Standouts of the LIV Golf Series have defended the upstart tour from new criticism, while Bryson DeChambeau says he expects eventual compromise with the PGA Tour.
The LIV Golf Chicago Invitational tees off on Friday at Rich Harvest Farms in suburban Sugar Grove, Illinois, with 48 players chasing a $4-million top prize from a $25-million purse in the fifth event of the inaugural season.
LIV Golf has caused turmoil in the golf world by luring away many of the PGA Tour’s biggest names with record prize money and fewer events, despite criticism the series acts as cover for a dismal Saudi human rights record.
The latest rebuke came on Thursday from US Senator Dick Durban of Illinois, who tweeted his unhappiness at the event being hosted in his home state.
“This weekend, a golf glove will try and cover a blood-stained hand as the LIV golf tournament comes to Chicago in the Saudi government’s continued, desperate attempt to clean up its image,” Durban wrote.
India’s Anirban Lahiri, who left the PGA Tour earlier this month, said LIV is doing good for the sport and host areas.
“We’re all just here to play golf,” Lahiri said. “What people have witnessed in terms of the golf speaks for itself. I’m not going to comment on anything political.
“There’s a lot of good happening, but no one is talking about it.”
Chile’s Joaquin Niemann defended his choice to leave for LIV, saying, “Once I got here, I realised it was the best decision I could have made.”
DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open winner, said the continuing controversy was “something that hopefully we’ll get figured out over the course of time.”
The PGA Tour has suspended players who jump to LIV Golf indefinitely, with stars such as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods saying they don’t want to see LIV players in PGA events.
An antitrust lawsuit by LIV players against the PGA is not set for trial until 2024.
In the meantime, DeChambeau sees a resolution between LIV and the PGA eventually, even with both sides hardened in their positions at the moment.
“In regards to the landscape of the game, it’s completely different now, and I think it’s ultimately for the better,” DeChambeau said. “People will see that over the course of time. It’s just going to take a little bit of time.”
DeChambeau said he wanted to see a LIV Series versus PGA Tour event.
“With the landscape and the way that things are going, I hope one day we can come to a compromise. I would love nothing more than that,” he said. “It would be fun to have what [American] football is doing … a Super Bowl sort of thing.’
DeChambeau sees some PGA changes for the 2022-2023 season that began on Thursday as prompted by LIV, including a minimum $500,000 for fully exempt players.
“Whenever there’s disruption in the world, no matter what it is, in the end it’s always a net positive. In a year or two, you’re going to see a lot of positive change,” he said.
“Over the course of time, they will come to a resolution. There has to be. It’s only in the best interest of the game of golf down the road.”
© Agence France-Presse