82 wins and 15 majors followed Tiger’s first win

The ultimate #throwbackthursday, today is the day in 1996 that Tiger Woods won his first professional tournament, the Las Vegas Invitational. Now called the Shriners, in honour of the Charitable movement who sponsor the tournament, it is this week’s event on the PGA Tour.

News of a possible return to action this week. Tiger’s close friend Notah Begay, in an interview on Sirius XM PGA Tour radio said that he was ‘fairly certain’ that Tiger would tee up in his own PNC Championship in the Bahamas in December to play with his son Charlie. The field for this event was released this week and Tiger’s name wasn’t on the list, but there are three exemptions available to be filled at a later date.

Notah, who was also talking about his own appearances on the PGA Tour Champions also teased that “Tiger might surprise everyone and we might see him one time this fall”

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Madrid Open targetted by environmental protesters

Environmental protestors Extinction Rebellion targetted the DP World Tour’s Madrid Open this week by pouring cement into golf holes to be used in the tournmanent. They left a sign in Spanish saying they were protesting at the course using 100,000 litres of water a day.

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British golf clubs starting to ban plastic tees

Positive story in today’s Golfshake.com about golfers moving away from plastic tees to use bamboo alternatives

Plastic golf tees have become a major talking point as the game looks to become more ecologically sustainable. Historic Royal North Devon is among the clubs that have taken the bold step to outright ban plastic tees. Golfshake Ambassador Andy Picken wanted to learn more about the impact of this decision.

A group of 25 golf clubs in 2020 imposed a ban on the plastic tee. These included Prince’s and Royal North Devon.

I was interested to get the views of the clubs and Mark Evans, the General Manager of Royal North Devon, confirmed that in the main all golfers using the facility fully embraced the ban as they understood the importance of the venue and its significance to the North Devon Biosphere.

Mark explained that one hundred thousand bamboo tees had been provided by Ocean Tees and were given out to visitors and supplied in the club shop. Only a handful of broken plastic tees have been found since the ban and were quickly recycled.

Mark disclosed that he manages the course through an ecology agreement and partnership with Natural England.

The course sits on common land and is as natural as the day it was formed with sheep and horses roaming around whilst you are playing golf and enjoying the fantastic surroundings. Discarded and abandoned plastic tees offer a hazard to those animals and other elements of the North Devon Biosphere.

Royal North Devon
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Ryder Cup Captains meet in Rome this week for One Year To Go celebrations

Earlier this week Luke Donald and Zach Johnson hosted the One Year to Go Ryder Cup celebrations. They had a Champions Challenge and led two teams od elite Italian junior and disabled golfers at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, the venue for the 2023 Ryder Cup matches. They had a gala evening at the Palazzo Colonna followed by a photo call at the Colosseum the following day.

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The PGA Tour Netflix documentary

Is more hotly anticipated and a million times more entertaining and authentic than anything that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are going to put on Netflix. What a year to film behind the scenes on tour. The first series of the Netflix documentary of behind the scenes on the PGA Tour airs in January 2023.

Based around the extremely successful Formula 1 hit, Drive To Survive, the docuseries will, for the first time ever, give access inside the ropes and behind the scenes of the PGA Tour, with the series capturing aspects like the intensity of training, travel, victory, and defeat through the lens of a diverse group of players and their support teams.

With a number of players already on board with the idea, as well as filming apparently having started back at the Hero World Challenge in December, the PGA Tour and governing bodies that conduct men’s Major championships – Augusta National Golf Club, the PGA of America, the USGA, and The R&A will provide entry into the sport’s biggest events, including all four of the Majors, The Players Championship and the season-ending FedEx Cup.

The producers Chad Mumm and Paul Martin spoke on the No laying Up podcast. Here’s some of what they had to say. They oreviously made the Formula 1 documentary series Drive To Survive.

Players come on to the tour from all kinds of backgrounds, often they can be driven by chips on their shoulders and they have to do it every week. It comes down to what goes on between the ears. We’re going to show that they still have daily worries like everyone else. But elite athletes can focus and shut everything else out. Everything else goes out of the window and they’ve wirked so hard to get out there.

We think the docuseries will be a chance to subvert expectations. We have 5 minutes to get you hooked, We saw with Drive to Survive how it ignited a new following in the sport because Netflix is a huge global platform reaching 250 million households So we’re expecting new fans to come from it.

