LIV Golf Updates
Report: Carlos Ortiz withdraws name from LIV golfers' antitrust suit against the PGA Tour - LIV Golf updates
Chris Trotman/LIV Golf
The LIV 11 that filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour on Aug. 3 is now the LIV 10. According to multiple reports, Carlos Ortiz has withdrawn himself from the litigation
“Carlos does not want to be involved in any legal battles,” Carlos Rodriguez, Ortiz’s manager, told the Associated Press via text. “He is thankful for the opportunity he had to play on the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour the last few years.”
Ortiz joined LIV ahead of its second event at Pumpkin Ridge outside Portland, Ore., and was subsequently suspended after playing in the tournament. Ortiz also played in the LIV event at Trump Bedminster two weeks ago. In his two LIV starts, Ortiz has made $3.175 million. During the 2020-21 season on the PGA Tour, he made $2,682,104 in 28 starts.
The remaining players involved in the suit, all suspended by the PGA Tour after their participation in LIV Golf events, include Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Abraham Ancer, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Uihlein. The other three players in the lawsuit—Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones—also are attempting to receive a temporary restraining order that would allow them to play the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which begin on Thursday at the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis. The TRO hearing is scheduled for Aug. 9 at 1 p.m. local time in San Jose, Calif.
Gooch, Swafford and Jones all were ranked inside the top 125 on the FedEx Cup points standings. Six other LIV golfers were also inside the top 125 but have not taken legal action to try and force their way into the playoffs. —Ryan Herrington
Hearing date set for Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones seeking right to play PGA Tour's playoffs
A hearing is set for August 9 at 4 p.m. ET in California for Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones, who are all seeking a temporary restraining order to play next week's FedEx Cup Playoff event in Memphis, which begins two days later.
On Wednesday, a 105-page complaint was filed by 11 LIV Golf players essentially challenging their respective suspensions by the PGA Tour for defecting. Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau are among those behind the lawsuit. Gooch, Swafford and Jones are part of that lawsuit but are the three who broke out and are attempting to earn the right to play in the playoffs for as long as they are eligible. All three would have qualified for the postseason had they not been suspended.
Just last week the PGA Tour created a FedEx Cup points list based on "eligibility" which removed players suspended by the tour, including the aforementioned three. The top 125 players from the eligibility list are those who will qualify for the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis.
"To allow reentry into our events compromised the tour and the competition, to the detriment of our organization, our players, our partners and our fans," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan wrote to players in a memo on Wednesday. "The lawsuit they have filed somehow expects us to believe the opposite, which is why we intend to make our case clearly and vigorously." —Jay Coffin
Phil Mickelson was suspended by PGA Tour in March for recruiting players to LIV, banned for 2 years
AUGUST 3: Phil Mickelson had already been suspended by the PGA Tour back in March prior to his defection to LIV Golf, according to a lawsuit Mickelson filed against the tour on Wednesday.
An antitrust claim made by Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and nine other LIV Golf members against the tour disclosed that Mickelson received disciplinary action for, among other things, attempting to recruit members to the Saudi-backed circuit. In the fallout of his controversial comments about Saudi Arabia and leveraging the tour, Mickelson said he was taking a personal leave of absence from the game during this time.
“On March 22, 2022, the Commissioner suspended Plaintiff Mickelson (with the opportunity to apply for reinstatement in May of 2022) for, among other alleged reasons, 'attempting to recruit players to join [LIV Golf],'” reads the complaint. “Following an appeal, the appeals committee (a three-person committee comprised of members of the Tour Policy Board) affirmed the Commissioner’s two-month suspension. On June 20, 2022, Mr. Mickelson applied for reinstatement from the two-month suspension. The Tour denied his request, stating that Plaintiff Mickelson violated Tour regulations by participating in the LIV Golf London Invitational. In addition to denying his request for reinstatement, the Tour extended Plaintiff Mickelson’s suspension, forbidding him from seeking reinstatement to play professional golf with the Tour until March 31, 2023.”
The complaint says that the tour then extended the suspension for Mickelson’s participation in the LIV Golf Portland event, "deferring even the mere opportunity to apply for reinstatement until after March 31, 2024.”
“Mr. Mickelson’s unlawful two-year suspension from the PGA Tour has caused him irreparable professional harm, as well as financial, and commercial harm,” the claim continues. “The Tour’s unlawful suspensions are denying Mr. Mickelson the right he has earned to play in events on the Tour, to earn compensation playing on the Tour, and to have the opportunities that come with such play. The Tour’s suspension has denied Mr. Mickelson the right to the platform and the public exposure provided by playing on the Tour.” —Joel Beall
Former President Trump to play in LIV pro-am ahead of event at his Bedminster course
JUNE 27: The expected became official on Wednesday as LIV Golf officials confirmed former President Donald Trump will be playing in Thursday’s pro-am ahead of the LIV Invitational event at his Bedminster, N.J., course.
