The head of the US PGA Tour has blasted a rival Saudi Arabia-funded golf collection for trying to “buy the game of golf”, as an growing variety of circuit members defect to the brand new mission fronted by former star participant Greg Norman, escalating the battle for the way forward for the game.
Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour, stated that LIV Golf, which is majority-owned by Saudi’s $620bn sovereign wealth fund, was “not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game”.
“I am not naive,” stated Monahan. “If this is an arms race and if the only weapons are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can’t compete with a foreign monarchy spending billions of dollars trying to buy the game of golf.”
Saudi’s Public Investment Fund has earmarked not less than $2bn to spend money on LIV, threatening the PGA Tour’s place as one of many dominant forces within the sport by paying profitable charges to attract away a few of the recreation’s largest stars, together with Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau.
The PGA Tour is growing its personal prize cash and rewards for golfers. It has already suspended greater than 17 of its members who took half within the inaugural LIV event in London two weeks in the past. Two of the longer term LIV gatherings will occur at golf golf equipment operated by former US president Donald Trump.
The London occasion was the primary of eight so-called invitational tournaments, which is able to provide a complete prize purse of $250mn.
Critics have rounded on LIV gamers for signing as much as a contest backed by PIF due to Saudi Arabia’s poor report on human rights, the homicide of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 and its army operations in Yemen.
Through the course of the spring, the tour has dismissed options that LIV was gaining any momentum, however has nonetheless suffered a gradual circulate of exits. LIV revealed on Thursday that it had signed former world primary Brooks Koepka, a defection that has stung the PGA Tour due to the stature of the four-times main winner and his earlier indications of loyalty.
Confirmation of Koepka’s transfer got here as Monahan set out plans to extend the typical prize cash on provide at eight high occasions in 2023 to $20mn — a complete improve to $160mn from $106mn.
The larger pot, along with calendar and format adjustments, is designed to strengthen the enchantment of the PGA Tour because it fights to retain gamers being courted by LIV.
“Our members compete for the opportunity to add their names to history books, and, yes, significant financial benefits, without having to wrestle with any sort of moral ambiguity,” stated Monahan.
LIV stated: “The Tour today has made the case for LIV Golf. They have underpaid players for years, failed to innovate and today confirmed that LIV’s format is better. We welcome the announcement, which proves competition can grow the game and benefit golfers, all the while improving the experience for fans — which is exactly what LIV is doing.
“Instead of banning players, the Tour should now work on coexisting with us. After all, we’re just getting started.”