Evanson: Are we really just about money? LIV is banking on it
LIV Golf has become a fight over money and what it means to us — and I don't like it.
The Saudi-backed alternative golf tour, which kicked off June 9 in the United Kingdom, makes its U.S. debut June 30 at Pumpkin Ridge in North Plains. Much has been made of the new eight-tournament circuit, made up of mostly aging stars diving headfirst into the pot of Saudi gold at the end of their career rainbow, and even more has been made of those same pros' decision to discard their reputations and legacies in the process.
Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have been rumored to have gotten more than $30 million to tee it up, Dustin Johnson over $100 million, and 52-year-old Phil Mickelson more than $200 million to name a handful.
Additionally, 31-year-old Patrick Reed is making the move; 28-year-old Bryson DeChambeau is doing the same; and names such as Ricky Fowler and Brooks Koepka continue to swirl in the LIV winds as the event at Pumpkin Ridge creeps closer.
The fight is ultimately between the established and historical PGA Tour, and of course, the rebel-rousing newcomers using legal tender as the forbidden fruit. But indirectly, there's a divider being drawn between people carving a moral line in the sand, and those laughing at them for doing so.
Personally, I'm torn. I see the argument against aligning oneself with a Saudi regime that is inarguably complicit in atrocities against humankind, but at the same time, I understand the slippery slope of that stance without applying the same standard to countless other things you and I regularly do that can be linked to similarly unethical entities.
You have to pick your battles, but ultimately, that decision is up to you and damning others for making a different one feels disingenuous and, in a way, holier than thou.
Tolerance is a diminishing virtue in today's world, and in many cases by the same people who preach it. I may not agree with the idea of LIV Golf, the money behind it or the fraudulent motivating factors it and its participants lean on as a means of explaining the tour and the players' involvement, but at the same time, I appreciate their right to do something I simply would not: trade dignity for money, at the expense of the greater good.
The vast majority of golfers at the PGA Tour level didn't get there motivated by money, but rather by an intense desire to be the best. Sure, they've accumulated wealth as a result of their success, but it's not why they spent countless hours, years and in many cases decades honing their craft. They made those sacrifices for the competition, something they're trading for the guaranteed riches of LIV Golf.
People will tell you you'd do the same. They'll say, "If someone offered you $100 million, you'd be doing and saying the same thing Mickelson, Johnson, and the 48 other LIVers are doing in the face of the golf world's backlash."
And they'll also say, "Who wouldn't?"
But my question is less whether you or I would? But rather more why it would be so unexpected if we wouldn't?
This country hasn't always been so greedy. People sacrificed for the greater good.
Teamwork was a thing. Selflessness meant something. And patriotism was a sense of pride opposed to a punchline.
Getting yours has never been so hip and we seem to celebrate those looking out for number one.
There's nothing wrong with wanting more but getting it at the expense of others is now seemingly par for the course — no pun intended.
Phil Mickelson had an estimated worth of up to $400 million and made roughly $50 million per year before LIV Golf.
Dustin Johnson? $50 million.
Sergio Garcia? $70 million
And Ian Poulter can't get to social media fast enough to show you the latest addition to his exotic car collection that's said to be valued at $24 million.
So, LIV didn't make them rich — just richer. They get more of what they already had, thanks to the game of golf and the PGA Tour — you know, the two things with the most to lose with the watered-down version that could result from dividing the professional golf world between a legitimately competitive circuit and a high-priced exhibition.
Contrary to the talking points the "Saudi golfing soldiers" are selling, this is not good for the game, nor is it about them spending more time with their families or trying something new. It's about money, plain and simple. LIV has it, and those who want it have their wallets open wide.
But I'm not interested in LIV Golf or the players cashing their checks, and it has nothing to do with the money or their decision to take it. It's the idea that it's all that matters that has my feathers ruffled, and I wish that bothered more of you, too.
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