Souhan: The spirit of golf is alive on the PGA Tour and dead in Saudi Arabia

We have no obligation to call sporting events or places as their masters call them.

Gopher’s football stadium is “The Bank”.

The Metrodome has always been “The Dome”.

Williams Arena is, was and always will be “The Barn”.

So when we refer to “The LIV Golf Invitational Series”, we should just call it “Death Golf”.

LIV Golf is a Saudi production, backed by the country’s government, designed to bribe the world’s best golfers, making them a threat to the PGA Tour. Outside of the Olympics, it’s the world’s greatest attempt at “sportswashing,” when a nation whitewashes its image through supposedly endearing competition.

Saudi Arabia would like you to forget its history of human rights violations and that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

The first event in the LIV series will take place at the Centurion Golf Club in London next weekend. The series won’t directly compete – this year – with the 3M Minnesota Open, which is scheduled for July 21-24 at TPC Twin Cities, but it could compete with the 3M in future years, and it could offer a competition this year at the choice of the players. where and when they want to compete.

After a series of denials and obfuscations, PGA Tour star Dustin Johnson has signed, joining Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na, Charl Schwartzel, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.

The PGA Tour has issued warnings that members who participate in LIV golf tournaments will face severe penalties, but it did not specify those penalties.

Longtime golf writer Jason Sobel, now with Action Network, compared LIV Golf to the Ice Capades for figure skaters: a sports tour that’s not so much about competition as it is about fame and entertainment.

LIV Golf will offer massive scholarships and guarantees. That’s why it’s so appealing to golfers, and such an ugly concept to serious fans.

What is unique about the PGA Tour among American professional sports is that players must perform to earn a living, retain their Tour card and qualify for the majors. There are no guaranteed contracts.

LIV offers guarantees. Its events will begin with $25 million in prize money, including $20 million for individual golfers and an additional $5 million for teams. There will be 48 players at each event, organized into 12 teams.

Players won’t have to make the cut and the last place golfer wins $120,000. There are also credible rumors that LIV is offering massive bonuses to amateurs looking to turn pro on their circuit.

At the PGA Championship, Tiger Woods offered a perspective you’d like to believe most top competitors share. “I understand different points of view, but I believe in legacies,” he said in May. “I believe in major championships. I believe in big events, in comparisons with historical figures from the past. There’s a lot of money here. The Tour is growing. But you have to go out there and win it.”

If you’re an average pro, or an amateur, or an older golfer who no longer believes you can win a major, the LIV money could be intoxicating. Rory McIlroy acknowledged the appeal even saying he wasn’t interested.

“So somebody who’s not guaranteed their Tour card next year, another entity comes in and says, ‘We’ll guarantee you that amount for three years, plus you’re playing for a ton more prize money. , and you play fewer events, you can spend more time with your family,” McIlroy said this week. “I mean, every time you sit down and watch some of these things, you know, it’s very appealing to some of these guys who are in that position.”

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, when asked about Khashoggi’s murder at an event in London on Wednesday to promote the new league, actually said: “We all make mistakes.”

LIV Golf is likely to last because of these sorts of rationalizations and virtually unlimited money.

I prefer watching the Ice Capades.