No PGA Tour for LIV golfers, maybe a long way back

Sergio Garcia hits the ninth tee during the first round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf tournament in Bedminster, NJ on July 29, 2022.The Associated Press

Long before the PGA Tour’s postseason opener ended with a bogey winner in a three-hole playoff, the biggest drama was in the TPC Southwind clubhouse.

About a dozen players gathered around a screen to watch the outcome of the first of many on-course fights between the PGA Tour and Saudi-funded LIV Golf.

“I walked through the players’ lounge and I saw about 10 really nervous people walking around the room and I thought, ‘Well, something’s going on,’” Jon Rahm said.

He was curious enough to stay until the end.

This one went on tour. A federal judge denied three LIV golfers’ application to compete in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones were in Memphis, Tennessee, in case they got the green light, but they soon headed home.

When will they return?

That was one of the realities that came out of the ruling, even though it was an emergency hearing. More detailed arguments for a temporary injunction could come later. US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said her first available evidentiary hearing slot was Sept. 27-29.

That’s Presidents Cup week. So is the year.

The assumption is that all three players, possibly more if they choose not to give up the PGA Tour, want the freedom to play both tours. For now they are suspended, or banned, which is the word used in a February text exchange between Sergio Garcia and Greg Norman.

“Hello Shark! It’s official, the Tour has told our manager this week that whoever signs with the League, is banned from the Tour for life! I don’t know how we are going to get enough good players to join the League under these conditions. What do you think? “Garcia said in the text of him, now part of the court documents.

Norman responded: “They can’t ban you for a day let alone for life. It is a superficial threat. Ask them to put it in writing for you or any player. I bet not. Happy someone is talking to our legal team to better understand that they don’t have a chance to enforce.”

Judge Freeman ruled otherwise.

For some players, it can be uncomfortable to be in the same tournament as the 10 players who are suing the PGA Tour. This is starting to get personal. Until now, any hard feelings were due to someone wearing nails that were too long or being called “Brooksie.”

The notion of a lifetime ban is premature. Still, the reality is that LIV golfers might not be seen on the PGA Tour anytime soon, whether they like it or not.

“It doesn’t look like it,” Rahm said. “I’m sure the LIV side of things will still push hard to keep trying to change some things. But I also know that the lawyers on the PGA Tour side will continue to fight over how things are going right now. It’s not the last we’re going to hear from them.”

Out of court there are two issues yet to be determined.

Majors have not announced their eligibility criteria for next year. The US Open normally waits until the fall to go over any adjustments it wants to make. The USGA has not made any significant changes to its exemptions since it moved into the top 50 (from the top 20) in the world rankings in 2001 and eliminated the money lists on the PGA Tour and European Tour in 2012.

The Masters began using the top 50 in the world rankings in 1999. Masters champions currently have lifetime waivers, with six of them from 2010 now part of LIV Golf. There is no seating chart for the Masters Club dinner on Tuesday night for previous champions. This might be a good time to start a new tradition.

The British Open relies heavily on the world exemption ranking and an alternative list. The PGA Championship uses the PGA Tour money list and a general “wild card” category that seems to always catch the top 100 in the world. It just doesn’t say that in writing.

At this rate, the majors may not have to make many adjustments if they want to limit the number of LIV golfers.

LIV Golf no longer has anyone in the top 20 because Dustin Johnson dropped to No. 21 this week. His players don’t earn world ranking points, and his July 6 application to be included in the world ranking system probably won’t be decided until next year at the earliest. Historically, the process takes a year or more.

It’s a safe bet that, with few exceptions, the only players who will be exempt from every major are already exempt because they’ve won one in the last five years: Phil Mickelson, Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed (who has one). . remaining year).

That leads to another reality also revealed last week. The world rankings initiated the change to a modernized system that is reputed to be more accurate and in doing so removes minimum points for smaller courses and weak courses.

Reed played the Asian tour last week. He tied for 31st place and received 0.31 points. The winner earned just under 7.4 points, about half of what the Korn Ferry Tour winner received.

A year or so from now, good luck finding someone in the top 75 who isn’t a member of the PGA Tour.

Players are free to choose the path they want. If that means guaranteed money, more than they could reasonably have made on the PGA Tour, it’s hard to blame them.

But it could be a long way back, if that’s where they want to go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.