Since March, Brooks Koepka has emphatically denied he would think about becoming a member of the breakaway, Saudi-backed LIV Golf sequence.
“Cash isn’t going to vary my life,” Koepka mentioned on the time with a disdainful sneer. As just lately as two weeks in the past, Koepka was nonetheless telling fellow gamers he was not all for leaving the PGA Tour.
On Tuesday, he defected to the rival LIV Golf circuit, which can maintain its second occasion, exterior Portland, Ore., beginning on June 30.
What modified for Koepka? It could be straightforward to say there have been most probably greater than 100 million causes for him to reverse course since different former PGA Tour gamers akin to Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau have reportedly acquired nine-figure contracts to align with LIV Golf. The brand new circuit guarantees a restricted, shortened schedule that offers golfers extra flexibility and hosts no-cut tournaments wherein each participant is assured a hefty payday.
However each participant who entered the inaugural LIV Golf occasion exterior London earlier this month was suspended by the PGA Tour, and future entrants to imminent LIV Golf tournaments will likely be handled equally.
Koepka’s choice just isn’t a shock — he telegraphed it with a scornful information convention eventually week’s U.S. Open exterior Boston — however it’s one other victory for LIV Golf in its combat for credibility in opposition to the established PGA Tour. Abraham Ancer of Mexico, who’s 31 years previous and ranked twentieth within the males’s world rankings, additionally dedicated to the LIV Golf sequence on Tuesday.
Koepka, 32, who gained 4 main championships between 2017 and 2019, has been injured and struggling for years. His world rating has slipped to No. 19 this week from No. 1 in 2019. In a little bit of irony, Koepka is becoming a member of LIV Golf about 10 days after DeChambeau, his longtime antagonist, switched his allegiance. DeChambeau has additionally been dogged by well being points. As soon as considered as a hard-swinging, bulked up game-changing phenomenon who captivated youthful followers together with his audacious size off the tee, DeChambeau has tumbled from fourth within the rankings to thirtieth. He was an afterthought eventually week’s U.S. Open, ending tied for 56th. Koepka missed the reduce at this 12 months’s Masters Event and completed exterior the highest 50 eventually month’s P.G.A. Championship and eventually week’s U.S. Open.
However Koepka’s exit nonetheless gives one other noteworthy little bit of sudden momentum for LIV Golf, whose main shareholder is the Non-public Funding Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. Solely six weeks in the past, there was practically common solidarity among the many PGA Tour’s participant ranks.
Every reversal of opinion sends little tremors by means of the close-knit neighborhood of PGA Tour gamers and has that means. A worry of getting left behind can pervade the group, as with all different, particularly when gamers maintain going again on their phrase. Their colleagues might ponder: Ought to I leap ship now, earlier than it’s too late and the highest LIV Golf contracts are gone?
Some perspective is critical. A substantial majority of the very best younger gamers have remained loyal to the PGA Tour. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas — ranked first by means of fifth — affirm their dedication to the PGA Tour weekly. Morikawa did it once more Tuesday when he tweeted: “To state for the document, as soon as once more, you all are completely mistaken. I’ve mentioned it since February at Riviera that I’m right here to remain on the PGA Tour and nothing has modified.”
However it’s straightforward to surprise what number of extra new faces there may be within the discipline by June 30, when LIV Golf makes its first look in the USA. The total checklist of entrants is anticipated this week.
What number of will likely be within the discipline when the upstart tour arrives at Trump Nationwide Golf Membership in Bedminster, N.J., on July 29? That event will likely be held after the mid-July British Open, the final of this 12 months’s main males’s golf championships.
What is thought is that the stress continues to ramp up on the PGA Tour to reply to the credible menace LIV Golf is posing. And Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, has the framework of a plan to at the very least partially appease gamers drawn to a shorter schedule and better earnings. (Trace: It appears to be like an terrible lot just like the LIV Golf schedule and prize cash.)
A Fast Information to the LIV Golf Sequence
A brand new sequence. The brand new Saudi-financed, controversy-trailed LIV Golf sequence held its first occasion in June. However what’s it? Who’s enjoying it? What’s all of the hubbub, and how will you watch it? Right here’s what to know:
In a gamers’ assembly on Tuesday, based on a number of individuals who have been in attendance, Monahan outlined a considerably revised PGA Tour schedule for subsequent 12 months that may function eight occasions with restricted fields and no cuts, and elevated purses of at the very least $20 million for the highest 50 gamers from this 12 months’s season-long FedEx Cup standings. The folks spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to reveal the main points mentioned.
LIV Golf gamers would clearly be excluded. The payouts for this 12 months’s PGA Tour occasions fluctuate broadly, however a median complete could be about $8.5 million.
The tour can be planning a contraction of the season that will give gamers extra break day within the fall months, which in 2013-14 had a considerable enlargement of tournaments. That improve has been broadly unpopular with many gamers.
The PGA Tour’s newest proposal may stem the tide of rebels leaving its as soon as placid nest. Or, the tour may take in the lack of some gamers, and with all the company sponsors and custom it has in its nook, prosper with a majority of golfers who stay. It nonetheless holds probably the most advantageous playing cards, not the least of which being that the LIV Golf circuit nonetheless has no mainstream TV contract for its occasions. It’s just about not possible to be a viable sports activities leisure choice with out one.
Perhaps the 2 golf excursions will coexist, at the very least for some time. Golf is considered one of our extra unpredictable sports activities. Maybe extra change is coming. Nothing appears a relentless currently in golf.
At his information convention on the eve of the U.S. Open final week, Koepka was requested if he had made a “everlasting choice” on whether or not he’ll bolt to the LIV Golf sequence.
He answered: “As of final week. That’s it.”