Hunter Mahan has questioned whether it’s legal to ban players from LIV Golf events, and thinks there’s a big court case ahead unless something changes.
The PGA Tour was quick to impose indefinite suspensions on players participating in LIV events, and there were whispers about bans from Majors, although the R&A denied it. But Mahan, a six-time PGA Tour winner, speaking to Golf.com’s Subpar podcast, wondered if banning LIV players from events would stand up in court.
“Is this legal,” asked Mahan. “How do you do that? How do you say because you’re not on the PGA Tour but you’re on the Asian Tour and you can play, you’re on the European Tour and you’ve earned the right to play , you are now part of the LIV Tour but you are qualified to play but we are not going to let you play?
“It’s a trial and I don’t think they’re going to win this. I’ve talked to quite a few people and everyone is like ‘you can’t do this, you can’t tell someone they can’t do something when they’ve earned the right to do it’. I don’t know what the answer is, I want to see the best in play but that’s also what leverage looks like, it’s a bit uncomfortable.
Henrik Stenson, Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell III became the latest players to join LIV last week, and all three are expected to take to the course at the third LIV Golf Series event, which kicks off later this week in New Jersey. LIV CEO Greg Norman revealed last week that his breakout streak is still attracting interest from the world’s best players in its inaugural season, and more big names are expected to join us ahead of the launch of the game. full league format in 2023.
“It’s the players who win in this situation,” Mahan told the Subpar podcast. “How can I sit there and tell them, no, you’re not allowed to take this. It looks like it’s the players who are going to benefit, but hopefully the game of golf will benefit as well. I’m a little worried for the fans. Aren’t we going to see these players compete?”
Mahan believes the PGA Tour needs to become more aggressive to combat the threat of LIV, especially when it comes to recruiting youngsters who have the potential to be the stars of the future. Some criticized LIV for chasing players seen as past their best and looking for a final payday, but Norman also targeted youngsters and newcomers, world No. 2 amateur Eugenio Chacarra reportedly signing a three-year contract last month.
It was reported in May that LIV had approached the world’s top six amateurs, including Pierceson Coody, who reportedly rejected an offer from LIV, James Piot, who reportedly took $1 million to sign up, Alex Fitzpatrick, who declined over $2 million and Arizona State senior David Puig, who attended the LIV opener at the Centurion, but as an amateur.
Mahan thinks the PGA Tour should act now to ensure Coody, who won the Live and Work in Maine Open on the Korn Ferry Tour last June, a future on the PGA Tour.
He said: “The PGA Tour is going to have to really work with the young college players and they’re going to have to start selling out, because LIV is coming. We’ve already seen that with Eugenio, number two amateur, they go after young people “James Piot, he’s on the LIV Tour, Chacarra is out there. They’re selling out to young players and the PGA Tour will have to do that.”
“Pierceson Coodey, he’s already won the Korn Ferry Tour. If I was the Tour, I’d probably talk to him and say, ‘You’re on the PGA Tour now. We want you on this Tour. You’re a badass, we want you here because you’re the future of golf. We don’t need to go through this whole process, we want you here right now”.
Mahan says he’s glad golfers have the right to choose where they play, but he got an ominous warning as he looked to the future.
“I’m happy for the guys who play on the LIV Tour,” he said, “and I’m happy for the PGA Tour players who make their own choices. Choices are usually never a bad thing. C is far from over.”