Trump, an avid golfer, will play in a foursome with his son, Eric, and LIV golfers Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. The pro-am is not open to the public.
Two Trump-owned courses are hosting events as part of Saudi-backed series in 2022; Trump Doral in Miami will be the site of the upstart circuit’s season finale in October.
Given his connection to the LIV Golf series, it’s no surprise that Trump has been promoting the tour of late, stating that players should be grabbing the guaranteed money being offered before it is too late.
Trump Bedminster was in line to host the 2022 PGA Championship, but the PGA of America decided to most the location of the major shortly after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capital. The PGA was instead played this past May at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. —Ryan Herrington
LIV golfers suspended by the PGA Tour officially ineligible for FedEx Cup Playoffs
JULY 26: Players suspended by the PGA Tour for playing in LIV Golf events are now officially ineligible for the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan informed players in a memo Monday that the tour’s policy board had approved the creation of a “eligibility points list” for the upcoming Playoffs that removes all players suspended for competing in LIV events. It’s the top 125 players from this list who qualify for the upcoming FedEx St. Jude Championship and who will retain their tour membership for the 2022-23 season.
“While the new list will not take the place of the official FedEx Cup points list, it will provide clarity for players and fans alike in regard to tournament eligibility,” the memo notes. The eligibility list ensures suspended tour members “do not negatively impact other players’ tournament eligibility, positioning on the priority rankings or eligibility to compete in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
The memo, sent out ahead of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, the penultimate regular-season event on the 2021-22 schedule, shows that the No. 125 player on the eligibility list is Stephan Jaeger, who ranks No. 133 on the regular-season points list. Webb Simpson, No. 125 on the official FedEx Cup list, is No. 117 on the eligibility list. Eight players inside the top 125 of the official FedEx Cup—Talor Gooch, Abraham Ancer, Matt Jones, Brooks Koepka, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Hudson Swafford and Matthew Wolff—do not appear on the eligibility list. Two additionally players, Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell III, inside the top 125 are scheduled to play in this week’s LIV Golf event in New Jersey. Presumably, they will be dropped from the eligibility list next week if they do play at Trump Bedminster.
The memo states: “We have taken steps to ensure that at the conclusion of the FedEx Cup regular season and FedEx Cup playoffs, any suspended players will not negatively impact bonus money distributions to you. You will be awarded bonus money based on your final position on the FedEx Cup playoffs and eligibility points list; suspended members will be awarded bonus money based on their final position on the official FedEx Cup points list.” —Ryan Herrington
LPGA commissioner says she'd 'take the call' if Greg Norman wants to talk
JULY 22: LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan told The Times of London that she would “take the call” if LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman ever wanted to talk to her about the LPGA.
“It’s my responsibility to evaluate every opportunity,” Marcoux Samaan said in the report. “I would engage in a conversation if it would achieve our aim of promoting women’s golf but there needs to be input from players and sponsors. There’s a lot of factors to consider before we do business with LIV Golf.”
Marcoux Samaan is clearly aware of the angst among LIV Golf and the PGA Tour in the men’s game and wants to avoid any situation like that if possible. The women already have a six Ladies European Tour events sponsored by Aramco, the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Company, and three top players from Europe are sponsored by Golf Saudi.
The piece ended with Marcoux Samaan saying that she “remains bullish about the future” and that “working together is always better than a fractured organization.” —Jay Coffin
Charles Barkley to play in pro-am at Trump Bedminster as he weighs LIV Golf offer
JULY 21: Charles Barkley met with LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman on Wednesday night amid rumors that he is considering a broadcast position with the Saudi-backed circuit.
According to the New York Post, the NBA Hall of Famer—who has dabbled in golf broadcasting with TNT’s “The Match” exhibitions—confirmed that he will be at next week’s LIV Golf event at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., where he will be participating in the pro-am.
Earlier this month Barkley joined golf personalities Drew Stoltz and Gary McCord on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio to discuss a potential move to the fledgling golf organization, saying he would be “foolish” not to take a meeting given the outlandish money potentially on the table. However Barkley said the jump could cost him his job on TNT’s popular “Inside the NBA” show.
“I have no idea how TNT is going to respond,” Barkley said. “I don’t even know if they’ll let me do it. I might have to resign from TNT.”
“Some type of broadcasting would be fun. But if I’m gonna have to lose TNT and lose my sponsors, it will have to be something crazy numbers-wise. I’m taking this meeting, I got no idea what Greg’s gonna say to me, but if I’m going to lose TNT and my commercials, it will have to be a ridiculous number for me to move on.”
According to the New York Post, Barkley is currently in a three-year, $30 million deal with Turner Sports.
