LIV Golf players say PGA Tour ‘tried to weaponize us’

NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — Whether you think the first shot was fired when Phil Mickelson said the PGA Tour uses “manipulative, coercive and heavy-handed tactics” and that its commissioner, Jay Monahan, will not do what is just “unless you have leverage…”

Or it was when Monahan revoked gambling privileges for those who hopped on LIV Golf and called Greg Norman’s business an “irrational threat” and “not concerned with return on investment or true growth in the game. “, it got juicy…

And not above good old-fashioned pettiness.

As the inaugural event of the LIV Golf Series in the United States begins Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, Oregon, the traditional league against the wild child continues to exchange insults and strategically timed announcements .

Monahan overshadowed the start of the first LIV event in London by announcing that those playing in the Saudi-backed series were suspended from the PGA Tour. This move came as the entire field was initially in LIV’s shotgun starting format.

LIV responded by welcoming Brooks Koepka into his team minutes during Monahan’s press conference at the Travelers Championship a week ago to announce that the PGA Tour was raising the purse at multiple tournaments.

On Tuesday, as LIV introduced three of its newest members, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Matthew Wolff, at Pumpkin Ridge, Monahan revealed that the PGA Tour and DP World Tour are expanding and strengthening their alliance.

This turns into Duke versus North Carolina. Red Sox vs. Yankees. All disagree with each other.

And make no mistake, LIV Golf has certainly caught the attention of the PGA Tour.

So what did some of those players who decided to leave the PGA Tour do? They started fighting back.

Like Pat Perez, the 46-year-old who makes no apologies for chasing more money while working less after 20 years and 515 PGA Tour starts.

Perez took one look at the terrain at this week’s PGA Tour event, the John Deere Classic, and it was like a buddy in the water.

“The Tour tried to force us all year and came up with bans and suspensions and all that,” he said. “And how did it go? Look how many guys are here. It didn’t work at all. So the main threats and all that kind of stuff, and how many big winners do you have here versus John Deere? It’s not even close.

“The Tour wants to keep talking about field strength…field strength is here. So whether everyone wants to talk about it or not, that’s how it is. The facts are the facts.

For this week, anyway, Perez is right. And it’s not close. The John Deere lost its only top-50 player, No. 25 Daniel Berger, who retired on Monday due to back problems that have plagued him for most of this year. The event has just six of the top 100, led by No. 58 Webb Simpson.

But, Perez has to pump the brakes. The LIV event features eight players in the top 50, including No. 17 Dustin Johnson and No. 19 Koepka. Certainly not stellar at this point. But, according to Perez, it puts the John Deere field to shame.

Some players no longer hide their distaste for the PGA Tour and how it handled the threat of LIV. Some responded by quitting the tour; Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel among them.

Several were asked what the Tour could have done, if anything, to prevent players from defecting.

“Listen to the players for once,” Reed said.

“At least could have taken the call from the LIV group,” Perez said. “At least take a meeting, see what it’s about. Monahan just shut it down from the start. I didn’t want to participate in a meeting, I didn’t want to listen to anyone. Maybe (it) would have been a little different. … He doesn’t listen to the players.

Wednesday’s word of the day for Garcia, Westwood and Martin Kaymer: Communication.

“Transparency is a big thing,” Kaymer said. “It would have been great to assess all the options that all tours have and that we can all decide together, that we can sit at the table as adults, find a solution that is not only good for individuals , for the entire tour , for all members.

Yet no one knows what LIV Golf will look like in three years. Was it the AFL, which forced a merger with the NFL? Or is it the original USFL, which died after three seasons? (In a related article, the next US stop for LIV Golf is Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.)

Some of those taking photos on the PGA Tour now haven’t shut the door on their return to the tour if it was allowed.

“I want to play the PGA Tour,” DeChambeau said. “It’s not for me to decide if I can or can’t play, but I would like to keep playing. We’ll see how it goes.”

Tom D’Angelo is a reporter for the Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at [email protected]

Michael C. Ford