The First Call Inbox

Has a year changed the view of LIV Golf?

A lot has happened in the 12 months since LIV Golf debuted, but the opinions of The First Call readers remain mostly unchanged

LIV Golf Orlando 2023
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman on the first tee during LIV Golf Orlando's final round at Orange County National Golf Center on Feb. 4, 2023.

Question of the week [May 29 – June 4]: June 9 will mark the anniversary of the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event. Since then, more players have jumped from the PGA Tour, two (Cameron Smith and Brooks Koepka) have won half of the four majors played, and the league still does not receive world ranking points. How have your opinions of LIV Golf changed, if at all?

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My opinion of LIV Golf has not changed because of the recent performance of LIV players in the majors. It was foolish to think that all of the LIV players would suddenly lose their skills because they were playing in 54-hole, shotgun-start events. The guys who have performed well recently have a lot of talent and will perform well because of that. 

Phil Mickelson was a big surprise in the Masters as was Brooks Koepka, but it's obvious that Brooks has made a significant recovery in his physical condition and thus his attitude. 

But the big question about LIV is still whether or not they can generate the fan base needed to be commercially successful. I don't think they can. People will tune in to watch Brooks, Phil and Cam Smith play in the majors, but will people be excited to watch them play against each other for $4 million prize money? I just don't think so. These guys have so much money already that playing for $4 million just isn't that meaningful any more. I think the Saudis will have to keep funding LIV for a long time, and the next question is ... how long will they do that?

John Abercrombie
Cape Girardeau, Missouri

I haven’t been able to classify LIV Golf as entertainment yet. I have grown up with the majors and the classic PGA Tour events. I’m not going to change.

I do feel that the majors and the Ryder Cup should invite whoever they want to participate. World golf rankings are not truly objective, so don’t restrict fields based on them.

Tony Austin
Orlando, Florida 

Playing in a league financed by blood money should not qualify for world ranking points. I believe that the players knew that before jumping from the PGA Tour to LIV. They seem to be making plenty of money from LIV. Money appears to be the driving force behind their move. They need to forget the PGA Tour and world rankings. Let them enjoy their guaranteed pay for each LIV tournament that they play in, and quit trying to siphon money away from those who remained loyal to the PGA Tour.

David Couch
Russell, Kansas

My opinions on LIV Golf have recently changed for the better. I initially thought it was a new and exciting concept with interesting golfers that I enjoy watching. Now, I am incredibly pleased by the intense drive by each golfer in every tournament that continues even when they are individually way behind due to the team element. I think the relaxed atmosphere has made many middle of the road players improve their game, coupled with the exciting strong players that have joined — and who I have always enjoyed watching. It also helps that the PGA Tour has become incredibly boring.

Matthew Fenn
Hoffman Estates, Illinois

My opinion of LIV Golf remains unchanged. I have been pro-LIV since its inception. Competition is the driving force of life and the life blood of success. Your QOTD is very appropriate and germane to this point: "You should never stay at the same level. Always push yourself to the next." It is the American way of life and the reason we are who we are in the world marketplace and the game of life, numero uno. All the members of the PGA Tour should be sending thank you notes to Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson for their vision, foresight and courage. And, as to the commissioner of the PGA Tour, he showed great wisdom in showering Tour players with mucho dinero rapido. He had to react quickly to save face and save his job.

Juan Elizondo
Omaha, Nebraska

World ranking points.

The PGA Tour and other powers in golf must find a way to give world ranking points to LIV Golf players. They earn them and deserve them. To me, one of the biggest insults and pompous reactions is as follows: Log in to the all-time money list of official PGA Tour money winners and Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson et al. are not even listed. You can be on the list if you’re dead, but not if you’re LIV.

Joe Taylor
Overton, Texas

My opinions on the background noise regarding LIV Golf haven’t changed much, but then I wasn’t so solidly behind how the Saudi’s were laundering money thru Donald Trump’s locations — I mean, really they have nothing better to do with the money? I don't know, maybe I’m just getting soft in my old age, but my brain hurts when I go so far down that rabbit hole.

