The men at the heart of the LIV-PGA Tour saga are just as sick of hearing about it as the rest of us. That’s not to say it’s not constantly on their minds.
“I wake up thinking about it, I go to bed thinking about it – that’s legitimately all I think about,” says Keith Mitchell, no. 54 in the world ranking. Mitchell, 30, considers himself firmly in the PGA Tour corner for the battle that has fractured the elite level of the men’s game and is in Scotland for this week’s Genesis Scottish Open before playing the Open Championship in St. Andrews.
LIV Golf held its second event of its inaugural season last week in Portland, Oregon, with Branden Grace winning the individual title and his $4 million grand prize. Grace is among LIV golfers who won a stay in UK court on Monday and will therefore compete in this week’s Genesis Scottish Open despite bans from the PGA and DP World Tour, who are co-hosting the event at Renaissance Golf Club this week.
On Tuesday, Billy Horschel spoke out passionately against LIV golfers who have taken the plunge – as many say they want to play fewer events and spend more time with family – but now want to continue their old tours to attempt to play anywhere. They want.
“I believe they’ve made their bed,” Horschel said. “They decided to go play on a tour, and they should go play on this tour. They shouldn’t come back here to play the DP World Tour or the PGA Tour. To say that they also wanted to support this tour or the DP or PGA Tour going ahead, while playing the LIV tour, that’s completely silly in my opinion… So it’s a shame these guys have made their bed and that’s what they want to do.
“At the same time, I’m one of over 200 PGA Tour members. I’m the PGA Tour. So when you shoot the PGA Tour, you shoot us.
Mitchell feels the same – while the pros initially seemed united in their openness and curiosity to see how LIV Golf would evolve, there is now a more noticeable divide between the best players in the world. Part of this is due to the expectation of legal action, but there is the realization that LIV’s 14-event schedule in 2023 and beyond could negatively impact PGA Tour funds. .
“These guys going there are taking money out of golf,” Mitchell says. “If they have 14 events, they are going to face the 14 weakest champs on the PGA Tour. Why would PGA Tour sponsors continue to funnel all that money if they had to have waste fields? I think it could hurt the sponsors, it could hurt the overall income of the game. More money goes to fewer players.
“The longer it drags on, the more people choose sides. Before all this happened, everyone kind of talked about it. What is the format? Who will go there? It was honestly a naive rumor that the guys were interested in. It piqued their curiosity. And now, the clearer it is, the more guys choose sides.
“The worst thing about it was that one of my biggest sponsors called me on the phone and said he heard I got $61 million. I asked him what was its source, and it was actually pretty good. Trustworthy sources say these complete fabrications. Exact number and years. I never even spoke to the guys.
Mitchell also shares Horschel’s frustration with the grumbling of some former PGA Tour players who hurled heavy criticism at Ponte Vedra upon their release. At the LIV Portland event, Patrick Reed accused the tour of not listening to its players, while Pat Perez went further and called commissioner Jay Monahan.
“He doesn’t listen to the players,” Perez said in Portland. “Somehow the (PGA Tour) keeps talking, oh yeah, we work for you, we work for the players, we work for the players. It’s the opposite. “We work for them. We have nothing to say.”
This kind of discussion has made its way into PGA Tour circles – so much so that Mitchell, who has a keen interest in business and financial matters, sought a conversation with a player director on the PGA Tour Board of Directors to see if Perez and Co.. are onto something. He left with another point of view.
“I asked him all these questions,” says Mitchell, “and he told me that he became a board member thinking the tour was resisting us. Two and a half years later, he left knowing that the tour was doing everything it could to grow the business and make us more money. I’m not at council meetings. None of these LIV guys attend board meetings. I can promise you they didn’t call the PGA Tour board.
“What really drives me crazy is that the whole narrative started with independent contractor stuff with the PGA Tour. They wanted to play wherever they wanted because they are independent contractors. But now these guys aren’t even close to that at LIV. They are employees. It’s silly. I agree that the PGA Tour may not be a perfect independent contractor model, but don’t act like that’s the reason you left, because you’re much more in employee mode now.
“The guys going there said, what if I get in a car accident? What if I lose my swing? They’ve never spoken that way before. LIV’s pitch is fear-based. Except for Pat Perez. And Pat Perez looked me in the eye Memorial week and said, ‘I can’t beat you 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds anymore.’ I want to go if they can cover all my expenses. He was right and he was honest. He’s the only person whose explanation I respect there right now.
The court proceedings this week are widely expected to be just the first in a long legal battle to come. LIV has assured its players that the Saudi-backed organization will cover all costs incurred in legal action against the respective tours, and all parties involved have brought in outside legal counsel to guide them through the process. process. The PGA Tour and LIV Golf believe the law is on their side – no matter who is right, the optics of the lawsuits clearly irritate those who have decided to stay on the PGA Tour.
“The guys at LIV talk about these things that co-exist – well, sure, they can co-exist. Play your events, but don’t try to play ours. You can’t pick the best games on the PGA Tour when we’re not not allowed to select your own. You just find the holes in the PGA Tour system, exploit them and act like the PGA Tour is the big bad devil that has done you so much harm. And it’s so wrong.
“If a guy sues the PGA Tour he sues all of us, including Tiger Woods, because they think they’ve been abused… so they can then play more events, what’s the reason they left? Go on.”