While watching Rory McIlroy win the PGA Championship (FedEx Cup) on Sunday in Atlanta, I was reminded of that frank charitable warning a professor gave us at the start of a college semester.
The Northern Irish, who trailed by six strokes heading into the final round, made a stunning comeback. He delivered a 66 card, 4 under the par, and took advantage of Scotty Scheffler’s collapse to finish the season at number one in the rankings and pocket the stylish 18 million purse that accompanied him.
Poor Scheffler, who has spent 24 of the past 25 weeks topping the leaderboard and winning the Masters title in the spring, picked the worst times to have a bad day in the office. His 73 card (3 strokes above par) earned him second place and a purse of 5.75 million. So he left 12.25 million on the table.
So Rory McIlroy was crowned FedEx Cup champion for the third time in his career, which is pretty impressive. However, in lifting the trophy, the most ardent defender in the American circuit could not ignore the fact that the list of his opponents is significantly different from what it was just three months ago.
When 2020 season champion Dustin Johnson accepted 125 million to jump the fence and join the Saudi Arabia Leaf Championship in early June, all the reflectors and almost all the shame were directed at him.
How could one of the best golfers on the planet and son-in-law of Wayne Gretzky, no matter how much he offered, agree to associate himself with a totalitarian regime that violates human rights and freaks out, on foreign soil, the journalists he resents?
Just because he made a birth appeal for the Saudi ring in February, Phil Mickelson has been considered an outcast by his peers.
Within days of announcing Dustin Johnson’s departure, Mickelson officially joined the first wave of defectors. Before he hit one ball and despite the fact that he was at the end of his career, the LIV circuit leaders awarded him a contract worth 200 million.
In my June column on the subject, I predicted that recruiting for the LIV Tournament would get easier and easier over time. And after seeing a number of fellow golfers allied with the Saudis, PGA golfers were often concerned about their reputation or about ethical considerations such as
sports washing or respect for human rights.
Events have changed. Dozens of PGA Tour players quickly switched their jackets, including big names like Patrick Reed, Abraham Anser, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen and Bryson DeChambeau. By doing the count, we now see that over 20% of the top 40 players on the planet have defected. no thing! And it’s not over.
The PGA house is burning.
Despite the extraordinary meeting of players on the American circuit that took place last week and was moderated by Tiger Woods, we learned on Sunday that another wave of departures is about to happen. Emerging young talents such as Mito Pereira and Joaquin Neiman will also be leaving the PGA, as will veterans Mark Leishman, Harold Varner and Cameron Triangle.
A few weeks ago, world number two Cameron Smith was added to the list of players tempted by the unlimited financial resources of Saudi promoters. This news had the effect of a stab in the heart for the PGA leaders, who are desperately trying to retain their best talent.
However, even with the increase in scholarships, it is hard to see how Americans will be able to compete. It is clear that the LIV circle is not looking for profitability and its promoters are directly related to the hundreds of billions of dollars from the country’s economic development fund.
In addition to the pharaonic contracts granted to players, the total portfolios of tournaments
Normal The LIV Tour is 30% higher (25 million) than the PGA Championships. The player who gets last place is still guaranteed $120,000.
What is unfolding before our eyes is absolutely amazing. Less than a year ago, the PGA Tour was seen as an unwavering international sporting institution. However, it only took a few weeks for it to become a kind of house of cards.
To turn everything upside down, that was enough for the leaders of a totalitarian country that needed hidden power (called soft power In international relations) it was decided to spend a few billion. Thus they have captured a large portion of the best talent on the planet. And frankly, at the stage we’re in, it’s very hard to see how this bleeding can be stopped.
Let Rory McIlroy take a good look around you. Left, right, forward and backward. Because on the same date next year, there might be two or three who won’t be there.
Perhaps the leaders of sports leagues such as the ATP, WTA, or some professional boxing body should pay close attention to what is happening in the world of golf.
It is clear that the recipe for the Saudis can easily be replicated.