In a season in which golf has experienced a civil war like no other, it was somehow fitting that one of the sport’s traditionalists and global figures emerged as the victor.
Rory McIlroy has been an outspoken critic of the perceived money grab of those quitting the PGA Tour to join the money-spinning franchise instead.
And so it’s ironic that the Irishman banked $18 million for his victory at the TOUR Championship – considerably more than any LIV Golf member has earned thus far.
In some regard, it’s surprising that McIlroy and his fellow PGA Tour pros care so passionately about the current situation. After all, the defection of Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and co improves their chances of winning some of golf’s major tournaments – for which the LIV players are barred from entering. Those include The Masters and the PGA Championship, with the odds for the sports betting online at Betfair confirming that those that have stayed loyal like McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas are shorter-priced favorites to win than they might otherwise be.
Any betting preview that does analyze tournaments in which Liv Golf’s stars are able to compete against their PGA Tour rivals has to also consider the general lack of golf that the new franchise thrives on – yes, LIV players can make more money while playing less, but a lack of competitive sharpness could affect them as an event reaches its business end.
Not that they’ll get much in the way of sympathy from McIlroy, mind you. “I believe in the game of golf, I believe in this tour in particular, I believe in the players on this tour,” he said in emphatic fashion after listing the TOUR Championship trophy.
Since LIV Golf launched with their first event in June 2022, they have largely gone under the radar in terms of wider mainstream interest.
Having been suspended from the PGA and DP World Tours, those involved have found themselves out in the golfing wilderness – albeit a wilderness where there’s huge pots of money to be won.
But the competitive spirit surely still rages inside, and the LIV players that compete in the BMW PGA Championship in September – their bans have been temporarily lifted while an appeal is heard – will surely want to get one over on those that have been, for the most part, so critical of their behavior.
McIlroy himself has said it will be hard for him to ‘stomach’ playing alongside at least 18 of the LIV rebels, which includes his old friends like Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. It’s thought that sentiment will be shared by those who have remained true to golf’s traditional tours over chasing easy prize money supplied by the often-criticised Saudi Arabian government.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy just announced the launch of a new golf league — The TGL.— Front Office Sports (@FOS) August 24, 2022
In partnership with the PGA Tour, the TGL will have:
▪️ Six teams of three
▪️ 15 Monday night matches
▪️ First-of-its-kind, tech-infused venues
The TGL tees off January 2024 ⛳️ pic.twitter.com/0K3LFou5ss
The Irishman, now on the PGA Tour board, has acknowledged the risks posed by LIV Golf to the landscape of the sport, and that’s why he and Tiger Woods – who reportedly turned down a huge sum offered by LIV to stay with the PGA – plan to launch the interactive TGL league, a concept in which players will compete inside a virtual arena in a bid to attract a younger audience.
Whether it works, only time will tell. But one thing that is for sure is that global stars like McIlroy are going absolutely nowhere.