It’s going to be dramatic storytelling inside the professional world, Fans will see another side that they haven’t seen before. It’s for everyone though.

Because it is oriduced by independent content creators there’s not the same control but the pg a Tour fully approve of the series and have opened up doors. There’s trust from them as they don’t have editorial control. They provided information on players agents so they could be approached. In the first series, No Rory, Brooks or Mickelson but the door is always open for later involvement.

It’s a massive jigsaw puzzle which needs putting together to tell the story. We want viewers to care about the players, not just the winners but people who come 5th and 6th. Now the doors are open we can build the show, new players can come on board at any point. We still want it to be interesting and relevant a year from now.

Because of the demands on their time golfers can mistakenly be perceived as robots with o worries or anything going on in their lives. We will show the human side to all that.

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Official World Golf Ranking respond to LIV strategic alliance with MENA

The reaction from many on the twittersphere has often been with one word or three letters “Good” or “LOL”, many laughing memes, sarcasm “I’m so surprised” and the words of scary financial coach Suze Orman “Denied, denied, denied”.

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Justin Thomas appears on the Tonight Show

Fresh from an American win in the President’s Cup, Justin Thomas taught host Jimmy Fallon his key swing moves on America’s top rated chat show.

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LIV Golfers finally get OWGR points?

Chief Operating Officer of LIV Golf Atul Khosla announced today a strategic alliance between LIV Golf and the Middle East and North Africa Tour which will mean that LIV golfers will start to earn Official Golf World Ranking points from this week at their event in Bangkok.

The MENA Tour, established in 2011, is a developmental tour which has 54 hole events and acts as a pathway for players to join the Asian Tour. Since 2016 its tournaments have been recognised for official world ranking points.

Atul Khosla said “we are taking this mutually beneficial action to support the game at the developmental level. Because of the i portance and fairness of LIV golfers qualifying for world ranking points we are pleased to create pathways whichgive more opportunities for young players and give players rankings to include all the best golfers”.

Well, that’s an odd way round it. Very few of the current crop of LIV golfers can be called young players. The stand out exception being 19 year old Shergo Kurdi, whose career I have followed since he was a junior player in Surrey. Shergo is a perfect fit for LIV, as his father is from Jordan and Shergo has represented his country internationally. So unless this reasoning is to include new signings straight out of American colleges, it hardly fits those golfers who have gladly joined LIV in the twilight of their careers. I know there’s more than one way to skin a cat, bit this seems an odd alliance to get their top players back into the OWGR scheme.

The implications are huge. Eligibility for all the top events and majors, Presidents and Ryder Cup teams going forward if this works.

So, LIV Golf have overcome this obstacle. There are now two more problems to solve. A pending, accrimonious court case against the PGA Tour and the ongoing lack of TV exposure.

It seems that if LIV Golf can’t win by heading straight forward, they find a way round it. Not announced yet, but the likelihood of LIV Golf paying Fox Sports to show their tournaments draws ever closer. What is odd about this is that Greg Norman was let go by Fox Sports after a short USGA seasonas a commentator. But now he is paying them to show LIV golf.

Their viewing figures on You Tube have been poor, and the galleries look thin. But one thing is certain, you cannot underestimate their determination to make things happen. With bottomless pockets, and a willingness to go round obstacles and find a way to win, LIV is becoming an increasing thorn in proper golf’s side.

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Last night, while I was asleep here in London, Judge Beth Labson Freeman was ruling in San Jose California in the first LIV Golf v PGA Tour restraining order case. And she was wondering whether this court case was all bad dream. This was a hastily arranged court date to decide whether LIV players Talor Gooch, Hudson Stafford and Matt Jones could be allowed to play in the FedEx Cup play offs starting this week.

Judge Freeman opened her summing up by asking if the events in the film Top Gun Maverick actually happened or if Tom Cruise’s character had died in the opening sequence and everything after the crash was really a dream?

This set the tone for, what I gather from social media, had been a very entertaining afternoon. Thank you to Rex Hoggard, Joel Beall, Kyle Porter, Rick Gehman, Ryan Ballengee, Sean Zak, Jason Sobel and Daniel Kaplan, who were awake to report what happened. 

