held the No. 1 ranking in the world.

It is more than representative. An argument, in fact, can be made that this field is more compelling than the one competing in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, the PGA Tour event taking place this week in Detroit (in case anyone noticed).

The Trump National course is a legit first-class track. It’s challenging and scenic. There are grandstands, though the crowds are sparse, and there are food and drink vendors.

A winner will be crowned on Sunday and will receive a trophy and a check.

Thus, there are important parts of a LIV Golf event that feel real.

Yet much of it seems wrong.

After all, what does it all mean?

Phil Mickelson plays his second shot on the 15th hole on day one of LIV Golf in Bedminster, NJ
Phil Mickelson plays his second shot on the 15th hole on day one of LIV Golf in Bedminster, NJ
Getty Images

The 48 participants have already received guaranteed money for just showing up to the first tee (some of them have paid sums that could feed a small national lobster and New York steaks for a few years), so there There’s no consequence as to where they end up at the end of the tournament.

There are no World Ranking Points at stake in LIV events, at least not yet. The tour applied for them, but isn’t holding its breath. So whatever happens when the final putt falls in central Jersey farmland on Sunday afternoon will mean nothing when it comes to any of these players qualifying for one of the championships. majors.

The tournaments are 54-hole events instead of the usual 72 on all other professional (non-senior) tours, with 48 players instead of the usual 156 or 144.

There is one shotgun start for each round. There is music blaring from the speakers in the stands and tee boxes. It’s a weird feeling.

It’s wrong.

LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman has a word with former President Donald Trump, left, Friday in Bedminster, NJ
Daniel William McKnight

Does it really matter that Henrik Stenson, the recently dismissed Ryder Cup captain who was competing in his first LIV event, and Patrick Reed each shot a 7-under 64 to share a two-stroke lead after the first round on Friday ?

Does anyone really care?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of Phachara Khongwatmai, who is in second place at 5 cents. No disrespect (to you or Khongwatmai), but you’ve never heard of Khongwatmai.

Does it matter that Phil Mickelson, the face of LIV Golf (other than CEO and commissioner Greg Norman), continues to struggle? He finished Friday 4 out of 75, making him a cumulative 24 over his seven LIV rounds.

Mickelson, who ended his day with a questionable hat-trick on his final hole, is paid a guaranteed $200 million to play on the Saudi-backed tour. So where exactly is the motivation to secure the additional $4 million paid out to the winner?

Are you excited that Brooks Koepka (3-under 68) edged out his younger brother, Chase (2-under 69), by a stroke?

Are you immersed and enthralled by LIV Golf’s team competition, with the 4 Aces team (featuring Reed, Dustin Johnson, Pat Perez and Talor Gooch) entering the second round on Saturday at 11 under with a slim lead of one blow on the Majesticks team (with Stenson, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sam Horsfield)?

Are you concerned that Team Niblick, Team Cleeks and Team Punch are wallowing in last place together 10 shots off the lead?

I did not mean it.

Sure, we’re cynical about it all, but how can you not be in the circus mood with former President Donald Trump (owner of the golf course) parading through the premises like a peacock and the music blaring everywhere while the players are playing?

In all honesty, LIV Golf has entertainment value. It’s a chance to see some of the biggest names in the game up close. The music is good.

Maybe this stuff will stick. Maybe one day what happens on the golf course at LIV events will matter and the results will have consequences.

It is believed that more top players are ready to take the free Saudi money once the PGA Tour playoff season is over and the Presidents Cup ends in the fall. There are still many legal dominoes to fall, starting with the status of the PGA Tour suspensions of its players who play at LIV Golf and the potential collusion over the handing over of world ranking points to LIV.

Maybe we’ll come to a point where it matters and it doesn’t feel so contrived, so fake.

That moment just doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.