The First Call Inbox

Who is to blame for LIV, PGA Tour divide?

The First Call readers respond to Sergio Garcia's assertion that the media is the root of the divisiveness, and offer a few lingering Masters reflections

Editor's note: Since we started publishing the TFC Inbox, it has been one of our more popular pieces of editorial content. So, let me first start out by saying thank you to all of our readers who contribute their opinions. An email I often receive in my inbox, though, asks the question "How come my response didn't run?" Good and fair question, and most times the answer is it didn't meet the submission guidelines. In order for the response to be published, we need a first and last name, along with the city and state of residence.

Question of the week [April 15-21]: During Masters week, Sergio Garcia blamed the media for the fracture between LIV Golf and the PGA and European tours. Who do you believe is at fault?

RELATED: The First Call Inbox archive

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Players like Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm and Talor Gooch are to blame.  Sergio, go play on your LIV tour, be quiet and cash your checks.  

Chris Belanger 
Cincinnati, Ohio

Sergio Garcia has always been a whiner. His nickname, El Nino, says it all, "little boy." It ought to be "big baby." Unabashed greed is what caused the rift in the world of golf.

Larry Ashe
Chicago, Illinois

Sergio Garcia is 100% correct. The media, specifically the tools at Golf Channel, made any pro who signed with LIV out to be a traitor. These nitwits failed to mention that every Fortune 500 company does business with the Saudis. Our federal government does business with them. Why are professional golfers held to a different standard?

Separately, the media canonized the ignorant Rory McIlroy and demonized Phil Mickelson, who was proven to be totally right about the corrupt PGA Tour. He singlehandedly forced it to increase purses. I doubt any of the spoiled brats on the PGA Tour ever thanked him.

Vinny Mooney
Poughkeepsie, New York

Without a doubt, the media likes to stir the proverbial pot. It’s in their DNA. Be it politics or sports they (media) love conflict.

Ed Randolph
Plymouth, Michigan

It is simply money and greed that has caused the divide in golf.

Jim Noyd
San Marcos, California

Sergio Garcia's take on the fracture with LIV is preposterous. The only ones to blame are the players who took the money and ran. Sergio has always been a crybaby. Trying to blame anyone but himself is a prime example.

Tom Klabunde
Tempe, Arizona

I think it should be clear that Yasir Al-Rumayyan, as head of the Saudi PIF, is responsible. Throwing money at professional golfers who were big names but were either past their prime, unlikely to win again, in need money to pay off their gambling debts, losing personal confidence or just wanting to take a little easier route to a better financial position without the requirement for personal performance.

More recently, those still in their prime and likely to win on the tour see it as a way to make a fast buck, achieve lifetime financial security and still have a high probability of getting back on the tour while still in their prime.

Basically taking advantage of greed and need.

You can't blame the media for reporting reality. Maybe some of the people involved are sensitive to seeing the reality they have chosen to be part of in written words.

Terry Dauenhauer
Austin, Texas

Sergio Garcia and company need look no further than the nearest mirror to locate the source of acrimony between LIV and the PGA Tour. It is one thing to be attracted to, and then actually take, the incredible amounts of money offered by the PIF in their quest to take control of the PGA Tour. However, another dimension was added when some of the takers then decided to embark upon a program of inflammatory statements and then actually sued the Tour hoping for relief from the results of their actions. I remember clearly Sergio's statement of "not being able to wait" to get away from the PGA Tour. A number of the better known "cry babies" also actively participated in a LIV-prepared and -endorsed program of complaints and derogatory statements. A few of the takers simply did the honorable thing and went quietly into oblivion to count the money received recognizing their accomplishments on the PGA Tour.

The future probably will involve some way of bringing the actual conflict to an end, simply because the PIF will continue to throw money at the issue until they totally cripple the PGA Tour. Jon Rahm finally took the money and now wonders why some of his fellow competitors will no longer talk to him. The PIF is going to keep offering more and more money until some more major stars can no longer resist. Not enough will be able to resist.

Unfortunately, the end result will be a tour that cannot be sustained economically. At some point, even PIF will expect to see some possible return on their investment. Actual long-time sponsors are already balking at the fee structure needed to support the larger purses. The end will be in sight when the TV networks ask for a review of the current TV contract that can no longer justify the fees paid. No one watches the LIV product and what is left of the PGA Tour will be an economic model that can't afford to continue to provide prize money in the amounts needed to fund the spoiled elite.

Nothing about the probable solutions and the surviving organization will be pretty or noble.

Len Raley
Auburn, California

Short and sweet. Greg Norman and the Saudis with all their greedy money [are to blame].

