Each week check out the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topics in sport, and join the conversation by tweeting us Tweet embed. This week we discuss LIV Golf players in the BMW PGA Championship, the new PGA Tour season, the Presidents Cup and more.
1. In the last chapter of the drama LIV Golf vs. John RamAnd the Billy Horschel And the Rory McIlroy They were among the PGA Tour players who talked about the LIV players competing in BMW PGA Championship, which knocked some DP World Tour players off the field and helped the LIV players earn valuable global ranking points. Does Horschel and Co. have the right to do so? To get mad at these LIV players?
Josh Sens, senior writer (Tweet embed): I understand why Horschel and Co. are upset. These are hot times. The LIV guys were technically within their rights to play. And did they honor the game in its purest form? barely. But it is also difficult to slander them without falling into some intellectual contradictions. On the emotional front, I likely saved outrage for what Sergio Garcia had done, took someone’s place, scored a poor result in the first round, and then pulled out without an immediate explanation. helpless.
Jack Hirsch, Assistant Editor (Tweet embed): I understand that Horschel spoke to several regular DP World Tour members before making his comments during the week. He definitely has a point and is qualified to talk about that as the defending champion. However, I was hoping to see more regular DP World Tour pros, that is, players who don’t play regularly on the PGA Tour, speaking. I also think the biggest issue is how the suspension of the LIV Pros on the Euro Tour has not yet been resolved. It’s hard to blame the LIV men for taking advantage of this situation because it was still available to them. Then again, as Bubba said last week about Augusta, why would they want to play in an event that they’re clearly undesirable for?
Josh Berhow, Managing Editor (Tweet embed): Sure, but at the same time, if you’re one of those LIV players and you get a spot on the field, it’s your right to be there. The LIV guys know they need the ranking points, so it only makes sense that they were there and earned a spot. But you can also be Jon Ram and Billy Horschel and tease them. Both things can be true. As for Sergio, what a bad WD (until his appearance at a college football game on Saturday), but I’m sure he didn’t lose his sleep because of it.
Sean Zack, Senior Editor (Tweet embed): I’m not sure Billy Horschel will become the majority leader, but his opinion is shared by many others. I’m more interested in what G-Mac said during the week: There should be a vote on membership if LIV players are to be allowed to compete. While it’s not really practical, it would definitely be great to see the results.
2. Because of constant fervor, The State of Golf has made headlines over the past year, but should the sport fear that constant sparring and punches will damage the game and turn off viewers who are weary and disinterested?
Sense: I think it cuts both ways. From a “any publicity is good publicity” perspective, this has attracted many new eyeballs, more so than any non-tiger-related story in memory. But there’s no doubt that it has also turned off a lot of old golf fans. Too bad professional golf is an important economic driver of golf. Because it is definitely not the best or most interesting part of the game. The best parts of the game are the places it takes you and the people you meet. The past year has confirmed that for me and so many golfers I know.
Hirsch: of course not. Viewers love rivalry and controversy. Think about the ratings some Heat-Pacers games got in the early 2010s because LeBron and Lance Stevenson had such a fierce rivalry. Now this is not the fabricated rivalry between Brooks and Bryson. This is a real controversy, which it seems fans can’t get enough of. We didn’t get it this week, but there’s no doubt it will happen soon enough that we see a LIV player in contention for a major, or potentially a major lead. Ratings will be through the roof.
Bierhau: It can work in both directions. I know people who hated watching golf 4-5 years ago when Tiger was struggling because the TV broadcast would have shown all of his shots no matter what, even if he was bound by a lost cut. This stopped them. But it also generated ratings because, well, it was Tiger. For every fan troubled by the constant bickering of golf – and there are many – there are many whose curiosity sparks the constant panic of the current state of the game. Part of me thinks the majors, if the LIV guys are still allowed to play (I think they will be), they’ll be a lot more fun now because the two leagues will be joining up together in those weeks for some interesting subplots.
Zack: There won’t be enough bickering to make this a problem. Because there will not be enough opportunities to bicker. This was a huge deal this week, but I don’t expect the on-site interviews to be as lively as they were this week. Players are about to settle into the silly season.
