Will LIV Golf reduce the number of PGA Tour events such as the Travelers Championship?

Cromwell, Conn. – The Central Connecticut Traveler Championship, held on a golf course near the cornfields, celebrates its 70th anniversary this week, making it one of the oldest continuous PGA Tour tournaments. The tournament has changed names and venues over the decades, but in a small state with no professional franchise in one of the top four North American sports (NHL). Hartford Whalers passed away 25 years ago), Travelers have been a valuable mainstay of the Connecticut sports calendar.

It was also valuable to the PGA Tour, reliably drawing some of the biggest crowds on the tour. He is loved by golfers because of his homegrown approach, which features the players’ wives and children with personal attention, and this in turn has produced many outstanding winners such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson.

The 1995 winner was Greg Norman, then number 1. 1st male golfer in the world. Norman is the chief executive Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf serieswhich has stirred up the PGA tour attracting top golfers with guaranteed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. For two months upstart scheme threatened primacy The PGA Tour, and possibly historic tour events such as the Travelers, which, in addition to entertaining southern New England golfers, have attracted sponsorships that have resulted in over $46 million in donations to 800 charities.

The main beneficiary over the years has been the camp in northern Connecticut, which annually helps about 20,000 seriously ill children and their families and was founded by state resident, actor Paul Newman.

In the spotlight intensive showdown between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, whose main shareholder is the State Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, there have been sharp cash offers to already wealthy golfers – along with a plethora of geopolitical underpinnings – but unseen in the fight other related objects such as the coveted golf tournament in Connecticut.

Could LIV Golf, which has scheduled eight events this year, including five in the United States, end up turning upside down or shrinking the Traveler Championship and other 30-odd PGA Tour events like this across the country? Already Mickelson and Johnson, recently suspended from the tour along with all the other defectors from LIV Golf, went missing this week. Mickelson, 52, might not have played, but Johnson, 2020 championenthusiastically promised to return to Connecticut in February.

Standing on a hillside in a fan gallery overlooking the 18th hole during the first round of the Travelers on Thursday, Jay Hibbard of Woodstock, Conn., said Johnson was bored “but not that much.”

“Dustin took the money and made a choice, but I didn’t come here to root for any one golfer,” Hibbard, 39, said. “Most golf fans come for the atmosphere and to see great players up close. And there are plenty of other big champions here this week.”

Standing nearby, Mike Stanley of Plainville, Connecticut, said, “It’s a little depressing to see everything split up because I think it’s natural to want all the best guys to play together. But there are still a bunch of top guys – today I followed Rory McIlroy and then Scotty Sheffler.”

Scheffler and McIlroy are ranked first and second in the Men’s World Rankings, and they are joined by four other top 15 golfers in the Travelers category. In contrast, no player who has taken part in the LIV Golf Tour is ranked among the top 15 players in the world.

In the players’ locker room this week, Sahit Tigala, a 24-year-old PGA Tour rookie, said that players his age are of the same opinion: they’re loyal to the PGA Tour.

“I have a humble upbringing,” said Tigala, “and I feel that money has lost its value. It just seems like the million dollars that a lot of guys are making from this tour is being thrown around like it’s nothing, right?”

Asked if he was worried about the future of PGA Tour tournaments like the Travelers, Tigala shook his head.

“This tour has a history and a legacy that the young guys wanted to be a part of,” said Tigala. “The new tour has no status; you’re literally just gambling.”

He added: “You can’t buy mental clarity and play with a clear conscience.”

Joanna Aversa of Waterbury, Connecticut, who visited her first travelers, wondered if LIV Golf’s entry into the men’s golf market might increase the sport’s appeal.

“In the past, the golf community was considered very elitist,” she said. “Maybe with some golfers coming out because of these big contracts, we could get a whole new wave of fans who are more comfortable because they don’t have to know all the best people and stuff like that. They can just go out and play good golf and have fun.”

Financially, Travelers officials said the event was on solid footing. Nathan Grube, tournament director, said ticket sales for this year’s event exceeded those for the 2019 tournament, when the pandemic did not restrict Travelers for the last time. The corporate hospitality tents are sold out. With all net proceeds going to charity, total donations, which stood at more than $2.2 million last year, are expected to rise.

“It’s a good place to be right now,” Grube said.

The Hole in the Wall camp for sick children, founded by Newman in 1988, opened this year on the same day as the first tour in Travelers. The organization has programs with hospitals that bring the bedside summer camp experience to dozens of locations across New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. All programs dedicated to helping children with cancer and other diseases such as sickle cell anemia, blood and metabolic disorders are provided free of charge.

“Being a major beneficiary of the Traveler Championship has allowed us to expand our reach,” Ryan Thompson, camp communications director, said Friday. “This is much more than a golf tournament; it’s a source of community pride in all he contributes.”