The development comes days after LIV Golf signed David Feherty to its broadcast team. —Joel Beall
Stenson tried to keep Ryder Cup post after LIV Golf jump
JULY 20: Henrik Stenson confirmed in a statement that he is defecting to LIV Golf following Wednesday's announcement that he had been stripped of his European Ryder Cup captaincy, while claiming he made efforts to keep the honorary role.
Stenson, who had long been rumored as a possible LIV Golf signee, originally distanced himself from the fledgling circuit earlier this year amid fallout from Phil Mickelson's controversial quotes about the Saudi-backed group. When named head of the 2023 European Ryder Cup team in March, the 2016 Open champ made multiple assurances in his introductory press conference that he would not jump leagues.
However, Stenson lost his captaincy Wednesday amid reports he is the latest to join LIV Golf. On social media, Stenson stated he will be playing in the next LIV Golf event in New Jersey, yet said he believed he could remain in his Ryder Cup position.
"As many of you will have already seen, unfortunately my decision to play in LIV events has triggered Ryder Cup Europe to communicate that it is not possible for me to continue in my role as Ryder Cup captain,” Stenson wrote. “This is despite me making specific arrangements with LIV Golf, who has been supportive of my role as captain, to ensure I could fulfill the obligations of the captaincy. While I disagree with this decision for now it is a decision that I accept."
The DP World Tour and PGA of America have consistently indicated those who move to LIV Golf won’t be allowed to participate in the Ryder Cup. With five of the 12 members of the 2021 European Ryder Cup going to LIV along with Stenson there is worry about what could happen to the biennial event. Later in his statement, Stenson noted the concern as a “shame” and made a plea for the governing bodies to reverse their decision. —Joel Beall
LIV Golf unveils last three players in Bedminster field
JULY 20: Well, the field is finally set for the third LIV Golf series event next week and Henrik Stenson, Charles Howell III and Jason Kokrak were the final pieces of the puzzle.
Kokrak and Stenson are far from surprises. Kokrak has been a Golf Saudi ambassador and a past participant in the Saudi International. He told Golf Digest's Dan Rapaport earlier this year at Riviera that he was in talks with the circuit. According to Kokrak, his primary goal is to make as much money as possible in order to retire in his mid-40s.
Kokrak, 37, has three wins in 276 career starts on the PGA Tour. He is ranked No. 36 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Stenson, when named head of the 2023 European Ryder Cup team in March, made multiple assurances in his introductory press conference that he would not jump leagues. Nevertheless over the past month Stenson had been rumored to be reconsidering LIV Golf's offer, one that ultimately let to the European Ryder Cup team stripping him of his captaincy.
Stenson, 46, captured the 2016 Open Championship and has 21 career global wins. He is No. 171 on the OWGR.
Unlike the other two, Howell's name has not been wildly linked to the fledling league until Wednesday morning. Howell, 43, has made 609 career starts on the PGA Tour, racking up three wins and $42 million in career earnings. He entered the week No. 173 in the OWGR. —Joel Beall
Ernie Els, Paul McGinley both have strong thoughts
JULY 20: Ernie Els and Paul McGinley both have strong thoughts on the state of the game, with Els saying he sees a way for the existing tours to work with LIV Golf. McGinley, the winning European Ryder Cup captain in 2014, says that he's fine with players jumping ship to take the money, but that they shouldn't be able to jump back and forth, they need to pick a side and stick with it.
Both men spoke at Gleneagles ahead of the Senior British Open held at the King's Course.
“It’s crazy at the moment,” Els said. “It’s just a shame how things are being split up. My view—and I discussed this with the Saudi people a long time ago—was always to do things with the major tours. Everybody should partner up in this team and individual format. And play it in the dead season. That wouldn’t interfere with any of the main tours, It wouldn’t interfere with real golf as we know it.”
Said McGinley: “I’m part of the establishment. I’m not sure what I would have done. I’ve done well in the game, but that’s just me. I don’t think it’s my position to judge these guys. In a lot of ways I get it, but my view is the same as a lot of people’s. ‘Fine, lads, good luck, but don’t try to come back and play both sides.’” —Jay Coffin
Henrik Stenson stripped of Ryder Cup captaincy
JULY 20: Well, it's official. Henrik Stenson's short reign as captain of the European Ryder Cup team is over, according to a statement released early Wednesday by Ryder Cup Europe. The short statement does not outright say that Stenson is joining LIV Golf, but it's clear that it's in the works since he no longer will head Europe. He was appointed captain on March 15 of this year. —Jay Coffin
LIV Golf releases field list for event at Bedminster, with three spots open
JULY 19: LIV Golf tweeted out a field list for its event next week outside New York City and there were three mysterious spots left open and listed as TBA. They could go to anyone, as so many different people have been rumored to leave the PGA Tour and join the new series at this point. It's believed that they'll be announced later this week.