3. The 2022-23 PGA Tour season begins Thursday with the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California. As we turn the page for the next season, look at your crystal ball and predict how you see the LIV vs. PGA Tour playing next year?
Sense: Not much tug of war over talent. This fight seems to be over, at least for the biggest names. I expect smaller underground skirmishes on the amateur pipeline. But the most important fight (given that antitrust matters are unlikely to be settled next year) will be over OWGR and access to the big companies. If I had Fred Ridley on quick contact, I’d be willing to predict more.
Hirsch: Josh is right, it’s unlikely we’ll see many established pros who aren’t named Mito make the jump before the start of the next LIV season. I don’t see much change since the end of this season until the issue is finally settled. We’ll continue to see crap on both sides, especially in the bigger companies, which I think is unlikely to see LIV players banned from participating. The main difference (and we’ll get a taste of it this weekend) is seeing more of the PGA Tour and LIV on the same weekend. But even that won’t make big waves, unless LIV secures a TV deal.
Bierhau: A few players will jump – I think the last batch has had some kind of strong squad for a while – but I see LIV players allowed in the major leagues and ranking points awarded to the new league. It might even start to look more…normal?
Zack: LIV players who already qualify for Specializations will not be banned. However, the USGA and R&A will change the qualifying rules for next year’s tournaments in minor ways to make OWGR less necessary, making the LIV battle for OWGR points less necessary as well.
4. The Presidents Cup rosters have been set, with both teams making their captain’s picks last week. While both teams lost players to LIV Golf, US Liston paper, it still seems to have a huge advantage over International. Much has been said about how a new golf condition might damage the Ryder Cup, but could it do more damage to the Chiefs Cup, which was more unbalanced and has a much smaller history than the Ryder Cup?
Sense: It’s an even bigger threat to the Ryder Cup because the Ryder Cup has a lot to lose. Perhaps a set of new names is exactly what the internationals need? I’m getting here, but underdogs make better stories.
Hirsch: The Presidents Cup was just beginning to be competitive and the Internationals had plenty of stars before LIV took on a bunch of them. I think that puts the international team back several years, and thus the legitimacy of the Presidents Cup with him.
Bierhau: I think the Presidents Cup took a bigger hit, especially as it needed to ramp up and gain popularity and instead went from an American team that was led by Tiger Woods to two teams that both lost some firepower. You could also argue that it hurts the Ryder’s Cup more, since some golf enthusiasts may not have been interested in the lopsided Chiefs Cup to begin with. To roam further: The European Ryder Cup team needed fresh blood anyway, and while some of those veterans were finally likely to miss this team next year regardless, this would hasten the whole process. The Ryder Cup will be fine.
Zack: In a couple of weeks, we’ll have our answer. We might also get the kind of score that reminds us that the top 100 golfers are all capable of winning games full of theoretical randomness. What I’m saying is that Americans are not only guaranteed to beat a couple of the top 100 simply because they are often better during stroke play events. I expect it to be closer than everyone thinks.
5. Ricky Fowler recently changed his carry wagon and is now his coach, splitting from John Tillery, with whom he spent more than three years, and will instead work more with former coach Butch Harmon. Fowler has finished 133rd and 134th in the FedEx Cup standings over the past two years. With these two recent changes, will Fowler finish better or worse in the standings next season?
Sense: better. Butch Harmon has this effect on just about everyone.
Hirsch: better. He’s been one of the best players in the world for the better part of the last decade with Harmon in his corner. Watching the swing changes they made from his cool days to when he finished fifth in all of the 2014 majors was pretty cool. There is no reason to believe that he cannot recover some of this form.
Bierhau: He buys! He still wants it. I would love to see him. I love him and he is having his best season in a few years.
Zack: Certainly, count me. It’s not a high level intent to explain it.
6. Speaking of the new PGA Tour season about to begin, give us one bold prediction for the upcoming 2022-23 campaign.
Sense: Not only does Cameron Smith play in the Masters tournament – he wins.
Hirsch: Tiger Woods plays in a non-major.
Bierhau: Some LIV players are experiencing buyer’s remorse when 2023 Ryder Cup week comes around.
Zack: I think Jupiter’s remorse is against the rules of the LIV players, and it’s written into their contracts. My expectation is that the PIP will be taken care of.