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Under Pressure From LIV Golf, the PGA Tour Defends Its Perch

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CROMWELL, Conn. — For the last month, because the upstart, Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit has poached a number of the most generally known players from the established PGA Tour, there was speculation that eventually the rival organizations may need to learn to coexist.

But a passionate Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, didn’t sound conciliatory on Wednesday. Using forceful language in his first news conference since mid-March, Monahan continued to say the PGA Tour’s primacy, announced a considerable increase in future tour prize money and accused LIV Golf of attempting to “buy the game.”

“If that is an arms race, and if the one weapons listed below 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’s spending billions of dollars in an try to buy the sport of golf.

“We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi golf league shouldn’t be that. It’s an irrational threat, one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the sport.”

Monahan, who met with about 100 PGA Tour-affiliated players Tuesday, said he told the group that the tour “will ultimately come out of the present challenge stronger due to our loyalty and support of our players and fans.”

The LIV Golf series, nevertheless, didn’t let Monahan have the stage to himself Wednesday. About two minutes into Monahan’s news conference, LIV Golf announced that the four-time major champion Brooks Koepka had officially left the PGA Tour to affix the choice tour. LIV Golf also announced a majority of the sector for its first tournament in america, to start June 30 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, Ore.

There was also other news in the game. As expected, officials for next month’s British Open said they’d not bar players aligned with LIV Golf from the main tournament. Several of those golfers, like Koepka, have already qualified for the British Open due to their current world rankings or past major titles. That would change in the long run, but as was the case for last week’s U.S. Open outside Boston, British Open officials were unwilling to exclude players who had already met the stated criteria for eligibility at this yr’s event.

And on the player front, several PGA Tour players on the Travelers Championship privately grumbled about how Koepka, just every week ago, was openly supporting a show of solidarity from a majority of top-tier golfers who’ve remained loyal to the tour. When asked about Koepka’s defection Wednesday, Rory McIlroy, who’s second in the lads’s world golf rankings, said: “I’m surprised at quite a lot of these guys because they are saying one thing after which they do one other.”

He added: “But it surely’s pretty duplicitous on their part.”

Asked if he was talking about something Koepka said months ago or recently, McIlroy answered: “The entire way through, in private and non-private, all of it.”

Along with announcing the PGA Tour’s plans to boost the payouts at eight tour events next yr by $54 million, Monahan continued to pay tribute to his tour’s ethos as a meritocracy by which players are awarded prize money based on performance versus the LIV Golf series where several golfers have signed guaranteed contracts reportedly value a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of dollars. LIV Golf events also haven’t any cuts, meaning every player is assured a minimum of a six-figure payday.

A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series

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A recent series. The brand new Saudi-financed, controversy-trailed LIV Golf series held its first event in June. But what’s it? Who’s playing it? What’s all of the hubbub, and how will you watch it? Here’s what to know:

What’s LIV Golf? The series is an upstart skilled golf circuit bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Its organizers hope to position it as a player-power-focused alternative to the PGA Tour, which has been the very best level of professional golf for nearly a century.

Who’s playing it? The 48 players within the initial LIV Golf event weren’t exactly a who’s who of golf, and plenty of of the largest names in the game, akin to Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, have stayed away. But there have been big names and former major champions, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio García.

What’s attracting the players? The LIV Golf events are the richest tournaments in golf history. The primary tournament’s total purse was $25 million, and the winner’s share was $4 million. The last-place finisher at each event was guaranteed $120,000. That’s on top of the looks fees and nine-figure signing-on payouts some players have accepted.

How can I watch the brand new tour? Despite its high-profile golfers and its big-money backing, LIV Golf has not yet secured a broadcast rights agreement in america and will probably be shown on lesser-watched streaming services in much of the world. In america, this week’s tournament will probably be available via live streams on LIVGolf.com, YouTube and Facebook.

“In the event you return to the weather, the muse of this tour, the meritocracy of playing on the PGA Tour, how hard it’s to get out here, how hard it’s to get at the very best level of the sport,” Monahan said. “That’s ultimately going to be the element that may proceed to make this tour the best on the earth,” he added.

A memo to tour players released on Wednesday outlined significant purse increases at eight non-major tournaments, with the payouts to players jumping to about $20 million per event. The present median prize money total at a PGA Tour event is roughly $8.5 million.

Monahan said that the increased player revenue can be funded by augmented sponsor support and supplemented by the tour’s operating reserve. The tour can also be taking measures to attempt to reward top-ranked players with more opportunities to compete within the best-paying events, which might appear to be a direct response to the LIV Golf model of getting smaller tournament fields. The memo also detailed a recent, three-event international series in the autumn of next yr for the highest players with larger purses and events in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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