All the usual suspects are all listed as are winners of the first two events—Charl Schwartzel, who won outside London in the inaugural event, and Branden Grace, who won the second event at Pumpkin Ridge. Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson and company are all scheduled to be at Trump Bedminster July 29-31 in New Jersey. —Jay Coffin
Report says David Feherty has left NBC, heading to LIV Golf
JULY 18: David Feherty is on his way to LIV Golf as an analyst, according to a report in the New York Post. After spending time at the Old Course last week as an on-course reporter for NBC Sports and Golf Channel, he has left his position and is expected to join LIV Golf soon.
"We thank David for his numerous contributions to Golf Channel and NBC Sports' golf coverage for more than a decade, and we wish him well in the future," an NBC Sports spoksesperson told Golf Digest.
The first two events—outside London and in Portland, Ore.—could be watched live on YouTube and the three-person broadcast team has consisted of two other former NBC announcers: Premier League voice Arlo White (play-by-play) and former Golf Channel reporter Jerry Foltz. Dom Boulet, a former Asian Tour player known as a major voice for golf in Asia, has been the third member of the team.
Just last week, Charles Barkley said that he had been contacted by LIV Golf and that he was going to speak with series officials about an opportunity.
The 63-year-old Feherty was host of his eponymous "Feherty" show on Golf Channel from 2011-21 and was part of NBC's coverage of the Olympics over the past few years. He was an on-course reporter for the PGA Tour on CBS from 1997-2015 before joining NBC full-time in 2016. —Jay Coffin
Cam Smith provides awkward answer when asked about LIV Golf interest
JULY 17: Cam Smith, with the claret jug by his side only several minutes after winning the Open Championship, was asked about rumors that he's thinking about joining LIV Golf. He didn't say yes, but he did not say no either.
"I just won the British Open, and you're asking about that," Smith said. "I think that's pretty, not that good."
The answer did not deter the interviewer, who pressed and asked for more.
"I don't know, mate," Smith said. "My team around me worries about all that stuff. I'm here to win golf tournaments."
The significance of Smith leaving, should he ultimately defect, is that he'd be the highest ranked player in the World Ranking to leave. He's up to No. 2 after his win Sunday at the Old Course. —Jay Coffin
Charles Barkley says he'd talk to LIV Golf about an 'opportunity'
JULY 14: Will Sir Charles say "yes, sir" to LIV Golf?
Charles Barkley is not sure whether it'll happen, but he is sure of one thing—the two sides are at least going to have a conversation. On Thursday during the "Next Round" live show Barkley was asked if he'd been contacted by LIV Golf to be a featured media stat.
"I'm going to meet with LIV," Barkley told the show. "They called me and asked me woulc I meed with them? And I said 'yes.' Nothing that's imminent, I actually don't know everything they want from me, or what they technically want me to do, but you've got to always look at every opportunity that's available. So, the answer to your question is, 100 percent yes, I'm going to meet with LIV." —Jay Coffin
Jordan Spieth reacts to rumors he's considering LIV, adamant he isn't
JULY 7: Jordan Spieth was in the midst of a second-round 72 Friday at the Genesis Scottish Open when rumors started circulating on social media that he and LIV Golf officials were in negotiations and that he was considering making a jump to the eight-event Saudi-backed series.
Spieth has pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour many times over the past year, but so have some of those who ultimately jumped to LIV Golf. A few hours after Spieth was done with his second round he released a statement on his Twitter account reiterating his previous comments.
“Let me be clear, any reports that I am contemplating anywhere other than the PGA Tour are categorically untrue,” the statement said. “I am NOT in discussions with LIV. I have been quotes on the record for months that I fully support the PGA Tour and have never considered any alternatives.” —Jay Coffin
Rory McIlroy says it's finally time for PGA Tour, LIV Golf to talk
JULY 6: In an interview with the BBC regarding the stalemate between the PGA Tour and LIV that’s become the dominant story in golf, Rory McIlroy took a decidedly more conciliatory tone and even suggested an alternative that up to this point has been a non-starter for PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and tour officials.
Asked after playing in the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland if there should be “peace talks” between the tour and LIV, McIlroy said, “I think so. I think that needs to happen.”
Over the course of the interview, McIlroy noted the obvious: That things have gotten “messy” with LIV Golf hosting two big-money events to date and signing a handful of top-ranked players to contracts with more players rumored to be coming later in the summer. LIV Golf officials revealed last week that they were speeding up the timetable for launching their 14-event league to 2023.
In turn, Monahan and the tour have countered by announcing changes to the PGA Tour schedule, increased prize money in several events and a stronger alliance with the DP World Tour to help sway members who might be entertaining the notion of leaving. However, the tour has remained steadfast in saying players who leave aren’t welcome back, handing out indefinite suspensions for those who have jumped.
