Over the last few weeks, the professional golf world has been turned upside down by a story extending well outside the proverbial ropes. Since forever, the PGA Tour has been golf’s most prestigious circuit and home to the world’s top players. A real, legitimate rival to the tour’s supremacy has never truly existed, before now.
Last weekend, 17 PGA Tour players teed it up at the LIV Golf International Series’ inaugural event played just outside of London. By now, you know the deal with the LIV Tour. If you haven’t been briefed, Jay Rigdon, a golf writer for Awful Announcing, did a great job of summing it up.
It is, as Rigdon writes, “a Saudi-backed sportswashing venture designed not to make money, but to launder an entire regime’s reputation over time.”
Essentially, the LIV Tour offered professional golfers the choice that has never been as easy to answer as we’d like it to be. It forced each of them to ask a question of themself: Do I value generational wealth more than my individual legacy? More simply put, is this amount of money worth the trouble it’ll cause me and mine?
For many, including the likes of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and others, the answer was yes, the money was worth it. So, those players (and 13 others) were suspended by the PGA Tour for making the decision to join LIV. A decision made presumably because they felt it was what was best for them and their families.
I guess I can’t blame the PGA Tour. Any rival to them would only mean unnecessary competition to their collective bottom line. So, even if the LIV Tour was funded by the 12 disciples and Ghandi, the PGA’s top brass wouldn’t be too thrilled about it. Other pro tours, like the European Tour, are fine with the PGA, because they aren’t offering real competition in terms of prize money for players.
The LIV Tour, on the other hand, is making its players wealthier than most any professional golfer on the planet. That spells danger for the PGA, and since Saudi Arabia is an objectively bad actor, that gives them the built-in reason to prevent any of its players from playing in LIV events.
I have no problem with the golfers who chose to bolt for huge paydays on the LIV Tour. I do, however, disagree with the decision they made. Disagreeing shouldn’t automatically lead to blacklisting. I don’t think any less of them now than I did a month ago, and that’s because I don’t look to my athletes for morality guidance. Nor should you.
Recent winner of the PGA Championship last month Justin Thomas summed it up well when he was asked about the exodus of players.
“People are entitled to choose as they wish. I don’t dislike (Dustin Johnson) now. I don’t think he’s a bad dude. I’m not going to treat him any differently. He’s entitled to choose as he wishes,” Thomas said. “It’s just so negative that you see it in everything. Sports, politics, whatever it is – if you disagree with someone, you just feel that you’re entitled to hate them and talk bad about them and just bash their decision. But everybody is entitled to their own opinion.”
LOCAL SPORTS NOTES
The 5th Annual Undefeated Warrior Anthony M Lanier II Foundation Football Camp is scheduled for Saturday, June 18 at Jenkins High School (1800 E DeRenne Ave.) from 8-10 a.m. Youth football players ages 4-14 can attend the free camp hosted by the former Jenkins football star. Lanier is a former NFL defensive end (Washington, Kansas City, New Orleans, San Diego) and current Canadian Football League player with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. All campers will receive an AML2 Foundation T-Shirt as well as lunch after the conclusion of the camp. More information about the foundation, Lanier and the camp can be found online at www.undefeatedwarrior.org and by calling 912-210-2719 or 912-224-4647.
After ending the month of May with an overall record of 23-27, the Atlanta Braves began the month of June with an eight game winning streak they sorely needed. Atlanta (31-27 before play on June 10) swept the Rockies and Athletics before taking on the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates last weekend. A large reason for the Braves’ recent success is shortstop Dansby Swanson. The 28-year-old began the season hitting .216 through his first 22 games … he hit .311 over his next 36 games. In Atlanta wins this season, Swanson is hitting .330 … in losses, he’s hitting .217. Ya think he matters much, maybe?
Benedictine product and starting pitcher at Vanderbilt Carter Holton put together a fantastic freshman season on the mound for the 2021 National Champions. Holton started 15 games (80 innings) and struck out 97 batters while posting a 3.14 ERA. Last week, Holton was named to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s Freshman All-American team for his efforts. Not too shabby for a guy who professional scouts said was “too short” to be a top draft pick out of high school (he chose Vanderbilt after declining a Brewers contract offer in the draft’s 19th round).
FOLLOW Travis Jaudon on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at travisLjaudon@gmail.com. Listen to him host Hot Grits Podcast, Savannah’s No. 1 sports podcast, with new episodes released each Tuesday.