Bob Norris
Cincinnati, Ohio

The fault rests not with the media, but should be shared by the PGA Tour (who were too slow in responding) and a problem that has been part of human nature from the beginning — greed. How much money does a person need? Jon Rahm is the perfect example by saying that he didn’t need more money while supporting the PGA Tour and then greed stepped up and changed his mind, along with all the others. Unfortunately, many have lost the respect of the golfing public and will have to work hard to regain it. Bryson deChambeau regained a little at the Masters. Phil Mickelson did not.

Peter Boyce
Strathroy, Ontario

During Masters week, Sergio Garcia blamed the media for the fracture between LIV Golf and the PGA and European tours. Who do you believe is at fault?

Sergio, like Bryson DeChambeau and many other LIV golfers, wants to take the devil’s money and still play with the saints. He is delusional, greedy and still has no idea how much he has aided this attack on the stability of the best sporting institution we have.  

One of the best things about golf and its history, are the incredible people who have shaped the values and morals of the competition. We still have those people involved on the PGA Tour. At least LIV helped flush out some of the scum. Good riddance. I will never watch LIV Golf and don’t know what I will do if they let those traitors back in.

It’s a sad situation.

Matthew Gray
Corvallis, Oregon

The media is not responsible for the rift between LIV and the PGA Tour. The media only highlights the problems with leadership and greed and large egos. Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson, for example, want to continue to be relevant as their playing ability diminished and personal problems distracted from their personas. Sergio Garcia isn't smart enough to figure out the situation (remember his shallow comments about Tiger Woods and fried chicken). I watch fewer golf events now than before LIV came onto the scene. I do watch occasionally because I still cheer for true professionals like Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler.

Jim Fuquay
Indianapolis, Indiana

Hmm. Maybe Sergio Garcia is right. After all, why are we still listening or paying attention to anything he says?

Umm, maybe blame the media.

Peter Croppo
Bayfield, Ontario

There is a fracture between these tours. The only way the public knows about it is through the media. And the media loves controversy. It sells. They are not fully to blame, but certainly add fuel to the fire.

John Gildow 
Camano Island, Washington 

Sergio Garcia finds a lot to complain about, and finds a lot of others to blame. He certainly won’t blame his new boss for the bad publicity generated by murdering journalists, and he certainly can’t understand why the media finds murdering journalists reprehensible. He can’t understand why the golf media finds Saudi-owned golf boring, but, judging from the performance of the Saudi-owned golfers at the Masters, LIV golf is just a bunch of has-been pros punching the clock. No need for any of them to win tournaments. They’ve already been paid and only need to show up. 

George Moore
Placitas, New Mexico

Dear Sergio,

You are a golfer that has always blamed somebody else or something else. It's not the media. It's that you are a mercenary and it's about the money. The media is reporting the facts. There are editorials, and those are necessary for a sense of perspective. But please, take a look in the mirror. Take responsibility Sergio.

Yvonne Guerra
Alhambra, California

It is absolutely clear that the media took sides in the LIV Golf/PGA Tour issue. One need only read/listen to Golf Channel to understand this and know that, along with other media outlets, there is a concentrated and coordinated narrative to discredit LIV Golf.

Why, for example, is Golf Channel and other media outlets not challenging PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan's dragging out of the negotiations between the PGA and LIV Golf? The answer is, the PGA Tour was not negotiating in good faith as it was secretly negotiating with Strategic Sports Group (SSG)? 

Another question that comes to mind is about LIV Golfers and the world ranking. Reading the Official World Golf Ranking's response to LIV Golf is incongruent at best. For instance, playing 54 holes versus 72 holes? The solution is a prorated allotment of ranking points.

Another is the OWGR's complaint about the limited number of players — LIV Golf starts and finishes with 54 players. The PGA Tour has cut rules where 70 players finish a PGA tournament. A typical PGA Tour tournament starts with 156 golfers and, ultimately, 86 players get cut — and those cut make no money. So which is a more fair process, LIV Golf that provides for all golfers in its tournament to earn a living or the PGA Tour's process that does not? Most important, why the media doesn't challenge the PGA Tour's treatment of golfers who are cut?

So, the PGA Tour typically cuts over 50% of the players in a given tournament whereas LIV Golf does not, yet the OWGR somehow views the PGA Tour's process is more congruent with its ranking system? I dare to say if the media challenged that perspective one would think the OWGR would be more willing to create a pathway for the LIV Golfers.

Finally, TV broadcast coverage. A LIV Golf tournament draws a significant amount of viewers, yet none of the major networks cover its tournaments. Why not? One suspects the networks are colluding with the PGA Tour to cut LIV Golf out of the broadcast arena. This, in itself, could be viewed as anti-trust activity. Again, why isn’t this being addressed by the media?

