This week's first event in the LIV Golf series could mark a watershed moment in the sport.
The PGA and European tours have been the only shows in town when it comes to the biggest events in the pro ranks (outside of the majors) in modern times, but that could be set to change.
While most of the top players have batted away the advances of LIV Golf, some big names have already made the jump. The likes of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, and Sergio Garcia took place in their event at Centurion Club in recent days, with Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed among those set to follow in the months ahead.
Of course, there are some major moral quandaries surrounding the decision to join this tour. The event is a clear attempt at sportswashing from Saudi Arabia, who have pumped a huge amount of cash into this venture in order to get it off the ground.
Whereas the PGA Tour needs to make a profit in order to operate, LIV Golf has no such concerns. After all, making money is nowhere near the top of their list in terms of what they want to achieve with this tour.
It is rumoured that Dustin Johnson was given a guaranteed $150million to attach himself to the brand, while Phil Mickelson is thought to have raked in $200million. That is before they even hit a ball.
As well as that, the prize money on offer at this week's tournament was absolutely obscene.
LIV Golf prize money a grim warning for PGA Tour
Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzl won the three-day tournament, taking home a cheque for $4million. It is the largest first placed prize in the history of golf. He also won an extra $750,000 for his part in winning the team event.
Compare that to the numbers below.
Charl Schwartzel won $4.75m today.
- More than the top 3 players at the 2021 Open
- More the entire purse of the next @LPGA major
- More than Jordan Spieth has earned in 15 @PGATOUR events this season
- Inside the top 150 in @DPWorldTour career money list
— Jamie Kennedy (@jamierkennedy) June 11, 2022
If you’re still wondering why guys were quick to join the LIV Tour,look no further than Charl Schwartzel. In three past 3 days,he made more money than he has for the previous six years combined on tour!
— Ryan Branham (@JustCallMeRyno) June 12, 2022
— Sean Hickey (instagram seanhickeya) (@seanhickey1) June 12, 2022
Getting that much money for winning a tournament is one thing, but that arguably will not be the most concerning aspect for the PGA Tour.
Instead, it is the amount granted to those who simply take part that will put them on edge.
Runner-up Hennie du Plessis made more money this week than the vast majority of PGA Tour players have all season.
Hennie du Plessis made more money ($2.1M) with his runner-up finish at the LIV event this week than 213 of 253 PGA Tour players have made so far this season (average number of starts: 15).
That's a problem.
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) June 11, 2022
With no cut in LIV Golf, even a +24 last placed finish is guaranteed to net you quite a pretty penny.
Former U.S. Am champ Andy Ogletree finished with a 75 after a tough week at the #LIV event. He finished at +24 and was 31 shots back of winner Charl Schwartzel for 3 rounds. He was last and earned $120,000.
— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) June 11, 2022
While it is still very early days for this Saudi venture and they are still severely lacking in star power, the PGA Tour has to be massively concerned with how this plays out in the years ahead.
LIV Golf has no broadcast deal, is being ignored by sponsors, and yet can offer this money. As mentioned above, other tours will not be able to compete with a competitor that has no interest in making profits.
Many of the top names in golf are standing firm in their commitment to the PGA Tour as things stand, but it will be interesting to see how long that lasts. In all, this is a very grim state of affairs.