Rocco Mediate understands why players are leaving for LIV Golf. While self-deprecatingly noting it would never happen, the longtime pro even described a scenario where he himself would listen if the controversial, Saudi-backed league came calling.
But if you do take off for LIV, Mediate said, don’t expect to also be taken back by the PGA Tour.
“So if you were to have your — I don’t know what kind of tour you would call that tour — go ahead. Go ahead and have it,” Mediate said Thursday in an interview on the Starter with Taylor Zarzour show on SiriusXM radio. “Just don’t try and destroy what made you. That’s what pisses me off to no end.
“The PGA Tour made [LIV CEO] Greg Norman, plain and simple. If it wasn’t for the PGA Tour, you never heard of him. Now that’s no good? We’re trying again to destroy it? I don’t get it. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think I am.”
Mediate’s comments come in light of 11 LIV golfers filing an antitrust suit this week against the Tour, alleging it is acting unlawfully in the suspensions it has levied against its members who have left to play in the upstart league. The group of 11 seeks to have their suspensions overturned and their playing privileges reinstated, while a smaller group of three players — Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones — has petitioned the court to issue a temporary restraining order allowing their participation in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which begin next week.
All of which has frustrated the 59-year-old Mediate, who won six times on the PGA Tour and has picked up another four victories on the PGA Tour Champions.
“All of a sudden now they want to come back because they — they already knew the rules — they were taken off the FedEx Cup points, blah, blah, blah, all that stuff happened — now they don’t want that? Well, too bad,” Mediate said on the show. “I hope whoever’s doing this realizes how silly this is becoming. I mean if our Tour was no good and you left, what do you want to come back for? I don’t understand. … But the facts are facts. If you don’t want to play on our Tour, leave. You can go anytime you want; they’re not stopping them. You just can’t come back. And that’s how it should be.
“The Tour’s protecting what they built, what Mr. Palmer and Mr. Nicklaus started 50-some-odd years ago. Now it’s no good? I mean, it’s like Tiger said, and I said it weeks ago, a month or two ago. So let me get this straight, so I use Tiger and myself as an example because it’s funny; obviously, I’m not even in the same echelon as this man. So you have Tiger Woods, who’s at the top of the mountain, way up there, there’s nobody above him obviously. Then you have me, who’s somewhere down middle bottom somewhere in the mountain. The PGA Tour gave Tiger and myself and everybody between and below — if there’s people below — to become whatever it is we became, whatever that is, six-time winner, an 83-time winner, whatever that number is.
“And now that’s not good enough? Now it’s no good? So I don’t understand how it could just be garbage in two seconds because someone is showing you a whole bunch of money. I don’t get it.”
Mediate’s comments are in a similar vein to those Tour players who have weighed in over the lawsuits over the past few days. Over Twitter, Joel Dahmen tweeted twice on the subject, writing first, “It sounds like some people want their cake and to eat it to. Please stay away in your fantasy land. Sincerely, most tour players,” and then adding, “I don’t have an issue with anyone going to LIV. I have an issue with them wanting to come back and play. If the grass is so green, why do you want to comeback?”
At the Tour’s Wyndham Championship, defending champion Kevin Kisner spoke in the same fashion in a SiriusXM interview, though he revealed that he also still spent time last week with Hudson Swafford, both his longtime friend and a LIV golfer, adding “we have differences of opinions and that’s a lot about life.” Meanwhile, Davis Love III — whose roster as captain of this year’s U.S. Presidents Cup team could be affected by the LIV suspensions — spoke of a “nuclear option,” where current Tour players would boycott events should LIV players win their case.
“I think the undercurrent of guys are getting more and more fed up with it, that these guys are threatening our way of life, they’re trying to take money out of our pockets and cherrypick our best tournaments,” Love said.
On Sirius XM, Zarzour asked Mediate how he saw things shaking out, and he was bullish on the Tour. On the schedule, the hearing for the temporary restraining order will be next Tuesday, and the Tour’s playoffs begin next Thursday, while LIV does not play again until Labor Day weekend.
“What the guys out there are saying, it’s helping the game of golf, this LIV Tour, of course it’s not,” Mediate said on the show. “It has nothing to do with help. I mean, 54-hole events and shotgun starts isn’t tournament golf, it’s just not. So I think people will realize the PGA Tour is the only place on earth with competition like this; we have the best competition on the face of the earth, period; you can’t argue with it. If you don’t want that part anymore, that’s the thing — you can go, but people aren’t watching, and they’re probably not going to watch because it’s too much — and after they pulled this, whatever they call it, the lawsuit, now they’re really going to pull away, I think.
“The Tour is a pure competition, the place to hang out, it’s as pure as it gets. And it’s been that way for however many years, for a zillion years. That’s how I think it’s going to stay. People will realize what’s going on. And like I said, there’s nothing wrong with taking the money. Just tell me you’re taking the money and tell the PGA Tour, thank you for giving me a place to go, a place to become what I’ve become and get offered this ridiculous amount of money to go play golf. Just say thank you and leave, that’s all. It really isn’t that hard.
“If they called me and said we want a Champions Tour guy and we’re going to give you this, I would go, you know what, thank you for letting me even have this offer whether I take an offer or not — that’s never going to happen, but that’s just a point. Thank you, guys. I mean 27 years I’ve spent out there — the past 10 on the Champions Tour. Really? Really. I’ve never had a job. I’ve played golf my whole life professionally basically. So now it’s no good for me?”