And in one fell swoop, the resistance of the PGA Tour was broken. Photo: CNBC
Here are the soaring principles. That's the PGA Tour's not-too-subtle attempt to portray LIV Golf renegades as mercenaries involved in legitimizing the bloodthirsty Saudi regime. Because when faced with a stark choice between taking Riyadh's billions and keeping their morals, the main tours decide that the morally justified path is overrated. So, presenting themselves as decent brokers fighting a rotten plot to split golf in two, they decided that the simpler solution was essentially to let the Saudis annex the sport. Hypocrisy is rarely so cowardly.
The joint announcement by the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV that they are coming together “under one umbrella” funded by the £500 billion Saudi Public Investment Fund marks a watershed in the takeover of sports by the state. It is a signal that resisting the Saudis' unlimited sovereign wealth is ultimately futile. Their logical next step, after playing the destroyers in the LIV experiment, is to completely devour golf. And if Jay Monahan of the PGA Tour is willing to put aside his righteous indignation and let it happen, what hope is there for those who consciously object?
Rory McIlroy must be wondering why this bothers him. At one point, he is honored as the savior of golf, putting his honesty above LIV's blandishments. Secondly, he is the butt of social media ridicule with one meme yelling, “Missed several hundred million dollars and haven’t won a major tournament in almost a decade. But he has morals! Just think of all the heartbreak this political split has already brought to McIlroy: all the distractions from the Majors, all the lost friendships with his Ryder Cup teammates. What was all this for when his ally Monahan had just decided after so much arrogance to take the Saudi Riyals anyway?
This is an amazingly shameless act that makes Donald Trump look like a real clairvoyant. Last July, the 45th President wrote on his Pravda social network: “All those golfers who remain loyal to the very disloyal PGA in all its various forms will pay a heavy price when the inevitable merger with the LIV comes and when you receive Nothing but a big thank you from PGA officials who make millions of dollars a year. If you don't take the money now, you won't get anything after the merger, and you'll only say how smart the original signers were.”
In almost every detail, this is exactly what happened. For in golf you won't win anything if you become a model of virtue. McIlroy could also accept the £320m offer reputedly from LIV. The fact that he owes little to his loyalty to Monahan and his belief that the PGA Tour, as a powerful competitive counterpoint to the gaudy exhibition-style alternative to the LIV, will be right. But, unfortunately, he chose the wrong sport for idealism.
Golf is real politics, not doubt. If you need a convincing illustration of this, go back to last year's Canadian Open, where Monahan had the audacity to say about players cashing Saudi checks, “I think you have to live under a rock not to know there are serious consequences. . Two families close to me lost loved ones during the September 11 attacks. I would ask any player who has left, or any player who is considering leaving, “Have you ever had to apologize for being on the PGA Tour?”
How empty, how full of false self-satisfaction these words now seem. How dare Monahan call on the relatives of those who died on 9/11 to do the honor he so defiantly refused? So many players have given up on LIV and today they can only watch helplessly as minted rebels get a free pass back into their ranks.
What the tours did in confirming that the PIF was the “exclusive investor” in their “new organization” was to punish loyalty and reward apostasy. Just look who is most pleased with this perverted disposition: one Phil Mickelson, once denounced by McIlroy as “naive, selfish, selfish, ignorant.” Just this week, Mickelson taunted his nemesis, claiming that players would not tolerate McIlroy being on any of the LIV teams “because they have to deal with all his nonsense.” Now, full of gloating on the PGA Tour, ending up on the side of the Saudis, he proclaims an “amazing day.”
This is a cruel reckoning for those who thought there was still room for honesty in sports. , integrity and consistency of argumentation. It's a reminder that Saudi Arabia's coffers are so deep that they can make even the most dedicated critics turn into insolent ferrets. But above all, this is a day to challenge the faith of the PGA Tour, which has taken a clear line of ethics and made its players stick to it. Then, once the price was right, they not only crossed that line, they jumped over it in a rush. In the clash of morality with cold financial reality, the results are worse than ever.