‘It might embolden them’: Pro says Tour changes could lead to LIV exodus

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LIV Golf opened its season last month in Mexico.

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The PGA Tour’s newest changes, one pro says, could instead change LIV Golf.  

“Have been thinking a bit about these latest PGAT changes and what it could mean for LIV,” Eddie Pepperell tweeted Saturday. “And I’ve concluded that I think it might embolden them.”

Pepperell’s comment, along with an eight-tweet explanation, comes after the Tour revealed this week a series of moves as part of its fight against LIV, the Saudi-backed series that has attracted several pros and is now in its second season. Among the changes, the Tour will play eight designated events next year without a cut, and only 50 players — the top 50 from the prior year’s year-long standings — will be guaranteed spots in those events. 

That limited access was Pepperell’s concern. Pros outside the 50 will still have opportunities to make the big-money designated tournaments — but an offer from LIV, which plays all of its events with just 48 players and no cut, could now become more attractive, he wrote.  

“Next year, effectively 98 players across both LIV and the PGAT are guaranteed to be playing for a LOT of money!” Pepperell tweeted. “And a lot more than everyone else. We know the 48 on LIV will be fixed (which is just one reason why it sucks). The PGAT will have some access in as we know..

“If however, and I’m going to use him as an example because of his current PGAT ranking and profile, Tyrell Hatton finishes where he is currently ranked on FedEx, do you think he is now more or less likely to consider an offer from LIV? Given he won’t be in next years PGAT top 50.

“There will be some very good players with high profiles who won’t finish this season in the top 50 on the FedEx. So if they want to *ensure* they are playing for the top dollars, they will likely give LIV more consideration, IMO.”

On his Twitter thread, Pepperell also wrote that the moves could enhance LIV’s argument to receive world-ranking points for its events, and that players would have “even less to lose by signing for LIV.” Both series would now be playing smaller-field, no-cut events, though as GOLF’s Sean Zak explained this week, the Tour’s tournaments will make up about 20-25% of the PGA Tour’s annual schedule load, while LIV events include the field-and-cut features across the board.

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Pepperell’s comments followed another thread he shared this week in reaction to the Tour’s changes. That one was a cut appreciation. For background, in a four-event stretch in 2018, Pepperell was DQ’d for signing an incorrect scorecard at the BMW International Open and missed the cut at the Irish Open — before finishing second at the Scottish Open ad sixth at the Open Championship. Then, the next year, he played in the WGC-Mexico Championship and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, both no-cut events.

“In mid 2018, I bogeyed the last hole in back to back events in Germany and Ireland to M/C by 1 shot,” Pepperell wrote. “It killed me. I went home, thought about s**t, and then came 2nd at the Scottish Open and (nearly) won the Open at Carnoustie (with a hangover..)  

“A year on in 2019, thanks in part to those two good performances in Scotland, I recall playing poorly in both the WGC’s in Mexico and Memphis, and not caring about anything during the final round. 

“Missing cuts is essential for growth as a professional golfer.

“We could argue that the top guys who will be playing the elevated events in 2024 have already done all their ‘growing’. But you’d be surprised how much it means to make a cut when your backs up against the wall and you’re struggling. It’s a mini win, and it breeds great things.

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“So whether it’s LIV or now the PGA Tour, as someone who has played competitively for years now, removing the cut is one of the worst things to happen to the game in the last 12 months. 

“Rant over.”

In his latest thread, Pepperell ended it this way:

“I *think* the PGAT had the momentum and the opportunity to leave LIV for dead next year by simply doing what it’s doing this year; offering up tons of money to all the guys on the PGAT. But by attempting to enrich the top guys even more, I think they’ve opened themselves up..

“to the possibility that in 2024 they might well lose some high profile, very good golfers to LIV, who just didn’t have their best 2023.

“Just some thoughts. Don’t shout at me, I know I’ve probably missed something. 

“Happy weekend.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

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