Any flimsy hopes foolish idealists might have harbored that the PGA Tour’s stance against Saudi-based LIV Golf had anything to do with a last vestige of principle in the sport has exploded into a few billion pieces of silver.
It’s all about the money, silly. It’s always a question of money.
These are also stop words. The empty words spoken by hollow men like Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, who once scorned those who would take a regime’s blood money up to their necks in human rights abuses. And who has now jumped into bed with it.
Monahan deserves some credit for his front, I suppose. The same goes for Keith Pelley, the general manager of the DP World Tour.
If they can look their limbs in the eye after this astonishing volte-face, it is because they do indeed have a severe constitution. Monahan’s U-turn is particularly spectacular. Not so long ago, he condemned the LIV Golf defectors in emotional terms, citing Saudi involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and saying that “when it comes to the 9/11 families, I have two families who are close. to me who have lost loved ones, so my heart goes out to them”.
Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, spoke empty words about the Saudi regime
Rory McIlroy won admiration for his anti-LIV stance and stood up to his opposition
Newcastle United have been transformed into a flattering vassal state (above: Yasir Al-Rumayyan, left)
I wonder what those families think of Monahan now?
Everything we were told we should hate about LIV we will now be told is wonderful. Everything we were told was dirty, sleazy, vulgar, mercenary and shameful about LIV, now we’ll be told that’s the way to grow in the game.
The R&A released a statement saying they looked forward to working with the “new entity,” which made the merged PGA and LIV tours look like something out of Revenge of the Sith. Which was appropriate.
The rest of us will just have to put up with that sick feeling in our stomachs about a sport whose management has abrogated all responsibility for anything but making money. It’s no use wringing your hands, though. It has always been so.
A penny for the thoughts of some of the top golfers who resisted the riches offered by LIV because Monahan told them they owed it to the game not to default.
A penny for the thoughts of Rory McIlroy, too, who has garnered so much admiration for his voluble stance against LIV and who has spoken out against his opposition. Where is it?
The reality is that golf is just the latest domino to fall in Saudi Arabia’s nascent bid to use sport to eradicate its abuses, mass executions, treatment of women and crushing of freedom of expression.
Newcastle United have already been transformed into an obedient and flattering vassal state, but even the part of the fan base that revels in calling themselves the Saudi Mags may now be starting to realize that it is a toy, a pawn in a much, much bigger game. .
The merger shows it was always about the money (above: LIV CEO Greg Norman, right)
LIV Golf players pictured ahead of the start of their second season in Mayakoba, Mexico in February
Golf is the latest domino to fall in Saudi Arabia’s bid to use the sport to stamp out its abuses
Sportwashing is in fashion. Bloody diets are associated with beautiful football and beautiful footballers. From now on, it will be inextricably linked to all the wonders of golf and all of its best players.
Saudi blood money is buying up the sport and the pace of its acquisitions is accelerating. Cristiano Ronaldo was bought to play in the Saudi league, as was Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema. Maybe Lionel Messi will be next now that he’s left Paris Saint-Germain.
The answer to where the sport goes from here seems to be – where Saudi Arabia and its de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, want it to go.
The sport is open to the highest bidder and that usually means a repressive Gulf state.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, which owns Newcastle, earlier this week announced it was taking control of four of the kingdom’s top football clubs, including Ronaldo’s Al Nassr. It will now own 75% of Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr and Al Hilal.
More and more stars, lured by extravagant salaries like those paid to Ronaldo and Benzema, are likely to move to the Saudi Professional League and more and more clubs are likely to fall under Saudi influence.
As for the Premier League, two of the top four – Manchester City and Newcastle – are already owned by repressive oil states. Manchester United’s fate is unknown.
The direction of travel is obvious, however. Just follow the money.
LIV GOLF TIMELINE
- June 9, 2022: LIV Golf held its inaugural event in England, prompting the PGA Tour to suspend all members who participated in the rival event.
- August 2022: Phil Mickelson and 10 other LIV golfers have filed an antitrust complaint against the PGA Tour in response to their suspensions. The plaintiffs accused the PGA of using an illegal monopoly to stifle trade.
- October 2022: The PGA is filing its countersuit against the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which funds LIV Golf. PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan is named in the lawsuit.
- January 2023: The PGA files a petition, claiming the PIF interfered with its contracts by enticing players to join the upstart league.
- June 2023: LIV Golf and the PGA Tour decide to merge, ending their competing lawsuits.