Let me talk to my golf people here for a minute.
(Waits while room of 49ers, Giants, Warriors diehards clears the Jock Blog lounge . . . )
What are we going to do with this fine mess we’ve got on the links, guys and gals?
When the LIV Tour split our golf family apart in 2022, Paulie Mac kept asking me on the show: ‘What does this all mean? How do you feel about this?’
And I kept telling him the same thing: It’s a lose-lose. It stinks. The PGA Tour is a lesser entity, and we’re seeing guys’ hairy legs on the other Tour, with Greg Norman walking around blasting AC/DC and acting the fool.
Like I said, lose-lose.
He kept asking me: ‘Well, what’s gonna happen?’
And I would say: ‘What do you get when cross a rhinoceros and an elephant?’
(You guys were in elementary school, so you know the answer was: Hell-if-I-know, right?)
The best guess was that LIV would eventually fold. And Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith would come crawling back. Granted, they’d come crawling back with tens of millions of dollars falling out of their billfolds — but still, they’d come crawling back.
That was the best guess.
And then this week happened.
And everything changed.
The PGA Tour, after a year-plus of zealous preaching against the LIV Tour and its Saudi benefactors, after a year-plus of high-road moral lectures on dirty Saudi money, after a year-plus of harrumphing at 54-hole events with no cuts, and yes, after a year-plus of referencing the unspeakable tragedy of 9/11 as a reason to never do golf business with the Saudis . . . caved.
Or is caved even a strong enough word for the reprehensible hypocrisy displayed by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, who orchestrated the merge with the Saudi Public Investment Fund?
It’s one thing to fall in line with “sportswashing” – the buzzword of 2023 — where Saudi money runs big things like Newcastle United in the English Premier League, or Formula One racing. It’s another to use the Saudis as public villains never to be welcomed — then form a business partnership in the dark of night without telling your players. Or telling the 9/11 families, who called Monahan’s act a “betrayal.”
Where does this leave us as golf fans? I’ve already talked to a couple of colleagues who say they won’t watch the new product, which by the way has no name or schedule or plan for how to merge LIV players with PGA Tour players. Tour stalwarts like Rory McIlroy are left feeling like sacrificial lambs, in the words of Rors himself. Tiger Woods’ many words against LIV look meaningless. Concepts like “ethics” and “morals” get washed away in the name of the almighty dollar, in an instant. Monahan could only offer that players like McIlroy will be “rewarded for their loyalty”. Damn straight, you empty suit.
Breaking news: Money rules the world. There’s a reason why everyone from Pink Floyd to Cyndi Lauper to Puff Daddy sings about it. And with this move, Monahan and the PGA Tour made a bunch of very, very expensive lawsuits go away. My guess is that Monahan is willing to take the very significant heat and bet that most sports fans, a year from now, will be back to see the golf. That is, if Monahan survives the merge and doesn’t get beheaded by the players.
And as golf fans, we’re left to sort through the detritus. The super positive spin is that the best players in the world will be back together on the same stage, playing in the biggest events. The super negative spin is that the whole thing was handled terribly, Monahan is a world-class weasel and now you have to hold your nose to watch your golf, if you consider everything from 9/11 families to Saudi human rights.
So, we’re back where we started the Jock Blog. The whole thing stinks.