Veteran Hunter Mahan has made over $30 million (and counting) while grinding for 19 years on the PGA Tour, yet in today’s golf landscape, players are cashing larger checks with the stroke of a pen.
“The players are the ones winning in this situation,” Mahan said, referring to the guaranteed signing bonuses for joining LIV Golf. “How can I sit there and tell them, no, you’re not allowed to take that.”
On this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar Podcast, the 42nd-highest earner in PGA Tour history explained who’s benefiting and who’s missing out from the tour divide. The emergence of a competing tour has split golf fans across the world.
Mahan said, “It’s hard to say what’s good for the game.”
It’s easier to decide if LIV is adding to or taking away from golf by breaking the question down further. Is it good for the players? Is it good for the fans? Is it good for the PGA of America or Saudi Public Investment Fund?
Mahan believes in the virtue of a golf “free agency.”
“I’m happy for the guys playing for the LIV tour. They make their own choices, and having choices is never a bad thing,” he said.
But these choices come with great sacrifices. The most recent LIV signee Henrik Stenson is no longer eligible to captain the European Ryder Cup team. Veteran Ian Poulter was booed on the first tee at St. Andrews last week. The PGA Tour has become off limits to LIV golfers.
“Is that legal?” Mahan questioned. “You can’t just tell someone they can’t do something when they’ve earned the right to do it.”
But they did. Mahan isn’t the only one who feels this way, as there’s an anti-competitive case building against the PGA Tour.
“This is what leverage looks like,” Mahan said. “It’s uncomfortable.”
One group of people are suffering from the PGA Tour’s leverage.
“I’m a little worried for the fans,” Mahan said. “Are we not going to see these players compete against each other?”
Subpar co-host Drew Stoltz mentioned that if majors are the only time fans will see a field of the world’s best, these events become extremely powerful, maybe too powerful. Mahan agreed with Stoltz that one tournament, the Masters, will hold more leverage than the rest.
“This is far from over,” Mahan said.
To hear his whole Subpar interview, check out the link below.