Under pressure from LIV Golf, the PGA Tour defends its crew

CROMWELL, Con. – Over the past month, when Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf involvement has gained some of the most prominent players from the established PGA Tour, there has been speculation that eventually competing organizations may have to learn to coexist. .

But the passionate Jay Monahan, PGA Tour commissioner, did not sound conciliatory on Wednesday. Using force in his first press conference since mid-March, Monaghan went on to claim the primacy of the PGA Tour, announcing a substantial increase in the prize money for the next tour and accusing LIV Golf of trying to “buy the sport”.

“If this is an arms race and if the only weapon here is dollar bills, the PGA tour will not be able to compete,” Monahan told reporters on the eve of the Connecticut Traveler Championship. “The PGA Tour, an American institute, can not compete with a foreign monarch that spends billions of dollars trying to buy a game of golf.

“We welcome good, healthy competition. LIV Saudi Golf League This is not it. “This is an irrational threat that does not care about the return on investment or the real growth of the game.”

Monahan, who met with about 100 players related to the PGA Tour on Tuesday, said he told the group that the tour “will eventually come out stronger from the current challenge because of the loyalty and support of our players and fans”.

However, the LIV Golf series did not give Monahan a scene on Wednesday. About two minutes after the Montana press conference, LIV Golf announced that four-time champion Brooks Koepka had officially left the PGA Tour to join the Alternative Tour. LIV Golf has also announced most of the pitch for its first tournament in the United States, which starts June 30 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Ore.

There were other news in the sport as well. As expected, next month British Open officials said they would not ban LIV Golf-agreed players from the main tournament. Several golfers, such as Koepka, have already qualified for the British Open because of their current world rankings or past major titles. That may change in the future, but as was the case with last week’s US Open outside Boston, British Open officials were reluctant to exclude players who already met the eligibility criteria for this year’s event.

And on the player front, at the Travelers’ Championship, several PGA Tour players personally complained about how they supported Koepka, just a week ago, in showing solidarity with most of the top golfers who remained loyal to the tour. Asked about Koepka’s escape on Wednesday, Rory McIlroy, who is second in the men’s golf world rankings, said: “I’m surprised by most of these guys because they say one thing and then do another.”

He added: “But this is quite a double on their part.”

Asked if he was talking about something Koepka said a few months ago or recently, McIlroy replied: “All the way, public and private, that’s all.”

In addition to announcing reimbursement for plans to increase its PGA Tour plans for the eight-year event next year by $ 54 million, Monaghan continued to respect the ethos of its tour as a meritocracy in which players are awarded a prize based on performance, unlike LIV Golf. A series in which several golfers have signed guaranteed contracts reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars. LIV Golf events also have no reductions, meaning all players are guaranteed at least a six-figure payout.

“If you go back to the elements, the basis of this tour, the merit of playing in the PGA tour, how difficult it is to get here, how difficult it is to get to the top of the game,” Monahan said. . “Ultimately, this will be the element that will continue this tour, the biggest in the world,” he added.

The tour players’ memorandum, released on Wednesday, reflects a significant increase in eight non-major tournaments, with player salaries reaching around $ 20 million per event. The current average prize money for the PGA Tour event is approximately $ 8.5 million.

Monahan said the player’s increased revenue will be funded by increased sponsor support and added to the tour’s operating reserve. The tour also takes steps to reward rated players with more opportunities to compete in the highest paid events, which seems to be a direct response to the existence of small tournament pitches on the LIV Golf model. The memorandum also describes in detail the new, international series of three events for next year’s top players who have bigger bags and events in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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