Before the second major of the year, the dispute between the PGA Tour and the competition from Saudi Arabia escalated. It’s about the usual sports washing of the Saudis and a lot of money – on the pitch and soon probably in US courts. The PGA Tour has threatened renegade pros with expulsion (possible under the bylaws) and denied clearances. Greg Norman (67), world number one for 331 weeks during the 80s and 90s and two-time major winner, manages the business of the “LIV Golf” project, which was funded by the Saudi state fund with over 2 billion dollars. Norman has pawed his hooves in the US press, threatening antitrust lawsuits if the Pro Tour actually prevents its players from competing in events.
Saudi Golf kicks off in London on June 9th
48 players will compete in the first tournament (June 9-11) at the Centurion Golf Club outside of London, with Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and England’s Lee Westwood so far officially confirmed. The six-time major winner Mickelson even decided not to defend his title at the PGA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week. The 51-year-old Californian has been against the professional tour (“This is a dictatorship”) and the competition from Saudi Arabia, which he described as “murderers” and “scary mother……s”, since the end of February and a verbal sweeping attack. no longer competed in official tournaments, he also waived the start at the Masters in Augusta in April.
In the meantime, even long-time sponsors have turned away from Mickelson, at the same time it was announced that “Lefty” (Mickelson holds the bat on the left) is said to have lost around 40 million dollars in gambling and betting between 2011 and 2014.
The decoy: Much more money for less performance
What do the Saudis offer? More money for less work. The prize money for each tournament (eight tournaments are currently planned worldwide) is 25 million dollars, the winner collects 4 million, the last one still collects 120,000. The game is played over three rounds instead of four, there is no cut. In comparison, the prize money at the PGA Championship makes an almost modest impression: 12 million dollars are paid out, the winner is compensated with 2.16 million.
If you want to win the PGA Championship, you also have to prevail against the best players in the world – and that over four days. If you miss the weekend (and thus the cut), you can’t even cover the expenses, there is only money for the best 70 of a total of 156 starters. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (33), one of the most popular professionals on the tour, said a few days before the first tee that he wanted victory – but above all no further questions about the Saudis and Greg Norman.