Why do LIV golfers struggle to explain why they left the PGA tour?

BEDMINSTER, New Jersey. Last month, Justin Thomas, the world’s seventh-ranked men’s golfer, summed up the sentiments of PGA Tour players like himself who turned down lavish cash offers from rival Saudi-backed LIV Golf series to stay with the tour set.

Thomas just wants his former tour brethren to now team up with LIV Golf to say they jumped in for the money. “For example, I personally would get a lot more respect for it,” Thomas said. “But the more players keep saying and saying that this is done to improve the game, the more I get worried and annoyed about it.”

On Wednesday, Thomas, who made his comments on the “No Laying Up” podcast, would again be rebuffed by the words of three recent rebel tour defectors who appeared at a press conference for the Series LIV event, which begins Friday at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster in New Jersey.

“No, the money was not the deciding factor,” said Charles Howell III, 43, who once held the No. 1 spot. 15th in the world, but dropped to 1st. 169. Instead, Howell insisted that he join the splinter scheme because golf “could be a force for change and for good.”

Paul Casey, ranked 31st in the world, also lamented that the focus of successful recruiting efforts was on the lavish money paid to move off the ship.

“It’s much more,” said Casey, 45.

LIV Golf, whose main shareholder is the Saudi Arabian Sovereign Wealth Fund, has reportedly made upfront individual payments of between $90 million and $200 million to golf stars including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau.

But on Wednesday, Howell, Casey and Jason Cokrach, who left the PGA Tour earlier this month, shook their heads when asked bluntly if they had joined the new tour due to unexpected financial luck.

Cockrack said he’s “hesitating” on whether to forgo the PGA Tour until he’s tuned in to the first two LIVs of the year. It was then that he watched numerous golfers who were guaranteed eight-figure participation fees also prepare to share a whopping $25 million in prize money, including $120,000 for the last-place finisher who, like most others, were their main costs of participation. reimbursed. At the LIV near Portland, Oregon, journeyman Pat Perez, who made 80 shots in the final round and finished 29th, won $153,000 in the individual event and another $750,000 in the team event.

Kokrak, 37, watched these former comrades who were guaranteed tons of money regardless of their performance and concluded on Wednesday that he was drawn to the “fun atmosphere”.

“It invigorates me,” he said.

I bet.

About midway through Wednesday’s meeting with about 40 reporters, Howell, Casey and Cockrack were asked if they felt uncomfortable being the public face of an enterprise that critics called Saudi Arabia’s attempt to use golf to soften perceptions of its bleak human rights record. . Dozens of corporate sponsors turned down golfers who left the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf.

“I’ve been to the kingdom a couple of times and seen the change,” said Casey, who competed in the annual Saudi Arabian International Golf Tournament. “And I spoke to the people there.”

Casey went on to explain that he played golf with a 17-year-old girl and her father. “There was no such opportunity more than a couple of years ago,” he said. “It was such a positive experience for me.”

A follow-up question switched the subject to gay rights in Saudi Arabia. Did golfers want to solve this problem?

Casey, who for the past two decades has been one of the most media-cooperative, thoughtful and talkative golfers on the world’s golf tours, responded, “It’s not a topic I know enough about to talk about.”

Sitting to his right, Cockrack added, “Yes, I agree with Paul. I don’t know enough about this subject to talk about it.”

The responses were reminiscent of another question at the first LIV Golf Tour event in June, when players, who reporters observed generally gave the same answers to questions, were asked if they had received media training or if they had been trained on how to handle difficult questions.

Perez said: “Zero.”

Brooks Koepka, a four-time world champion, irritably replied, “I don’t know.”

After Wednesday’s press conference, as Casey was leaving the podium, he was approached by a New Jersey newspaper reporter who asked about recent protests by the families of the victims of the September attack. September 11, 2001, attacks that criticized the holding of a Saudi-backed event at Trump Golf Course, especially since it is located within 50 miles of where the World Trade Center once stood.

“My heart goes out to all those who were bereaved and affected by 9/11; I have no words to describe the pain and sadness behind this,” Casey said seriously.

Assistant for LIV Golf called me.

“I need to do a photo shoot,” Casey said.