LIV Masters hints at a grim future for LIV Golf

Caroline Hendrix, Opinions Editor

The 2023 Masters heightened controversy for an otherwise peaceful sport this past weekend, as LIV Golf players faced PGA Tour players head-to-head. While Jon Rahm took home the green jacket, LIV’s Brooks Koepka did not make Rahm’s win easy, and this Masters has raised important questions surrounding the future of LIV players in major tournaments and their ability to compete with non-LIV players. 

While this is the third major since LIV was established, Golf Digest notes that the first two occurred within its first few weeks. Therefore, the 2023 Masters was the first major tournament that could help gauge LIV’s ability to compete with PGA players. 

And LIV golfers did not enter April 6 unprepared — 12 of the 18 eligible LIV players made the cut and Koepka made it into the last round with a two-shot lead. Many viewers were not sure whether LIV players would be able to compete how they used to, considering how they have been playing in infrequent 54-hole events. But Koepka proved that LIV is not a detriment to their skill level, even if it is so for their reputation. 

Have LIV players had enough of the scrutiny? This seems to be the case with Koepka. Golf Digest notes an interesting observation that Koepka has separated himself from the league where he can, not wearing any LIV apparel and not getting involved in LIV’s lawsuit against the PGA Tour. His decision to sign a deal with LIV will never be ethically justified even if monetarily reasonable, but it is reassuring to know that the league is not amounting to be a force comparable to the PGA. And it is especially reassuring to know that even LIV golfers are coming to these realizations. 

What is stopping LIV from being more successful? The obvious answer is its ties to Saudi funding, hinting at an agenda to cover up the Saudi Arabian unethical and inhumane actions. As a result of this relationship, LIV has faced consequences from the public, the media and the rest of the golf industry. 

Signing a deal with LIV Golf greatly hinders players who want to continue competing in major tournaments. The New York Times explains that majors like the Masters use a points system to determine what players qualify to compete, and points come with PGA Tour events, not LIV events. Therefore, unless a LIV player has an automatic entry into a PGA Tour event or a major from past wins, they might not be able to earn enough points to compete in majors in the next few years. And while Augusta National Golf Club did allow LIV golfers to compete in the 2023 Masters, there has been no action to change the points system to accommodate their circumstances in the future. 

LIV Masters also contrasts what major tournaments are supposed to be about with what they  have become. They should be about showcasing the best players and allowing them to compete against each other. This year feels different. While it added a new layer of competition between LIV players and the rest of the world, the LIV controversy has overtaken the spirit of the game. 

Even after allowing LIV players to compete ] this past weekend, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley agrees. He explains that “the platform that these players have built their careers on were based on the blood, sweat and tears of their predecessors” and he was “expressing some disappointment that these players were taking the platform that had been given to them — that they rightly had earned success on, by the way — and moving to another opportunity, perhaps not thinking about who might come behind them.” 

It is evident that LIV Golf will never be able to escape its immoral reputation and be taken seriously by other leagues, viewers and even its own players. And even though LIV players like Koepka came seemingly ready to win the Masters, their future in anything but LIV events is largely up in the air. 

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