LIV Golf Invitational Series: Why players are taking 'colossal' money to join Saudi-backed circuit
Paul Casey became the latest former Ryder Cup player to join the LIV Golf Invitational Series this week; Paul McGinley reflects on the impact the Saudi-funded circuit is having on the global game and explains further possible changes within the sport going forward.
Last Updated: 04/07/22 8:40am
Anyone who says moving to the LIV Golf tour is about growing the game, because there's a new way of playing the game that has been missed and all that, I'd really question.
For me, the players that leave the tours leave because first and foremost the money is colossal. Although you may disagree, you can understand their justification of getting paid guaranteed huge amounts along with the opportunity to play less.
Paul Casey has obviously been injured since the early part of the year, missed all the major championships so far this year, so it's almost like an insurance policy being played out early.
He has obviously got a whole lot of money to go over to LIV and you can understand his decision, especially for someone who has got injuries and moving on in years. Bryson did that too, he said it was a "business decision", and he was probably referring to the fact he was coming back from and worried about a career-threatening injury.
The money is so huge and players are taking that, particularly the ones towards the second half of their careers. It's understandable, I get it, but I think the question going forward is going to be whether the players that go play LIV - and take the money - can then come back and play on the established tours again.
Are they allowed to take money off the table from the guys who have been loyal and stayed with the tour? That's the big question. From the players I spoke with on the range at the US Open and the Irish Open, their view is absolutely no way. As one player said to me, 'we can't allow these guys to 'double dip' by promoting a rival business and then come back to take money also off our table'.
Will the dispute end up in the courts?
I know I'm involved in the European Tour and I'm on the board but, speaking as a former Ryder Cup player and captain and speaking as a 25-year member of the European Tour, I see it very simply and concur with the views of many players: the European Tour is a collective. If you choose to leave that collective you should not still benefit from it.
We're a collective of professional golfers that are represented by an executive who puts on events and Tours for us and we play. If we choose to leave that collective, as these players have done, and try to build up a competitor that is going to hurt this collective, you can't then come back and play both sides of the fence.
The guys that have stayed loyal to the Tour are very, very strong. There's an increasing resolve to say 'it's not fair that these guys can go over there, hurt that collective and expect to come back and play our biggest events'.
Let's just say it ignites a court case and the players involved did win it, they'd come back and there would be a lot of animosity from the guys they left behind - that would make for a horrible atmosphere. If it does go to a court case we're moving to a situation where there's no-win for all.
There really is a big divide starting to appear now and it's really sad pro golf has come to this, all because of money and a business model that makes no sense financially.
Reasons to stay positive?
There's a lot of conjecture in the game at the moment, as we know, but we've got 14 of the top 15 players in the world playing at the Genesis Scottish Open this week.
It's the first time in the history of golf that we have a co-sanctioned event with the PGA Tour, where half of the field is from there and half from the DP World Tour. It's a big step, it's a big move forward, and there's going to be a lot of change in golf over the next year or two.
I honestly think at the end of it all, when things settle down again, golf will be the better for it. I know it's painful and it's difficult at the moment, but I think in general - in time - when things settle down, golf will be in a better place and that may well involve a positive change to its business model.
Watch the Genesis Scottish Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday with Featured Groups from 8am on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event, ahead of full coverage from 12.30pm.