“It’s unfortunate, it’s messy, I wish it hadn’t have gotten that messy and in hindsight, I think there were probably steps that were missed that wouldn’t have made it that messy," McIlroy said, suggesting there was a way for LIV Golf—and specifically the Saudi investors backing the effort—to have moved forward, but also co-exist inside pro golf’s current structure rather than attempting to circumvent it.
McIlroy pointed to how in the women’s game, the Saudi-backed Aramco Ladies Series has been launched and is played in addition to events on the Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour.
"I understand people's reservations with [the Saudi money] but at the same time, if these people are serious about investing billions of dollars into golf, I think ultimately that's a good thing, but it has to be done the right way,” McIlroy said. “I think if they were to invest, having it be invested inside the existing structures. That's the thing I've tried to advocate for over the last few months." —Ryan Herrington
Bryson DeChambeau says LIV deal is worth more than $125 million, runs through 2026
JULY 5: Players who have signed big-money deals to join LIV Golf have been fairly tight-lipped about the specifics in their contracts. Bryson DeChambeau sounded like he was going to be, too, when asked about it during a recent appearance on the “Country Club Adjacent” podcast.
“I’m not gonna say the details,” DeChambeau said.
But with a slight pause, the eight-time PGA Tour winner continued. “I mean for what’s reported it’s somewhat close. It’s a four-and-a-half-year deal, I can definitely tell you that, and a lot of it was upfront, which is great.”
But how much money are we talking about? That’s where DeChambeau did stick to his guns about not offering too many details. Well, sort of.
When the hosts noted that 28-year-old was carrying a “$125 million smile,” DeChambeau replied “that’s a little low.”
“What’s cool about it,” DeChambeau said, “is I’ve already put it in places that make sense, whether it’s my foundation or real estate, being able to build a multi-sport complex or taking care of my family, taking care of what we’ve got going on with our content creation with Regecy, numerous other things, too.”
DeChambeau played in his first LIV event last weekend at Pumpkin Ridge, finishing 10th. That earned him another $560,000. —Ryan Herrington
PGA Tour suspends seven more golfers for participation in LIV Portland event
JULY 1: It was expected although it didn’t get the fanfare that the first wave did in early June. According to GolfChannel.com, after the first round of the LIV Golf Invitational Portland started on Thursday, the PGA Tour sent out a memo to its members announcing that seven more golfers will be added to the list those indefinitely suspended for participation in LIV Golf events.
These golfers include Abraham Ancer, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Patrick Reed and Matthew Wolff. The memo noted that Reed has resigned his membership.
They join 17 who received the same discipline for competing in the inaugural LIV Golf event in June.
All have been sanctioned for competing in LIV events without receiving competing event releases to play in a tournament the same week as a PGA Tour event.
“As our regulations clearly state, there are no conflicting event/media releases available for events that take place in North America,” the memo read of the event being held this week at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore. “As a result, these players did not receive the necessary conflicting event and media rights releases and their participation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV event is in violation of our tournament regulations.”
Here is a complete list of all players suspended by the PGA Tour:
* have informed the PGA Tour that they have resigned their membership
Matthew Wolff, Carlos Ortiz fill out remainder of this week's Pumpkin Ridge field
JUNE 27: LIV Golf announced Monday that its 48-man field is set for the second event of its series this week at Pumpkin Ridge outside Portland, Ore. World No. 2 ranked amateur Eugenio Chacarra previous announced that he'd be playing. Reports came out late Sunday saying Matthew Wolff was set to join. On Monday it was officially announced that the final three players in the field were in fact Chacarra, Wolff and Carlos Ortiz.
Ortiz had been rumored to be joining for a couple weeks, but it was not confirmed until this most recent LIV Golf announcement. The 31-year-old from Mexico has won one PGA Tour event, the 2020 Houston Open, and captured three Korn Ferry Tour wins back in 2014. He's ranked No. 119 in the Official World Golf Ranking and hasn't recorded a top-10 finish since last November at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba where he was second. He has missed eight cuts on the PGA Tour this year.
Matthew Wolff latest player to jump to LIV Golf
JUNE 26: Matthew Wolff shot a final-round 66 Sunday at the Travelers Championship and his five footer for par on the 18th hole at TPC River Highlands may have been his last on the PGA Tour.
According to multiple reports, and first reported by The Telegraph, the 23-year-old tour winner will be making the jump to LIV Golf and is expected to join the 48-man field next week in the series' second event at Pumpkin Ridge outside Portland, Ore. Wolff's signing had been rumored for weeks and it's set to be announced on Monday.
