Mickelson and Johnson against the loyalists of the PGA: the money of the Arabs splits golf

The new Super League opposing the PGA, the controversy over human rights and the future to be decided: what starts tomorrow at Brookline is a truly special Major

It is never nice to use words like war or battle to describe sport, especially at a time when the world has to deal with a real conflict that leaves behind thousands of deaths and millions of refugees. But it is difficult to stay away from war metaphors to tell the clash that has been splitting golf in recent months. On the one hand, the traditional tours, Pga and DpWorld, which have always monopolized the top business. On the other hand, the new Superlega led by Greg Norman – Liv Golf – who, thanks to money from the Saudi Arabian sovereign fund, is covering those who decide to join the new circuit with money. Which has fewer races (only 8), fewer committed players (48 against 156 of a normal tournament), fewer days of competition (3 instead of 4), no risk (there is no cut) and very rich prizes: in each stage 25 million dollars in prize money, 4 reserved for the winner and a nice sum guaranteed even for those who finish last. Plus an engagement prize than Phil Mickelson was 200 million dollars: the next to cash the super check, we are talking about a hundred million each, will be Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau.

Debut in London

The first Liv race took place last weekend in London. It was won by South African Charl Schwartzel who beat Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen. The PGA has indefinitely suspended its 17 members who were on the pitch in London, but could not force the Usga – United States Golf Assocation – which organizes the Us Open to do the same because the 4 majors have a life of their own and obviously they want to have the best in the world wherever they play. So in the third major of the season that starts tomorrow in Brookline, Massachusetts, everyone will be there. The rebels and loyalists. That they respect each other in words and say they understand the motivations of others, of those who went and those who remained, but still find themselves enlisted to fight the civil war that is shaking all the existing structures and that no one knows how it will end. The future of golf is up for grabs.

The Arab question

Arriving in Brookline, Phil Mickelson was faced with all those questions he had been evading for months. Including the protests of the associations of relatives of the victims of September 11: 15 of the 19 terrorists involved in the attacks of 2001 had Saudi origins. “I feel close to those who lost loved ones in that tragedy,” he said. A little bit. Because the provenance of money is one of the great ethical times that those who have chosen Liv find it hard to face. In America, the debate on Saudi Arabia is fierce because human rights movements are unleashed: from the murder of Jamal Khashoggi – according to the CIA the order came directly from the royal family – to the executions of opponents, from the condition of women to persecution of gays, golfers who accepted Liv’s money have to answer for everything. Even of things bigger than them. In normal times, Phil Mickelson would only be asked about the US Open, the only major he misses in his career and where he finished second six times, this time the political aspect eats the sport.

The loyal ones

On the other hand there are those who have remained faithful to the PGA who do not miss the opportunity to say how nice it is to compete with the best in the world, thus underlining that the Liv tournaments are little more than an exhibition. Rory McIlroy did it, who won in Canada last Sunday. Justin Thomas repeated this claiming to have lost sleep over this situation. In golf no one plays for free, but sporting merit is fundamental and the rebels give the unpleasant impression of being mercenaries who take advantage of the situation to earn much more by playing much less: “But if you don’t like what you’re doing, the money doesn’t change. the situation, “said Thomas. Jon Rahm is worried about the future of the Ryder Cup which could be banned for rebels: “It’s not for me to judge. But I know I could retire right now and live a very happy life knowing what I’ve done. here for the love of golf and I want to play against the best in the world. ” Precisely.

And the fans?

The Us Open 2022 marks an important, perhaps decisive moment. Should a Liv rebel win it would be a sensational boost for the Arab Super League. If instead – as is more likely – a loyalist, one of the many who has remained faithful to traditional tours, were to establish himself, it would be a demonstration of where the best really are. In addition, there is the unknown factor of the fans. Will they forgive the rebels for their choices? Or will there also be whistles and buuu? The golf war has just begun: the second Liv race is scheduled in Oregon at the end of the month, for the first time the competition with the PGA Tour will be direct: same days, same times. And the total fight will level up further. For the moment let’s enjoy Brookline’s Us Open: and may the best win, not the richest.

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