LIV/PGA Tour confusion, Tiger Woods’ tournament, Min Woo Lee | Monday Finish

Cameron Smith and Min Woo Lee had decidedly different weeks.

Cameron Smith and Min Woo Lee had decidedly different weeks.

Getty Images

Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where every Monday is Cyber Monday and this week’s column is 50% off! Let’s get to it.


Who won the week? Let’s count ’em down.

5. Having your cake, eating it too

It was a big week for LIV golfers, both past and present. (It was a big week for potential future LIV golfers, too, but we’ll get to that.)

While LIV golfers are mostly barred from playing the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, there are still ways in which they can play occasional DP World Tour events — including via sponsor exemption.

Over the weekend there were two DP World Tour events, one in South Africa and another in Australia. That meant three South African LIV golfers — Dean Burmester, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel, all of Stinger GC — received sponsor invites to the Joburg Open. Down Under, Cameron Smith and Jediah Morgan played the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship as past champions while fellow Aussie LIV-ers Marc Leishman and Wade Ormsby received sponsor exemptions. So did the Chilean duo of Joaquin Niemann and Mito Pereira, who are teammates on LIV.

So how’d they do? Like non-LIV golfers, their performances spanned the full range. Smith, the hometown headliner, had an off-week and struggled to 73-78 en route to a jarring 148th-place finish and missed cut in his title defense. Niemann, on the other hand, made a hole-in-one and finished fifth, while Leishman finished third. In South Africa, Burmester bettered even those results by winning the whole thing — earning a coveted Open Championship berth in the process.

Another LIV player, Bernd Wiesberger, was reinstated on the DP World Tour after paying the fines and serving the penalties assigned to him. It’s not clear whether any LIV teams would have had interest in signing Wiesberger, who was a free agent after finishing No. 41 on the league’s points list this year. But it is clear that he cashed in in the meantime, pocketing more than $4 million during his LIV stint. Sure, some of that $4 million went to fines and fees — as much as $1.65 million, per our Sean Zak‘s arithmetic — but I’m guessing if you held Wiesberger by his ankles there’d still be a little loose change left in those pockets.

Finally there’s the curious case of Laurie Canter, who only filled in on this year’s LIV schedule and, after serving his own LIV suspension, actually found himself able to maintain both memberships concurrently. Because Canter possesses partial DP World Tour status, he doesn’t get into some of the bigger events. And if he’s not in those fields, he’s free to play on another tour, in this case LIV. He didn’t break any records this week, finishing T54 in Australia. But the fact that he earned DP World Tour points is significant because of what it represents: even in these strange, divided times there are still ways for LIV guys to have it both ways.

(We’ll get to the flip side a little later.)

4. Next Paul Up

There’s no indication from NBC that this week’s elevation of Paul McGinley to lead analyst is a permanent thing. In fact, NBC told our James Colgan that no permanent decision has been made. But this isn’t some random fall event tucked away on Golf Channel for the diehards among you. This is Tiger Woods‘ event and it’s Tiger Woods’ comeback and, other than Tiger Woods, every player in the field is inside the top 40 in the world. As far as limited-field winter golf goes, this is big-time! They didn’t just pick McGinley’s name out of a hat.

The man he’s replacing, Paul Azinger, made it clear last week that he was surprised and disappointed to learn his five-year stint at NBC had come to a close following the Ryder Cup. At the moment there seems, from the outside, nobody better positioned to assume that role than McGinley. No pressure…

3. Aditi

Aditi Ashok was already a proven talent when she captivated Olympic viewers tuning into the golf competition in Tokyo in 2021. But it wasn’t clear whether that fourth-place finish would prove the peak of her career or the start of something big. On Sunday, Ashok captured her second Ladies European Tour title of the year with a victory at the Spanish Open.

She backed up those two victories with a handful of other top showings, too, starting the season with 1-3-2 finishes on the LET. Just a couple months later she lost in a playoff in the JM Eagle LA Championship, an LPGA Tour event, kicking off a string of five top-eight finishes in 10 LPGA Tour starts. While her form tailed off later in the year, she saved her best for last.

But Ashok wasn’t the only rising star to win in Spain — Thailand’s Trichat Cheenglab claimed the LET’s Race to Costa del Sol title as well as its Rookie of the Year honors, suggesting there’s plenty more to come.

The LET finale was played in the context of ongoing chatter that it plans to merge with the LPGA Tour. The LET’s board went so far as to meet on the subject last week but ultimately postponed the vote, given the gravity of the decision. And on and on it goes.

33+ Golf Cyber Monday deals: golf bags, balls, shoes, pants, club sets and more
By: Marley Sims

2. Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods’ tournament, Tiger Woods’ bank account

Tiger Woods only played two events in the 2022-23 PGA Tour season and only finished one of ’em — the Genesis Invitational. But he still managed to squeak out second place in the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program (PIP) results, a complex system with the simple goal of identifying and rewarding the Tour’s most valuable members. Woods earned $10 million for his efforts, less than the $15 million that Rory McIlroy made for finishing atop the list but a tidy sum nonetheless.