Wolff's short PGA Tour career has had plenty of ups and downs. He won an individual NCAA Championship in 2019 as a sophomore at Oklahoma State then jumped out onto the PGA Tour and won this third event, the 3M Open. He topped Collin Morikawa there in a playoff. In 2020 he tied for fourth place at the PGA Championship and finished second at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. His highest position in the Official World Golf Ranking was 12th after a second-place tied at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open later that year.
The last two years, however, have been more of a struggle. In early 2021, Wolff took a hiatus from the tour to deal with his mental health. This year he's missed seven cuts, his best finish on the PGA Tour is a tie for 25th at the Wells Fargo Championship and he tied for 40th at the Travelers Championship. Oddly enough, his last top-10 finish is a sixth-place tie at the PIF Saudi International back in early February. He's now ranked 77th in the OWGR.
World No. 2 amateur from Oklahoma State makes the jump
JUNE 25: Eugenio Chacarra, the Spanish golfer who is the No. 2 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, has joined LIV Golf and will make his pro debut next week in the circuit’s first U.S. event outside of Portland, Ore, according to a report in the Spanish newspaper Marca and confirmed by Golf Channel.
“My position is that of a player who is not a member of the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour, and I have not earned money while I have been an amateur, so I can play in this league without problems,” Chacarra told Marca (translated from Spanish). “This contract gives me peace of mind and ensures the future of my family. I had already achieved everything as an amateur, and now I will be able to gain experience as a professional.”
A two-time first-team All-American at Oklahoma State, Chacarra reached the playoff to decide this year’s individual NCAA Championship that was ultimately won by Gordon Sargent of Vanderbilt. He had said earlier this year that he would return to OSU for a fifth season in the fall.
Marca reported that he signed a three-year deal with LIV.
“They have given me an opportunity, and my grandfather always told me that when you have [an opportunity], to take the train,” Chacarra said. “In this circuit, they not only wanted legends, but young players with projection, and Greg Norman has noticed me. Here the philosophy is that the players start with a contract and that gives security, so it would not surprise me that players continue to come in.”
Former college star explains why he turned down LIV offer
JUNE 24: Tempting promising amateur golfers and newly minted professionals with guaranteed money to compete in LIV Golf events is a strategy Greg Norman has openly acknowledged. Multiple reports have noted that top players on the PGA Tour University ranking of college seniors had been contacted about playing in LIV Golf events.
One of those appears to have been recent University of Texas graduate Pierceson Coody, who helped lead the Longhorns to an NCAA title earlier this month. Coody ended the 2021-22 college season No. 1 on the PGA Tour U. ranking, which earned him immediate membership on the Korn Ferry Tour. This week the 22-year-old grandson of former Masters champion Charles Coody is playing in his third KFT event, having earned $31,125 in his first two starts.
According to a report from Golf.com, as Coody was finishing his college career in May and preparing to begin playing in KFT events, he and his family were approached through Coody’s agent by LIV Golf officials and presented with a “multi-million-dollar” offer to jump to the nascent series. The story goes on to say that Coody’s twin brother, Parker, was also offered a deal for a different amount to help entice the two to join. Parker also played at Texas; he finished 13th in the PGA Tour U. standings and earned membership on PGA Tour Canada.
The family had 12 days to make a decision, never interacting directly with LIV officials (the story says that offers all went through the Coodys’ agent). According to the story, Norman hoped to get Pierceson’s cellphone number to make a direct pitch to the Texas All-American, but Coody’s father, Kyle, wouldn’t allow it.
In the end, Pierceson turned down the offer (which would have voided his KFT membership), noting that his dream growing up was to play on the PGA Tour and that he didn’t want to cut that off for a quick—albeit sizable—payday.
“I might be sitting on my couch with millions in my bank account watching my friends play on the PGA Tour, and that would have been devastating,” Pierceson said. “Seeing that kind of money was kind of a wow moment for me. It was a crazy amount of money, but I love the American tour. I never saw myself as a LIV golfer, but a PGA Tour golfer.” —Ryan Herrington
DP World Tour fines, suspends members who competed in LIV Golf debut, threats further sanctions
JUNE 24: It might have taken a little longer than the PGA Tour to hand out, but the DP World Tour has taken disciplinary action against members who competed in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational series event earlier this month.
On Friday, the tour announced that each has been suspended from participating in the Genesis Scottish Open and Barbasol Championship (July 7-10) and the Barracuda Championship (July 14-17). Additionally, each has been fined £100,000. The players had competed in the LIV event despite not being given releases to play in a conflicting event.
The players impacted are: Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Richard Bland, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Bernd Wiesberger, Sam Horsfield, Adrian Otaegui, Oliver Fisher, Graeme McDowell, Wade Ormsby and Pablo Larrazabal. Those players competing in this week’s BMW International Open were told directly of the punishment in a meeting on Thursday.
In a statement, CEO Keith Pelley noted that participation in further conflicting tournaments without the required releases “may incur further sanctions.”
