‘It’s got rid of the old boys who were hanging on’: Pro finds *positive* in LIV
Russell Knox found a silver lining, though it was a bit dark.
This week — and the past weeks, and likely many future weeks — the talk away from the golf has been about the other golf. Billy Horschel spoke nearly 900 words after his first question on the subject during his press conference ahead of the Scottish Open, then added nearly 1,000 more before he was done. Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm were asked for their thoughts. Collin Morikawa shared his, then added reporters should also look for other stories.
The topic, of course, was LIV Golf, and by now you’ve heard at least something about the controversial, Saudi-backed series that has attracted PGA Tour and DP World Tour pros for big, guaranteed bucks, played two events and turned men’s pro golf more or less upside down. But while you’ve possibly thought about Knox’s spin on it all, you’ve maybe not heard another pro come out in such terms.
Speaking to the Scotsman this week at the Renaissance Club — and you should read the entire story here — the 37-year-old from Scotland believed LIV Golf could be doing the European Ryder Cup team a favor.
“It’s got rid of all the old boys who were hanging on for dear life, hasn’t it,” Knox said.
“They’re gone now. So good, there’ll be a lot of great young players coming in, and it might be the best thing that’s ever happened for us.”
Say what you will, but that’s strong. Though Knox did not name names in the interview, LIV Golf has attracted several former European Ryder Cup players over the age of 35 — Ian Poulter (46), Sergio Garcia (42), Lee Westwood (49), Paul Casey (44), Graeme McDowell (42), Martin Kaymer (37) and Bernd Wiesberger (36). Notably, at the last Ryder Cup, last September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Poulter, Garcia, Westwood, Casey and Wiesberger all played, while the winning American team had no players over 40 and just four over 30.
At the moment, the Ryder Cup question is muddy at best. LIV players have been suspended by both the PGA and DP World tours, blocking a prerequisite to Ryder Cup selection, though just last week, Garcia, Westwood and Kaymer were hopeful of a resolution.
Still, the thought of the next generation of European Ryder Cup players had Knox interested. Last year, only Viktor Hovland, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton were under 30, though younger players, including twins Rasmus and Nicolai Hojgaard and Robert MacIntyre could be on the cusp.
“I mean, it is what it is, they’ve gone from the money, and can you blame them for that, not really,” Knox said of the players who have left for LIV. “Is it good for golf and something I’d do? No. But I wasn’t offered 150 million. It leaves a weird feeling for me, I just don’t like it. I’m just not a fan.
“If they’re gone, they’re gone, in my opinion. Never to be seen again. You won’t be missed.”