What readers think about golf’s polarizing Saudi-backed LIV golf series

What readers think about golf’s polarizing Saudi-backed LIV golf series

LIV Golf is a blessing. It is entertaining and players have a right to play anywhere they wish. It was a necessary challenger to a PGA Tour that has monopolized the game and is run by a dictator.

LIV Golf is nothing more than an exhibition with washed up players and those who will never succeed on the Tour, all of whom are looking for a money grab and no longer want to compete against the best. Not to mention it is being used by Saudi Arabia as a form of “sportswashing” its horrific human rights history.

We are three events into this new venture headed by Greg Norman and one thing we know: LIV Golf is as polarizing as anything we ever have seen in sports.

You either love it or hate it. There is no middle. Not unlike the direction this country has gone in the last decade. We have become two Americas: Right and Left. Red and Blue. Conspiracy theorists and realists.

Who’s next to jump?: Speculation centers on Cameron Smith, three former Masters champions jumping to LIV Golf; What about Rickie Fowler?

Exclusive Q&A: Greg Norman’s vision for LIV Golf, PGA Tour players creating ‘firestorm of controversy,’ and more

And LIV has seized the opportunity to jump into the political divide. Just look at its last event, held at Donald Trump’s club in Bedminster, NJ The week turned into a mini Republican Convention with Trump leading the circus and making the week all about him.

LIV appears to be here to stay — Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is not going bankrupt. They have five events remaining this year, culminating with a $50 million purse at Trump’s property in Doral in October.

Norman told The Palm Beach Post the field of 48 — which will be divided into 12 teams — is set for next year, when LIV rebrands itself as the LIV Golf League. LIV’s plan is to sell the teams with each being run as an independent business.

And more defections are coming. Rumors continue to swirl around Open champion Cameron Smith as well as Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott. Some, could join before the next LIV event to be played outside of Boston on Labor Day Weekend.

Following is a sampling of the reaction The Post has received from its coverage of this startup league (letters have been edited for content):

LIV not worthy of coverage

Samuel Ray Henry does not believe LIV is worthy of space in the sports pages and believes the league will meet its demise soon. He questioned The Post covering the LIV event outside of Portland, Ore., at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

Greg Norman, CEO of LIV golf, looks on from the first tee during the first round of the LIV tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, last week.

“Not sure why you put LIV golf on page one of your sports page,” he wrote. “I saw nothing or no one of interest in the article at Pumpkin Patch. Most sincere golf fans really could care less about LIV golf. They sold out traditional good golf competition for ‘filthy lucre.’ They don’t care what happens next to themselves or the PGA tour.

“I really cannot see any valid reason a pro golfer would defect to this league or any journalist writing about them or their tournaments. I see the whole LIV fizzling out in two years.”

Henry agrees with the decision made by Martin Slumbers, chief executive of R&A golf at St. Andrews, to shut out Norman from events leading up to the Open. Also, Slumbers’ opinion that LIV “is not the best long-term interests of the sport as a whole and is entirely driven by money. We believe it undermines the merit-based culture and the spirit of open competition that makes golf so special. ”

Kevin Biddle wants tougher questions asked of Norman like: “What business model allows you to spend over half a billion dollars to acquire employees? Where’s the return on investment? What his ideas are for coexisting with the Tour?”

Mike Baker would like to ask Norman: “After watching the Open and watching the golfers drive 6 or 7 par 4’s, do you think the LIV golf tour will finally step up and start limiting the golf ball? Obviously the PGA Tour does not have the backbone to do this.”

John McAuley of Jupiter predicted the lawsuit that was filed by players not allowed on the PGA Tour. Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau are among 11 LIV golfers suing to challenge their PGA Tour suspensions.

“Once you get the Justice Dept. involved, it doesn’t bode well,” he wrote. “But even if the courts say those players cannot be banned from PGA tournaments, those players will probably not be welcomed back by those who stayed with the PGA and be treated as outcasts.”

Robert Shea is not interested in reading anything about LIV. Instead, he wants more coverage of the Honda Classic, which is held in February at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

“The story should support the local PGA tournament and not the dirty, soulless money grab,” he wrote.

Former President Donald Trump interacts with the crowd last week during the LIV golf tournament at his course in Bedminster, NJ

Former President Donald Trump interacts with the crowd last week during the LIV golf tournament at his course in Bedminster, NJ

Fans will benefit from LIV

Meanwhile, Sam Chester of Naples does not agree with the term “money grab” to describe players who defected to LIV.

“They are not employees of the Tour and as independent contractors made their choice. If you were offered a position as press director for LIV for $4,000,000 per year plus all expenses paid, you may likely accept it in a heartbeat. Would that be a ‘ money-grab’ on your part?… Golf is a game, a sport, not a life or death matter. There is plenty of $ for everyone and the millions of golf fans, like myself, can only benefit from the increased competitions .”

Peter Degen believes “the PGA and LPGA will evaporate. Money will rule and the players will all grab the Saudi money.” He believes the rise of LIV is related to “the disintegration of the United States as the eminent leader of the World.”

Mike Boyd is not happy that players like Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy have spoken out against LIV Golf. Thomas said any lawsuit by LIV players against the PGA Tour is an attack against every player currently on the Tour.

“Why can’t players play on multiple tours? Does anyone question when JT backs out of a tournament or Rory takes a month off from the tour?” Boyd wrote. “I mean if the PGA and players are going to stick their chests out let’s hold these players accountable and demand they play ALL the PGA events and if that is too hard then maybe the PGA should have less events!! Oh yeah that will never happen because it will cost them way too much money!!!”

Frederick Moore agrees with Trump, who is urging Tour players to defect and predicts a merger is coming between LIV and the PGA Tour.

“Trump is spot on when he said that there will be an eventual merger. LIV recently added Howell, Kokrak and announcer D. Feherty, who has a huge golf following. Even Henrik Stenson gave up his Ryder Cup captaincy to join! As Trump said , it’s only a matter of time before the merger.”

Gary Weiss believes every golfer has a right to play anywhere they want, but they should accept consequences.

“I harbor no ill will for those struggling professionals who, otherwise, are not capable of earning a living on any of the ‘conventional’ tours,” he wrote. “And, for those who are already multi-millionaires and know that they can no longer compete they, too, have a right to sell their souls to the devil for some hefty ‘appearance fees’ and the hope that they can beat some amateur ‘ wannabe’ and pick up a $4,000,000 check or two.

“But, in return, they must all be stripped of PGA/USGA/DP memberships. Forfeit any pension money accumulated. … They will have chosen their lot in life and many, if not all, will benefit handsomely. I wish them nothing but heartache as a result of their decisions, I hope the checks bounce … though unlikely.”

Tom D’Angelo is a journalist at the Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at tdangelo@pbpost.com.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: LIV Golf: Readers love, hate polarizing series backed by Saudi Arabia

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