CROMWELL, Conn. – For the last month, as the upstart, Saudi-backed LIV Golf Circuit poached some of the most widely known players from the established PGA Tour, there has been speculation that eventually rival organizations might coexist.
But a passionate Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, did not sound conciliatory on Wednesday. Using forceful language in his first news conference since mid-March, Monahan continued to assert the PGA Tour’s primacy, announced a substantial increase in future tour prize money and accused LIV Golf of trying to “buy the sport.”
“If this is an arms race, and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can’t compete,” Monahan told reporters on the eve of the Travelers Championship in central Connecticut. “The PGA Tour, an American institution, can’t compete with a foreign monarchy that spends billions of dollars on an attempt to buy the game of golf.
“We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi Golf League is not that. It’s an irrational threat, one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game. “
Monahan, who met with about 100 PGA Tour-affiliated players on Tuesday, said he told the group that the tour “will eventually come out of the current challenge because of our loyalty and support of our players and fans.”
The LIV Golf Series, however, did not let Monahan have the stage himself Wednesday. About two minutes into Monahan’s news conference, LIV Golf announced that four-time major champion Brooks Koepka had officially left to join the PGA Tour. LIV Golf also announced a majority of its field for the first tournament in the United States, starting June 30 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, Ore.
There was also other news in the sport. As expected, officials for next month’s British Open said they would not associate bar players with LIV Golf from the major tournament. Many of those golfers, like Koepka, are already qualified for the British Open because of their current world rankings or past major titles. That could change in the future, but as was the case for last week’s US Open outside Boston, British Open officials were unwilling to exclude players who had already met criteria specified at eligibility at this year’s event.
And on the player front, several PGA Tour players at the Travelers Championship privately grumbled about how Koepka, just a week ago, was openly supporting the solidarity of a majority of the top-tier golfers who have remained loyal to the tour. When asked about Koepka’s defection Wednesday, Rory McIlroy, who is second in the men’s world golf rankings, said: “I’m surprised at a lot of these guys because they say one thing and then they do another.”
He added: “But it’s pretty duplicitous on their part.”
Asked if he was talking about something Koepka said months ago or recently, McIlroy replied: “The whole way through, in public and private, all of it.”
In addition to announcing PGA Tour’s plans to boost payouts at eight tour events next year, Monahan continued to pay tribute to its tour’s ethos as a meritocracy in which players are awarded prize money based on performance as opposed to LIV Golf. Series where several golfers have signed guaranteed contracts reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars. LIV Golf events also have no cuts, meaning every player is guaranteed at least a six-figure payday.
A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series
A new series. The new Saudi-financed, controversy-trailed LIV Golf Series held its first event in June. But what is it? Who is playing it? What ‘s all the hubbub, and how can you watch it? Here’s what to know:
“If you go back to the elements, the foundation of this tour, the meritocracy of playing on the PGA Tour, how hard it is to get out here, how hard it is to get to the highest level of the game,” Monahan said. General Chat Chat Lounge “That is finally going to be the element that will make this tour the greatest in the world,” he added.
A memo to tour players released on Wednesday outlines significant purse increases at eight non-major tournaments, with the payouts jumping to about $ 20 million per event. The current median prize money total at a PGA Tour event is roughly $ 8.5 million.
Monahan said the increased player revenue would be funded by augmented sponsor support and supplemented by the tour’s operating reserve. The tour is also taking measures to reward top-ranked players with more opportunities to compete in the best-paying events, which would seem to be a direct response to the LIV golf model having smaller tournament fields. The memo also features a new, three-event international series in the fall, with major players and events in Europe, Asia and the Middle East for the following year.