For more details on the DP World Tour’s punishment and how the money from the fines will be used, read John Huggan’s full story here.
With Brooks Koepka latest to join, field announced for Portland event, with 3 spots still open
JUNE 22: With new member Brooks Koepka in the fold as of Wednesday, LIV Golf announced most of its field for its first U.S. event—next week’s invitational at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside of Portland. The 48-player group that will play 54 holes with no cut will feature the LIV debuts of Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Abraham Ancer and Pat Perez. Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson will make their second starts coming off the circuit’s debut two weeks ago in London.
Forty-five players were listed in a press release, with three spots being held open, and the speculation will continue about who might be next to jump from the PGA Tour.
“The response after one event has been overwhelming,” LIV Commissioner Greg Norman said in the press release. “Free agency has officially come to golf. I’m proud of this field and our entire team that is committed to creating a new and exciting future for this sport.”
The total purse for Portland is $25 million, as it was in London, where Charl Schwartzel captured the individual title, along with being a part of the team winners, and earned $4.75 million.
The 12 team captains for Portland will be: Koepka, Mickelson, DeChambeau, Johnson, Kevin Na, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Wade Ormsby, and Hideto Tanihara.—Tod Leonard
Full 9/11 families letter to PGA Tour players revealed
JUNE 22: An open letter sent to PGA Tour players from nearly 2,500 9/11 survivors and the families of those who died in the terrorist attacks was made public on Wednesday. Issued in a press release by a public relations company and posted on the website of 911justice.org., the letter thanks the players who have stayed with the PGA Tour amid the challenge of upstart LIV Golf, which has lured away several notable players with nine-figure contracts with money supplied by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
Contending that PGA Tour defectors are taking "blood money," the letter details “mounting, document-based evidence of Saudi culpability in the attacks on the U.S.”
“Thank you for standing up for decency,” the letter reads. “Thank you for standing up for the 9/11 Families. Thank you for resisting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to cleanse its reputation by buying off professional athletes.
“We know not all of you are millionaires, and that you compete to win tournaments, fame and glory. We appreciate and applaud your spirit, drive and talents, and believe that is all part of what makes competitive sports great.
“Some of your fellow PGA Tour members have traded their dreams of earned success for easy money—indeed, blood money—whether they need those funds or not. They include some fo the richest in the field, who justify their roles in Saudi Arabia’s efforts to sportwash by simply, and astoundingly, looking the other way. They do so casually when asked the hard questions or are faced with the uncomfortable truth: That they are helping one of the world’s worst regimes paper over its crimes.”
The letter concludes: “We will Never Forget. Thank you for reminding all Americans and people of the world that we should never forget. Thank you for doing what’s right.”—Tod Leonard
Collin Morikawa says he's staying with PGA Tour
JUNE 21: It’s uncertain who else might be going to the LIV Golf series as speculation about additional top-ranked players making the move from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour run rampant on social media. But one player who made it certain he was NOT going on Tuesday was Collin Morikawa, who took to Twitter to try to end rumors about his status.
Indeed, back at the Genesis Invitational, the World No. 4 expressed his support for playing on the PGA Tour. “My entire life I've thought about the PGA Tour,” he said that week. "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.”
That said, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau also said they were sticking with the PGA Tour back in February only to change their minds in subsequent months. Morikawa clearly has not and felt like he had to come out make statement given the chatter on Twitter. —Ryan Herrington
Reports: Brooks Koepka next to join LIV Golf
JUNE 21: Does LIV Golf have its new next big name signed for the breakaway series? According to reports in The Telegraph and Sky Sports, it does as the Saudi-backed league will announce that four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is joining ahead of the second LIV Golf Invitational event next week at Pumpkin Ridge outside of Portland, Ore.
Koepka, 32, is an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, with a dominant stretch of play between 2017 and 2019 that saw him claim back-to-back U.S. Open titles and back-to-back PGA Championship victories. His performance in major championships has been outstanding prior to 2022, with 16 top-10 finishes in 28 starts from 2014 to 2021.
This season has seen far less impressive results, missing the cut at the Masters, finishing T-55 at the PGA Championship and solo 55th at the U.S. Open. During the overall 2021-22 PGA Tour season, Koepka has made 15 starts with just two top-10 finishes. His World Ranking has dropped to No. 19 after being the World No. 1 for 47 weeks in 2018.
Internet observes noticed on Monday that Brooks Koepka’s Twitter account had been edited, with references to being on the PGA Tour in his bio taken out. Koepka has played only sparingly since the spring, competing in just the WGC-Dell Match Play and the three majors since the Valspar Championship in March. He was in the field, at this week's Travelers Championship until late Tuesday night, when the tour announced he was a withdraw.
