Collin Morikawa dismisses Saudi-backed golf league: 'I'm all for the PGA Tour'
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PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Collin Morikawa dismissed the possibility of joining the rumored Saudi-backed golf league, saying he is “all for the PGA Tour” at his pre-tournament press conference for the Genesis Invitational.
“My entire life I've thought about the PGA Tour,” the World No. 2 and Southern California native said ahead of his hometown event. "I've thought about playing against Tiger, beating his records, whatever, something that might not even be breakable, but I've never had another thought of what's out there, right? I've never thought about anything else, it's always been the PGA Tour.
“Has [the rival league] opened up things for us as professional golfers, to open up things for the PGA Tour to look at what to do better? Absolutely. We've seen a lot of changes—some good, some bad, some that are still going to be amended I'm sure as time goes on. Right now, you look at the best players that I see and they're all sticking with the PGA Tour and that's where I kind of stay and that's where I belong. I'm very happy to be here.”
The two-time major winner joins Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka as high-profile players who have pledged their allegiance to the PGA Tour. Morikawa’s comments come amid another swell of rumors regarding the Greg Norman-led league, which is expected to launch sooner rather than later. In an appearance on the Stripe Show Podcast, tour player Kramer Hickok claimed 17 players have already signed up to play in the league, which he claims will launch this summer and feature 12-14 limited-field events—10 of which would be in the United States—with no cuts and massive guaranteed paydays.
Last month, the Saudi International, an Asian Tour event funded by the Norman-fronted LIV Golf Investments, lured a number of top players to the Middle East with lucrative appearance fees. Phil Mickelson, who told Golf Digest that the PGA Tour's "obnoxious greed" has him looking elsewhere, made the trip. So did Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Shane Lowry, Tony Finau, Tommy Fleetwood, Bubba Watson, Matthew Wolff, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, among others.
Talks of a challenger to the PGA Tour began at this tournament two years ago, when officials with ties to the Saudi government held a clandestine meeting with agents to pitch their vision for a new circuit that would offer players eye-popping sums. Morikawa said that he was not one of the first players approached but did eventually listen to a pitch and was frustrated by a lack of definite answers.
“I don't want to keep hearing it from other people saying ‘you need to go talk to this person, you need to do this, this is what they have, this is what they don't have.’ " Morikawa said. "Yeah, of course, if there were more details, maybe I would have thought about it more, maybe I would have given it more of a decision and I would have had to sit down and ask more questions. But it's hard to ask questions when you're not getting answers, either.”
Morikawa, who will be making his fourth start of this wraparound season and first since the Sentry Tournament of Champions, spoke candidly and confidently on a wide range of topics. He said he feels there are better uses of $50 million than the Player Impact Program, which saw him finish 11th and receive no bonus in its first year. He praised the atmosphere at the WM Phoenix Open and cited the event as a case study in how to bring new eyeballs to the game. And he seemed to call out his fellow players who have negotiated with the Saudi-backed venture for months without speaking on it publicly.
“We've all heard rumors of this date, this date, in the future—I'm ready for it,” Morikawa said. “Why not, right? Like we'll call them out, like what are they waiting for? I don't know. I saw something this morning that said someone had an interview with a player and there's other things said about players signing up. There still have been no names. Once again, we go back to evidence, right? Can we see concrete evidence of what's going on? If we can, then people can make decisions. It's an unknown, it's a hidden thing. For me, it's not enough.”