I will say what has changed is how I’ve become more focused on the capability and quality of talent of the best players from LIV. It’s as if they are playing on a different planet, but somehow rival seems to be a word that just doesn’t fit, and we need to acknowledge the guys who have the talent to compete and win major tournaments. How do you not recognize Brooke Koepka as the only guy to win five majors in the last six years?

Going forward, there needs to be less focus on the money aspects and much more focus on those LIV players who’ve managed top 10 or 25 finishes in the most important events in the world, and proved they can still play. Is that not the original intent behind the Official World Golf Ranking?

And if not, what then is the purpose of open tournaments other than to identify the best players in the world?  

Peter Croppo
Bayfield, Ontario

No one ever disputed that six to eight of the world's better golfers took the guaranteed money to defect to the LIV Tour. Whatever success they have in LIV or at majors really has no bearing on my opinion.

I have zero interest in LIV as 54-hole golf exhibitions do not interest me, and never will. The idea of the World Tour that Norman has always flouted was to increase compensation, reduce competition and make golf less USA centric.

Why would any American buy into that, especially with the funding for the whole venture being Saudi based? The PGA Tour is doing just fine, although I regret their choice to offer no-cut tournaments and restricted field events. 

I harbor no ill will toward the golfers who took the money and left. I really just don’t need to hear anything more from them about the PGA Tour, OWGR points or the Ryder Cup. 

Terry Fraser
Huntsville, Alabama 

My opinion of LIV hasn’t changed much in the last year. But my opinion of the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy have dramatically changed (I already have an opinion of Tiger Woods).

Out of nowhere the Tour found around $100 million in its bank account that they were able to use to inflate the payouts to their members. Then misters McIlroy and Woods, acting as de-facto Tour commissioners, designed a two-tiered tour that benefits the elite players and leaves the non-top 70 to scramble for inclusion. 

But Mr. McIlroy outdid even himself recently when he said some players may pass up playing the majors if the purses are not increased. He did say he wouldn’t, but that’s because he chasing a milestone and he has enough money. I guess that means that money is more important than trophies ... unlike what we’ve heard for years.

Maybe the Tour should scrap its FedEx points ranking and turn the clock back to the 1970s and 1980s when the top 60 money winners earned exemptions into the next year. After all, like LIV, the Tour is now all about the Benjamins.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Virginia

I still despise this league ... again more division in our country that we do not need. It’s a BS league with no cuts and guaranteed money. This is just an exhibition league. I’m fine with Brooks Koepka winning. 

Craig Melville
Maple Glen, Pennsylvania

I’m all for it. It’s a better format. Love the shotgun start. This allows the audience to catch most of the action since it has full TV or streaming coverage vs. the PGA Tour, which does not offer that. Adding teams offers a different dynamic also. Nothing wrong with having player contracts since all other professional sports athletes have contracts. It’s just a better product and isn’t boring. It also frees up most viewer's Sundays.

Gary Vernon
Havre de Grace, Maryland

It's a disgrace to the game that LIV Golf players are allowed to play in the majors. Integrity is still an important aspect of golf. For goodness sake, we are expected to call our own penalties. 

They took the money. I would have to. Let's move on.

Also, they hold two majors. Didn't win as LIV players. Cameron Smith won his before defecting.

Jay Rogers 
St. Louis, Missouri

My opinions are the same. Nobody has subjected their corporation to a more precarious future than PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.

He has built the worst-case scenario of a two-tier tour, the haves and the have-nots with both the players and the events. Fortunately, the Tour still has the "must appear" clause or about 20 tournaments are done. Three things are keeping the sponsors at bay — TV exposure (the benefit of sponsoring a televised event outweighs the cost of the same money in ads), funds are given to the charity in the name of the sponsor and the sponsor's staff, and customers still play alongside the top players in the pro-am.

However, their product is broken. Observe the declining number of spectators at any given event and the declining amount of regular reporting of PGA Tour results in every local newspaper.

