4-time major winner Ernie Els renews assault against LIV: ‘Not proper golf’

Ernie Els

Ernie Els this week at the Regions Tradition tournament.

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Ernie Els says he’s never had a LIV Golf offer, though even if he had, the four-time major winner would have rejected it. 

He also says the play on the three-season-old league isn’t “proper golf.”

No, Els’ LIV stance has not softened.

His latest thoughts came in an interview this week with yellowhammernews.com, an outlet based out of Alabama, where Els and the PGA Tour Champions are playing the Regions Tradition, the circuit’s first major of the year — and you can read the complete story here. The views follow similar ones from Els over the past couple of years. 

In July of 2022, about a month after LIV played its first event, Els told GOLF’s Alan Bastable then that he wouldn’t have signed with the series had it been around during his prime — though he said he knew why players would join. 

“I understand that the guys go because of the money — it’s just a ridiculous amount — and you get to a certain point in your career, you have to consider it,” Els said. “But it’s not golf as we know it anymore. It’s a very different product.”

His hang-ups?

“If it was a 72-hole system, then you’d have to look at it,” Els told Bastable. “But it’s 54 holes, no cut, shotgun start. It feels like it’s silly season golf.”

In an interview with the Palm Beach Post in February of last year, Els also said his relationship had changed with Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen, fellow South Africans who had bolted the PGA Tour to join LIV, adding that the league has “gone about it the wrong way, and they’ve really upended a lot of good the game stands for.” But Els’ critiques haven’t been reserved for LIV alone.

Last June, the Tour agreed to a proposed funding deal with the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, LIV’s backer. Notably, it had been negotiated on the Tour side by just three people, including Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, and it was Monahan who drew Els’ ire. 

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“If this happened in my day, in my prime, there’s no way he’s around,” Els told Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig. “No way. And the board has to change. You do s*** like this. I’m sorry, it’s not right. Talk to us, tell us what you’re going to do, plan on negotiating. Don’t just go rogue as a member of the board and come back with a deal and think we’re all going to say yes? You’re affecting people’s lives. You’re affecting the professional game. It’s just so bad.”

In the Sports Illustrated story, Els wasn’t necessarily against the deal, saying the Tour should finalize the agreement because the Saudis could inject significant money into the Tour. Els maintained his thought in the story published by yellowhammernews.com, though the agreement notably is still being negotiated.

“This mess is not good for our sport,” he said.

He also revoiced his opinion on LIV in the article. 

“Listen, I know some of the Saudi guys; they genuinely love the game of golf,” Els said. “But the LIV current format is not proper golf. It wouldn’t have been for me, whatever stage of my career I was at.”

Els also said this in the yellowhammernews.com story:

“The fact remains, to my mind, the LIV golf format doesn’t work, not in the way they’re playing at the moment. Maybe there’s a place for team golf within the global schedule — maybe put some teams together, play a two-month happy season, so to speak. But the rest of the year, let’s play real golf.”

Editor’s note: To read the complete yellowhammernews.com story, please click here

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

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