Personally, I believe the two leagues can happily coexist and would enjoy seeing inter-league play. For example, the PGA Tour, using an acceptable ranking system, could send 54 players to compete in a joint LIV / PGA Tour tournament. How exciting would that be? As for TV coverage, each league could coordinate tournaments so as to allow legacy broadcasters to broadcast both leagues — it would be a significant revenue stream for the broadcast channels. Imagine a Super Bowl-type of tournament between LIV and the PGA Tour at the end of their respective seasons. It would draw millions of viewers globally.

Ted Isabella 
Sun City Center, Florida

I lay the blame for the division in the game of golf at the feet of the government of Saudi Arabia. It's to pass itself off as a country worthy of respect and hoping the western world will regard it with respect. The Public Investment Fund had the money and it was able to buy many of the top golfers, who’s loyalty and sense of decency was open to the highest bidder. 

Rick Wright
Alamo, Texas

I honestly believe that it was very greedy on behalf of the players that left for LIV. Most of the players who took the huge payouts didn’t really need the money. No consideration was given for the fact that they had it so good, the way it was. The split has really affected the fans love for the game. The popularity of watching the best players competing against each other in all the tournaments was greatly diminished.

With all of the outstanding new young golfers coming on the scene, I think the game will only get better, and will not miss those players who left for LIV. I see where some are feeling sorry they left. We, the diehard fans, will not miss the ones who don’t come back.

Rudy Lucero
Colorado Springs, Colorado 

It is the job of the media in any free society to report and analyze news and current events. It's a fundamental component of our liberty and free speech. It is also the job of the media to be provocative and ask the hard questions. When doing their job, the media may facilitate spirited debate and even arguments. As long as that discussion remains civil that is a good thing as various points of view come to light.

The sudden appearance of a disruptor (LIV Golf) caused the rift among the various tours, not the media. While it is true the media has provided ample commentary on the subject, they were simply reporting on a seismic change within the ecosystem of the sport, as well as the implication of those changes. 

Normally competition would be well received but given the ties to the Saudi regime and the deep sensitivity surrounding the Khashoggi murder the media has had a field day on the ethics of sportswashing and LIV in particular. This commentary has exacerbated existing tensions, but at the end of the day the media was simply doing their job. Rather than spend any time or energy on the role of the media, all those within golf need to work toward finding a solution to the current rift in the men's professional game. If TV ratings are any indication, I suggest they get on with that sooner rather than later. 

Reid Farrill
Toronto, Ontario

Those players who put money ahead of overlooking the travesty of those who died when the towers came down are to blame. They had a choice and they chose money over character.

Ken MacKay
Stouffville, Ontario

That the LIV Golf boys, for the most part, were non-factors at the Masters was a totally predictable happening. The PGA Tour is what golf is about — the 72 holes, the cut, the quiet gentlemanliness, the records and the tradition. That Jon Rahm had a C-level tournament is directly caused by the fact that in a hasty and stupid act, he is no longer able to keep the Olympic champion-like sharpness that playing on the PGA Tour requires.

I wish for LIV and all its participants to fade into the meaningless oblivion that they richly deserve. Now the LIV boy are on the outside looking in and weeping, and are bored to death and losing their game. I say good. Please tell Sergio Garcia to blame me personally, as I am rooting against him and every other LIV golfer for the rest of their lives. If they want to play 54 in shorts to loud music for a lot of money, but no history and no legitimate format, I say they should enjoy themselves, but you could not pay me to watch it.

Dan Gould
Fresh Meadows, New York

The TV coverage is nowhere near as good as it was in the past. One thing I really did not like, for instance, was CBS very often showing the winner walking from green to tee instead of showing other players actually playing.

Personally, I think the coverage is on tape to begin with and that’s fine as they can show interesting players' shots, etc. Being the top major, TV coverage needs changing. When it first comes on, do you really think we want to watch about 15 minutes of talking before coverage starts. And I am not interested in watching players warm up, show the actual tournament players competing, period.

Bob Zalewski 
Fairport, New York

Did anybody point out that Scottie Scheffler missed three or four short putts over the four rounds that were careless lip outs, and that is three or four more than usual? I guess that most players who make the cut on any weekend have zero or, at most, one short miss. I wonder if ShotLink keeps that stat. 

Donn Rutkoff
Oceanside, California

I have been actively following the tournament since 1964 when Arnold Palmer won his fourth title, and have had the good fortune to attend on fojur occasions.

I am an alum of Ole Miss who believes strongly in tradition. Please do not change a thing. You have achieved
something that the entire world can cherish, even beyond the world of golf.

God bless the ANGC.

Steve Vassallo
Oxford, Mississippi

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