Could LIV Golf and the PGA Tour make peace? Don’t count on it
After months of vitriol, trolling and a two-sided rivalry brimming across men’s pro golf, a trend has started to form among figureheads in the game. Without taking too much liberty, we can boil it down to this question: Why can’t we all just get along?
Numerous players on each side have emphasized that hopefully there can be some sort of agreement between the feuding parties in the coming months or years.
Phil Mickelson, last week: “The best solution is for us to come together.”
Rory McIlroy, last week: “It’s up to the powers that be to try to come to some sort of — not resolution, I don’t think that’s the right word — but a strategy going forward so that the game can drive at the highest level.”
It’s natural that we’ve arrived here, now five or eight months into the LIV vs. PGA Tour debate, depending on which moment you recognize as its conception. One side is the status quo and the other is the upstart, brash tour of newness. Both are different and both want to win. Both are led by men who have peacocked in front of the mic, and who have no interest in standing down.
So, will we ever get along? It’s extremely unlikely in the short term. Don’t get your hopes up, folks.
For starters, Greg Norman began his quest by trying to play nicely, offering to meet with Jay Monahan to discuss how LIV Golf could work within the pro golf world. But Monahan has infamously stiff-armed those offers, and now Norman is over it. “We have no interest in sitting down with them, to be honest with you,” Norman recently told The Australian, “because our product is working.”
Norman’s product is working, but that is a rather generic term. It was always going to work to some extent. LIV Golf does not yet have a TV contract, which is a huge step in its theoretical popularity. How much is LIV cutting into the PGA Tour’s product? We’re seeing a bit of it on display this week at the Presidents Cup, where at least four LIV players are not included on the rosters in Charlotte. The PGA Tour has responded to LIV Golf in various ways, some as obvious as massive purse increases and guaranteed fields with the best players in the world. Those responses alone, and Monahan suspending players from the Tour, is reason enough to believe he’s content moving on.
Then he was asked about it Wednesday night on the set of Golf Channel’s Live From the Presidents Cup, which you can watch below.
“Listen, I’ve been pretty clear on this. I don’t see it happening,” Monahan said, reiterating a point he’s made at press conferences in the past. “When you look at where we are, there are words and actions. We are currently being — we’re currently in a lawsuit. So coming together and having conversations, to me, that card is off the table and has been for a long period of time.”
Monahan spent much of the on-air conversation talking about the future of the PGA Tour. He even admitted at times to not directly answering the line of questioning. But the end of that answer tells most of the story. LIV Golf is a defendant in a massive lawsuit being waged against the PGA Tour. Anything he says can be used by LIV in the court room, so he’ll speak carefully for many of the months ahead. The same goes for Norman and any LIV golfer. It creates an obvious willingness to talk about one’s own product and ignore thoughts about what is happening on the other side of the table. Thus, fans dreaming of a LIV Golf-PGA Tour match play event are foolish. So are hopes that LIV golfers might play in, say, the Genesis Invitational in February. It’s just not bound to happen.
Oddly, though, the lawsuit does represent some form of conversation. Throughout the next year, ‘Mickelson et. al vs. PGA Tour’ will progress slowly but surely. There will be deposition and discovery of documents and information shared about each side, which can often help push one side to the end of its theoretical rope. Could the lawsuit end in a settlement? It’s totally plausible, and would have to take place before the end of August, 2023, as the schedule currently demands. A settlement in the court room, however likely or unlikely, could be the grounds on which a resolution between the tours begins to take shape. Just don’t get anxious for one. We have many months of this civil war ahead of us.