Let’s be honest. There exists almost no ideal time for significant news that won’t steal attention away from another tournament in the never ending cycle of professional golf.
If, for example, the PGA Tour waits until its events are done and dusted for the year to make a big song and dance, our events in Australia lose their chance to shine. But there has long been something of a peace treaty around the majors from other events. That is of course until now.
Until the first balls were in the air at last week’s U.S Open much of the talk, coverage and social media discourse surrounded the LIV Golf Series, who was going and who wasn’t, the ramifications, blah, blah, blah.
It was unfortunate. The U.S Open is one of the pinnacle events of men’s golf and deserved its space, and despite Greg Norman’s initial suggestions when launching the LIV concept that his intention was to play nice, jumping on Fox News of all places to accuses the PGA Tour of hypocrisy at the start of the week was marketing not mutual respect.
Two-times a champion of his national Open, Brooks Koepka took umbrage during his press conference when quizzed about the new Saudi-backed circuit throwing around so much money one can imagine Scrooge McDuck is at the helm not Norman.
“I think it kind of sucks, too, you are all throwing this black cloud over the U.S. Open. It's one of my favourite events,” Koepka barked at Brookline.
Fair play to him. And the responses to stories online about LIV not the U.S. Open were met with plenty of the same sentiment.
However, less than 48 hours after Matt Fitzpatrick picked his ball out of the 72nd hole and caddie Billy Foster kissed his maiden major prize (the 18th flag), the news cycle of golf was all in on LIV after James Corrigan of The Telegraph in the UK reported of Koepka’s decision to fly the PGA Tour coup for Riyadh supplied riches.
Of course, the U.S. Open was run, won and done. But there is the little matter that the best women in the game are playing a major this week. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where today it was announced that the prizemoney has been doubled to US$9 million.
Suddenly, when the attention should be on the third women’s major of the year being played at a renovated venue steeped in major history Koepka joining brother Chase on the start up Tour, alongside former Aussie Open winner Abraham Ancer, has placed a “black cloud” over one of the biggest events in the game.
"Although he hasn’t actively engaged in the conversation since his signing was reported, if indeed Koepka is off to play the LIV Tour then he is off to work for a group that clearly doesn’t 'feel bad' for the LPGA, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship or its players." - Jimmy Emanuel.
Sure, the next LIV Golf Series event is to be played next week, when it makes its American debut, but for a group that is attempting to “grow the game” they seem determined to allow a segment of it to be starved of attention. Notably a segment, women’s golf, that surely they would be keen to give some space given the accusations of LIV Golf as a Sportswashing exercise for Saudi Arabia, in part to help remove perceptions on the treatment of women. Among other things.
In his musings on the constant conversation about LIV, Koepka noted that he was trying to focus on playing, something he isn’t doing this week. But he did add “Like I said, y'all are throwing a black cloud on the U.S. Open. I think that sucks. I actually do feel bad for them for once because it's a shitty situation. We're here to play, and you are talking about an event that happened last week.”
Although he hasn’t actively engaged in the conversation since his signing was reported, if indeed Koepka is off to play the LIV Tour then he is off to work for a group that clearly doesn’t “feel bad” for the LPGA, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship or its players. Nor the PGA Tour and Travelers Championship that he remained listed in the field for this week until today. (A ban from the PGA Tour is unlikely to take place until the American actually hits a shot at Pumpkin Ridge next week).
This is not the first time that LIV has made waves when it was the women’s turn at the top of the tournament pile in terms of importance.
During Minjee Lee’s U.S. Women’s Open win, LIV made its debut event players public for first time.
The likes of Lee and defending champion Nelly Korda making an impressive comeback from a blood clot and surgery deserve better than a “black cloud” that is not of their making.
I’m certain no matter where you sit in LIV vs PGA Tour we can all agree on that.