Speaking with The Times ahead of the start of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in upstate New York on Thursday, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh ripped into LIV Golf as 17 of the upstart circuit’s players, including Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann, prepare to play in the tournament.
Waugh, who previously referred to LIV Golf as “flawed,” was once again critical of Greg Norman’s rival league, which spent in excess of $750 million in its inaugural 2022 season and has largely failed to gain a major audience despite finally landing a TV deal after months of trying.
“I don’t think people really care about it. And I don’t see how it’s a survivable business model,” Waugh said. “They can fund it for as long as they want to, but no matter how much money you have, at some point, burning it doesn’t feel very good. I don’t see they are accomplishing much. It seems logical to me, then, that you would work towards some sort of agreement. I hope the game comes back together in some form.”
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While Waugh said he was looking forward to “civility” at the PGA Championship similar to the atmosphere at the Masters when 18 LIV golfers teed off at Augusta, he also dumped on the new league and indicated he believes its players should continue to be denied points in the Official World Golf Ranking. As a member of the OWGR’s governing board, Waugh has the power to make that happen.
“There are certain parts of their structure that can be solved by math, but there may be some pretty fundamental things that are harder,” Waugh told The Times. “There’s the potential conflict with the team aspect and then access — how do you get relegated and promoted? They have made a bad assumption that this will be a quick process. It never has been. Every application has taken a year-plus as far as I’m aware.”
In a statement to Sports Illustrated, an LIV Golf spokesman said the Saudi-backed league is waiting on the OWGR to continue the approval process. “At the end of April, we received a letter from OWGR which asked for us to further clarify some points that we have already addressed, as well as some additional queries they have pertaining to the financials of our business model,’’ he said. “We have asked them to clarify why they need that information and they haven’t responded that email or our queries. We have also been categorial that we are willing to make adjustments, but to this point, they have not provided any direction. The last letter we received states they are still in ‘further deliberations’ regarding our application, with no clear path forward.”
When the PGA Championship tees off on Thursday, Masters winner Jon Rahm will be looking for his second straight major championship. Waugh will probably be rooting for him to get it if it prevents an LIV player from winning.