Take away the majors and the new elite events and the Tour is failing. Monahan will wear that crown forever. Some day, perhaps someone (not L1V) will come along with money and an attractive product and that will be the end of the PGA Tour.

Michael Schurman
Durham, Ontario

Playing in a league financed by blood money should not qualify for world ranking points. I believe that the players knew that before jumping from the PGA Tour to LIV. They seem to be making plenty of money from LIV, and money appears to be the driving force behind their move. They need to forget the PGA Tour and world rankings. Let them enjoy their guaranteed pay for each LIV tournament that they play in, and quit trying to siphon money away from those who remained loyal to the PGA Tour.

David Couch
Russell, Kansas

I enjoy the LIV Golf League much more than the PGA Tour. I now only watch golf and the NFL (which is probably coming to an end because of the political infiltration over the past few years) for now.

LIV is much more fun and entertaining to watch with the addition of the team play. The announcers and players are real, and they appreciate the fans. Now I record the PGA Tour to watch later for more golf and watch LIV live.

I don’t like the sugary self-serving announcing provided by Jim Nantz and his crew — very boring. Also the conceited, arrogant whining by Brandel Chamblee is a joke. That guy couldn’t spew what he’s comes up with without a script from the writers at the Golf Channel.

The LIV players are professional athletes who should be able to make as much as the market will bear. The PGA Tour players have certainly benefited from LIV. Bottom line, the LIV product is better.

I could care less about the politics. Also, the PGA Tour was a monopoly and since it is an integral part of the Official World Golf Ranking board, its highly unlikely LIV players will get their just due recognition for now. I’d bet there will be more younger talent opting for LIV in the future.

Robert J. Castro
La Quinta, California

1. Eligibility: The PGA Tour is a separate entity from the PGA of America, for those who don't understand. The PGA Championship is run by the PGA, not the PGA Tour. Any U.S. golfer eligible to play in the PGA Championship is eligible to play for the U.S. in the Ryder Cup because the Ryder Cup is also run by the PGA of America when played in the United States.

2. Brandel Chamblee on LIV: He says that the same highly competitive guys who were on the revered PGA Tour are now lousy players, won't perform, give up easily, sort of soft "on the take," by playing in a different format tour. That is an indictment of the profession of golf tournament player, his own bailiwick, his own source of income. Many many viewers turn the volume off when he speaks. Rarely — never?? — do I see comments anywhere praising him. He rarely speaks well of a player, he prefers to speak on the negative. Debbie Downer of golf. His 180-degree u-turn on LIV players reminds me of the great Groucho Marx, who said "I don't want to belong to a club that lowers its standards to let someone like me in."

3. Brooks Koepka: He is obviously a very good golfer, competitor and lives his own life. Maybe later in life he will be more public, appear in and sponsor charity work, etc. Ben Hogan didn't; Arnold Palmer did. What he does in his private life is not a reason for me to berate whatever it is I am supposed to berate him on. I envy his physique. I have lost a lot of golf, like 20 years, due to injuries — my spine is like Stacy Lewis before her surgery. Lots of hours and weeks in physical therapy, exercise, rehab, with a few months of golf in between. He is a role model for work ethic to regain 100% health and he did not complain about his bad luck.

4.  Paul Azinger: Unfortunately, he is not an interesting commentator. Not all retired big winners are — Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Craig Stadler, Ray Floyd? Ben Hogan almost never spoke or did any public events. Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller were. But Zinger is not showing humor, imagination, making up fun or new analogies, unexpected word play and is pretty flat emotion wise. And, like Chamblee, spends more time on the negative than on the positive. The guys who broadcast the British senior events are good. He can also read some Ben Franklin or Edgar Alan Poe for expanding his vocabulary and imagination.

5.  It is not for me to segregate Saudi Arabia from China or Russia.  Augusta National is not an NAACP or Gloria Steinem home base.  Private clubs have a lot of Jewish golfers? Maybe the State Department can illuminate me or other golfers or Callaway or TaylorMade on foreign direct investment.

Donn Rutkoff
Oceanside, California

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