Woods’ tournament is the week’s obvious winner because Woods is playing in it, which means built-in intrigue and built-in eyeballs. Woods hasn’t played since the 2023 Masters, when he pulled out following play on Saturday and later underwent subtalar fusion surgery. Woods truly is the cat with nine comebacks, and while it’s tough to know exactly which number this is, we promised in 2019 to never count him out again. Let’s see how he looks, sounds, walks and plays this week and then figure out what’s next.

1. Min Woo Lee

Oh, wow. If the hype train for Min Woo Lee was already cruising full steam ahead, the 25-year-old Aussie blew its brakes off with a rousing victory at the Australian PGA Championship.

With the win, Lee is up to No. 38 in the world and just capped off a season that included a T6 at the Players, a T5 at the U.S. Open, wins on the Asian and DP World Tours and an addiction to the big moment.

Let the man cook.


Not their week.

PGA Tour/LIV double-dippers

Okay, we talked above about the guys who have finessed some sort of LIV/DP World Tour double-life. But that was the rosy side of things; in reality the world of LIV/PGA Tour/DP World Tour coexistence remains as messy as ever. Rumors swirl. Punishments loom. Uncertainty reigns.

It was a disappointing week for the aforementioned Cameron Smith, whose 73-78 was triply disappointing. Any missed cut stings. A missed cut stings extra when you’re the hometown hero and defending champion. And it stings even more knowing that chances to play for OWGR points are, for now, relatively scarce. Why do those points matter? Even though Smith’s 2022 Open Championship exempts him for five years’ worth of majors, it doesn’t help him get onto the Aussie Olympic team for Paris 2024. And with a loaded field of contenders that now includes Lee, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Cameron Davis, Lucas Herbert and more, the fact that Smith has now slipped to No. 20 in the world has him worried.

“I know the criteria, I don’t know if that can change … but I have a couple of looks here and four more events in the majors, so hopefully I can keep that ranking up and wear the coat of arms on the chest again,” Smith said ahead of the Aussie PGA. Perhaps this week’s Australian Open will be a different story.

Then there are the LIV hopefuls or perhaps the LIV-curious who may have been considering playing in LIV’s Promotions event. The event offers three LIV spots for the 2024 season as well as a $1.5 million purse — all for an entry fee of less than $50. But there was some confusion among PGA Tour players around whether they could sign up or not.

The good news for those interested in the event: The PGA Tour didn’t deem the event “unauthorized,” which meant as long as pros got a release from the PGA Tour in time (45 days ahead for PGA Tour pros, 15 days for Korn Ferry Tour pros) their releases were approved. Bad news: the Promotions event was only confirmed on Oct. 26 which, depending how you do your counting, is about 43 days in advance of the Dec. 8 start date, so it’s unlikely PGA Tour guys would have applied in time.

So what happens if someone ignores the PGA Tour’s ruling and plays anyway? They’d likely be subject to the same punishment that previous LIV defectors suffered. In other words, a significant suspension. Framework agreement or not, it’s safe to say a wall still exists between LIV and the PGA Tour. Those who signed up believing they’d be able to keep both doors open will have a difficult decision to make.


Monday Finish HQ.

I achieved peak Seattle on Saturday afternoon. Here’s the scene: Driving back from a tree-cutting trip to Duval (shoutout Snow Valley Christmas Tree Farm), chilly but clear, fir tree strapped to the roof, the Olympics straight ahead and the jam-packed bleachers of Husky Stadium off to our right, brought to life by the low winter sun as we crossed the 520 Bridge, electric Apple Cup underway. All seemed right in the Pacific Northwest.


3 things to watch this week.

1. Tiger W. and Will Z.

Woods hasn’t played since Augusta. Will Zalatoris hasn’t played since the WGC-Match Play. Thursday they’ll both tee it up! It’s a good week for good golf.

2. A bucket-list Pinehurst trip…

Our folks here at InsideGolf are working to build out some experiences that would otherwise be unattainable for golf fans, so if you’re a golf diehard who likes inside access then consider checking out this trip to Pinehurst next summer which includes a guided tour of Pinehurst No. 2 just before the U.S. Open gets underway — plus a round at the all-new No. 10 course, a stay at the Carolina Hotel, another round at No. 8, dinner at the Dornoch Cottage and more. You can read more here. (I know, I know. It’s not cheap! But it’ll make for a special few days.)

3. Panther National, unveiled.

We trekked to Palm Beach County’s newest private course to join Justin Thomas, Jack Nicklaus and more on Day 1 at Panther National. You can get a good look at the course plus an eagle look from Thomas, a swing tip from a recent PGA Tour winner, Scheffler-Schauffele confusion and more:

In the meantime I’ll be writing, tweeting, Instagramming and whatever else for all week from the Hero World Challenge — stay tuned!

Dylan (cautiously) welcomes your comments at

Exit mobile version