‘Crazy amount of money’: Rookie pro reveals LIV Golf’s recruitment tactics

Pierceson Coody of the Texas Longhorns tees off his putt in his match against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the Division I Men's Golf Championship held at the Grayhawk Golf Club on JUNE 1, 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona

Pierceson Coody was a three-time All-American at the University of Texas.

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Pierceson Coody, grandson of Masters champion Charles Coody, prepared for his third Korn Ferry start as a professional this week the same way he had prepared for the first two: by spending 8 to 10 hours a day playing and practicing at the host site, in this case Falmouth (Maine) Country Club; bunking in a budget hotel; and dining at humble local establishments. (His culinary highlight in Falmouth: a lobster roll, which he devoured while overlooking the harbor.)

Call it no-frills mini-tour living, with one significant subplot: Coody recently passed on a golden opportunity to leave it all behind. 

About a month ago, Coody, who was then wrapping up his senior year at the University of Texas, turned down what he and his father Kyle described as a “multi-million-dollar” offer from the Saudi-financed LIV Golf Series. The deal would have made Pierceson, who earned $31,125 in his first two KFT starts, an instant millionaire, with a chance to get even richer in LIV’s huge-purse, no-cut events.

But Coody, 22, who earned his Korn Ferry membership by finishing first in the 2022 PGA University Series, said that while signing with LIV would have given him financial security, it also would have taken something away: his lifelong dream of playing on the PGA Tour.

“I might be sitting on my couch with millions in my bank account watching my friends play on the PGA Tour, and that would have been devastating,” Coody said.

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“I had people ask me in college if I had been contacted by the LIV tour and I said, ‘No, no, no,'” he added. “When it actually happened, it was easier to say no than I would have imagined.”

LIV’s recruitment of Coody underscores just how aggressively the upstart league — which this week announced its latest signees, Brooks Koepka and Abe Ancer — is courting players of all ages and abilities. LIV has stalwarts like Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, but it also has locked up less proven talents, like the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, 23-year-old James Piot.

Coody said he never talked directly to LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman or any other LIV officials during the negotiations; all communication was handled by Mike Chisum, the Coody brothers’ Plano, Texas-based agent, who passed along LIV’s offer to Kyle.

Chisum declined to be interviewed for this story. A LIV spokesperson also declined to comment other than to say, “We have been actively identifying next generation talent.”

Coody said the first call from LIV to Chisum came in early May as Coody and his college teammates were preparing to play in the NCAA Regionals after finishing third in the Big 12 tournament.

The LIV proposal included a multi-million dollar signing bonus in exchange for a two-year commitment, Coody said. Also included, Coody said, were all travel expenses to tournaments this year and next, plus guaranteed prize money regardless of where he finished in any event.

Coody said he was given 12 days to decide on the offer.

Norman also requested Coody’s cell-phone number so he could pitch Coody personally.

“I shut that down in a hurry,” said Kyle, who also played golf for the University of Texas before testing his game in the pro ranks.

Kyle said LIV officials later tried to sweeten the pot. If Pierceson agreed to sign with the league, Kyle said, LIV would also extend an offer, for a different amount, to Pierceson’s twin brother, Parker, who also was a University of Texas standout and now plays on the PGA Tour Canada.

Pierceson and Parker Coody of the Texas Longhorns Men's Golf Team pose with the East Lake Cup after the match on Day 3 of the 2019 East Lake Cup at East Lake Golf Club on October 30, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Pierceson, left, and Parker celebrating a win in 2019. getty images

“Coming in early May while they were getting ready for NCAA Regionals and trying to graduate, I thought it was a huge distraction,” Kyle said of LIV’s advances. “I told Pierceson if you play good golf, the money will take care of itself.

“It may sound strange to say, but turning down millions of dollars was the best thing he could do for his career.”

Pierceson said he and his father jotted down the pros and cons of the lucrative offer while making a final decision before the NCAA Championship, in late May, which Texas ended up winning.

“Seeing that kind of money was kind of a wow moment for me,” Pierceson said. “It was a crazy amount of money, but I love the American tour. I never saw myself as a LIV golfer, but a PGA Tour golfer.”

Pierceson said he took comfort from his close friends and North Texas role models, Will Zalatoris, Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth, all of whom have remained committed to the PGA Tour.

“I know all of those guys and if they believe in the PGA Tour and believe what it stands for and what they’re doing, then I think I made the right decision,” he said.

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Art Stricklin