Koepka appeared to be on the defensive when asked multiple questions about LIV Golf during a pre-championship press conference last week at the U.S. Open. "I’m here at the U.S. Open. I’m ready to play U.S. Open, and I think it kind of sucks, too, you are all throwing this black cloud over the U.S. Open. It’s one of my favorite events. I don’t know why you guys keep doing that. The more legs you give it, the more you keep talking about it.”
In February, Koepka had said he wasn't interested in joining the Saudi-backed group but noted that the idea wasn't going away as some were forecasting.
"I think it's going to still keep going," Koepka said at the Honda Classic. "I think there will still be talk … everyone talks about money. They've got enough of it. I don't see it backing down; they can just double up and they'll figure it out. They'll get their guys. Somebody will sell out and go to it."
There had been speculation regarding whether Keopka might join the breakaway league after his younger brother Chase was among the 48 players who competing in the inaugural LIV Golf event outside London earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the golf world braces for potential other additions to the LIV Golf roster that could be revealed ahead of next week's event at Pumpkin Ridge, according to sources. —Ryan Herrington
Report: Ancer set to join LIV Golf
JUNE 19: Abraham Ancer is the latest golfer set to move on from the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf, according to ESPN Deportes. An official announcement is expected ahead of the second LIV Golf Invitational series event next week at Pumpkin Ridge outside of Portland, Ore.
Ancer, who withdrew from last week’s U.S. Open due to illness, is 20th in the World Ranking, making him one of the highest-ranked pros to competing on the LIV series. The 31-year-old from Mexico is also one of the few considered in their prime, joining recent signees like Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed as prime competitors younger than 35.
Last August, Ancer claimed his first PGA Tour title, winning the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Having competed for the International team in the 2019 Presidents Cup, he was expected to be on the roster again in September when the match is played at Quail Hollow Club. Earlier this month, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan suspended Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and others who played in the inaugural LIV Golf event, and promised similar suspensions for any tour member who competes on the rival circuit. —Joel Beall
Can LIV golfers stay competitive by playing less?
JUNE 17: Just two of the 15 players competing at the U.S. Open who also played in the LIV Golf Invitational series’ inaugural event outside of London made the cut at The Country Club—Dustin Johnson (T-24) and Richard Bland (T-43). As our Dan Rapaport writes, jumping ship is not the reason that Phil Mickelson, Kevin Na, Talor Gooch, Sam Horsfield, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia or others failed to play on the weekend. But it hints at a possible risk facing those who break away from the PGA Tour or DP World Tour: Could their games go south by playing against limited competition, over fewer holes, in fewer events?
Rapaport explores the matter with Dr. Michael Lardon, a clinical psychologist who has worked with scores of PGA Tour players, including Mickelson. Lardon notes that playing in events with guaranteed paydays and no cut has the potential to reduce player ambitions.
“Fear is one of the great motivators. If you can say to yourself, ‘oh, it doesn’t matter, I’m still making $100,000 net for the week,’ you’re just not going to grind the same,” Dr. Lardon said. “I had a couple of guys I worked with have some success and get a little money, and all the sudden that motivation that got them there disappeared. There are a number of guys I helped who never became the player they could have been.”
You can read the piece in its entirety here.
DP World Tour still deciding on fates of its members who play LIV Golf events
JUNE 14: CEO Keith Pelley informed DP World Tour membership in a letter on Tuesday obtained by Golf Digest that he had not yet made a decision on the ramifications for those who played in the LIV event. Any such decision would not come until June 23, the day entries close for the Genesis Scottish Open, which this year is being played as a co-sanctioned event with the PGA Tour. That means players in the field for next week’s BMW International Open who played in the first LIV event—which include Otaegui, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen, Pablo Larrazabal and Bernd Wiesberger—will be allowed to tee it up in Germany.
“Some members asked me why we simply do not follow what the PGA Tour have done and immediately suspend these players,” Pelley wrote. “While I understand the frustration, I remind you all that although we work closely with the PGA Tour, we are different organizations, and our rules and regulations are therefore different too.
“From many of your messages and my conversations, I know that many of you share the same viewpoint that Jay Monahan expressed in his note to PGA Tour members, namely that the players who have chosen this route have disrespected the vast majority of the members of this tour. As for what we are going to do, because of the complexity of our situation we are still evaluating an overall course of action. We will use the next seven days to continue to assess the impact the two conflicting events in the UK had on our own tournaments played in those weeks [the Porsche European Open and the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed] as well as on your tour overall.”
As he sent the memo, Pelley is also weighing a decision, according to more than a dozen sources: a partnership of sorts between his tour and LIV Golf Investments, or a further integration with the PGA Tour. A spokesman for LIV declined to comment for this story, but a source intimately familiar with discussions between the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour says both sides see potential value in aligning more closely.
For more details on Pelley’s decision, you can read this story from Dan Rapaport and John Huggan.