Speaking ahead of this week’s PGA Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Jordan Spieth called LIV Golf a “catalyst” for the massive changes the Tour revealed Wednesday that include 12 elevated events with average purses of $20 million that every one of the PGA’s top players will participate in.
“When I tune into a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football,” PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy explained. “We’ve all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling.”
In addition to those 12 events, the Tour’s best players will hit the course in at least eight other events for a total of 20 tournaments with guaranteed top talent.
“Well, I think certainly it’s impossible to not think that that was a catalyst for continuing to want to make sure that…the players that we have on the PGA Tour now stay on the PGA Tour,” Spieth said. “Would this have gone that direction this soon? Maybe not, but to say that it wouldn’t have happened in general, I’m not sure. But I think that that certainly has been a catalyst for looking at the product as a whole and figuring out how to make it the best it can possibly be and maximize the strength of fields at the biggest events.”
Spieth was obviously not the only person to make the connection between the rise of LIV Golf and the PGA Tour’s drastic changes. “LIV Golf is clearly the best thing that’s ever happened to help the careers of professional golfers,” LIV Golf said in a statement to Golfweek.
Greg Norman, the CEO and face of the upstart series, also took a victory lap at the expense of the rival circuit by doing what most 67-year-olds do when they want to make a salient point and posting a meme on Instagram mocking PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.
As for Monahan, he was very blunt when asked if he would be lifting the suspensions of LIV defectors who may wish to return to the PGA Tour in the wake of all the changes and the influx of cash. “No,” he said. “As it relates to any of the scenarios for LIV players and coming back, I’ll remind you that we’re in a lawsuit. They’ve sued us. I think talking about any hypotheticals at this point doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Anything is possible and it’s hard to imagine Monahan not welcoming back top golfers like Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka should they bend the knee, but it doesn’t sound as if the road back to the PGA Tour will be a smooth one to those who’ve defected to LIV Golf.
“They’ve joined the LIV Golf Series and they’ve made that commitment. For most of them, they’ve made multi-year commitments,” Monahan said. “As I’ve been clear throughout, every player has a choice, and I respect their choice, but they’ve made it. We’ve made ours. We’re going to continue to focus on the things that we control and get stronger and stronger. I think they understand that.”
Expect more memes, possibly as soon as Monday.