The judge ruled against the appeal of Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones to be allowed to play in the FedEx Cup Play offs beginning at the St Jude Classic on Thursday. 

The main anti-trust court case brought by 11 LIV golfers against the PGA Tour now has a court date of August 7, 2023.

Hopefully this will give LIV time to find a lawyer who actually knows about golf or even geography. Because their lawyer in this case, Robert Walters, seemed unprepared for even discussing basic golf.

He made a number of weird mistakes, including during the recess leaving his mic on so everyone could hear some of his discussions with his team, mention of the broadcaster Brandel Chamblee.

Although representing golfers who had been paid by the Saudi Investment Fund he referred to the Saudi International tournament as being in Riyadh or Jeddah, not where it is actually played in the King Abdullah Economic City. He then placed the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Ohio.

As Kyle Porter from CBS observed he was explaining the complicated relationship between the majors, the Official World Golf Rankings and the FedEx Cup “like he learned about them 3 weeks ago”.

What raised most eyebrows was this. He said: “The FedEx Cup is the Super Bowl of golf”.

He talked about LIV having a 20% market share (though on the basis of fans actually in attendance that would be 0.2% of the market, and also, most of them had not paid to get in anyway).

The judge picked up on this “How can you project a 20% market share and yet call the PGA Tour a monopoly? It is not illegal to be a monopoly. The question is whether the monopoly power is being used against another organisation”

The LIV lawyer also said that the money won in tournaments is recouped against LIV contracts. This is not true. It is separate from the prize money. 

Now, let’s take a breath.

I live in a country where it’s just been announced that our energy bills will reach nearly £4,500 a year in January. I find it absolutely insulting that the plaintiff’s attorney said this about Gooch, Swafford and Jones:

“these three poor kids”

Yeah right. Multi-millionaire kids.

The PGA Tour attorney Eliot Peters quite rightly jumped on this:

“They made a business decision to receive money.  They have made more money in the last two months than they’ve ever made on the PGA Tour. LIV money is way bigger than FedEx Cup money”

The judge was then shown slides which set out the exact amounts of money which Gooch, Swafford and Jones signed for, which were not shown to the court. The judge nodded her head . “Remarkable” she said. “I’m trying to interpret in plain language your regulations and not how you would like them to work”.

She then, in giving judgment for the defendant PGA Tour, said that “LIV contracts are based on the calculation on what they were leaving behind. They lock up these players in a way the PGA Tour never imagined they are so restrictive”

And that is the crux of the matter. Having taken these huge sums of money from LIV each player is tied in to playing (next year) 14 LIV tournaments. They cannot cherry pick where they want to play because the PGA Tour also has a 15 tournament minimum commitment. They can’t just go in and out of the PGA Tour or DP World Tour and do smash and grab appearances to alleviate their boredom with the LIV product.

PGA Tour players can’t just pop up in LIV events as and when they please, just to alleviate their boredom with the PGA Tour product either. This is because LIV is a closed shop. It is by invitation only. This court case highlighted for me how the PGA tour was right to ban the LIV players from their events. Their committed players can’t go in and out of the LIV tour so why should LIV golfers be able to do the same? 

The court case also got blown off course by bringing up Masters Chairman Fred Ridley. It is up to each major championship to decide whether or not to allow LIV golfers into their fields. It looks as though, for now, they will be allowed to play in the four majors.  But that will be the only alleviation of what will inevitably be their boredom with the LIV product and the lack of buy in from golf fans. From where it stands now it looks to me like a massive, very expensive, white elephant.

But as for representing their countries in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cups? Some very strong words from American Presidents Cup Captain Davis Love III last week, who even talked about PGA Tour players walking out and refusing to play in events where LIV golfers were. Wow. This really sounds like a civil war.

So, first blooding to the PGA Tour in this court case. The main event will take place in August next year. It will take a crystal ball to work out what will happen with that. But I did spot that one of the best psychic mediums in the world answered that question on YouTube on Sunday. Stay tuned for what he had to say.

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Open Champion Cameron Smith signs for LIV according to Aussie golfer Cam Percy

Speaking to an Australian radio station about Smith and Marc Leishman, unfortunately, they’re gone”.

Cameron Percy, an Australian golfer who just tied for eighth at the Wyndham Championship, did an interview with RSN Radio Australia and all but confirmed Smith and fellow Aussie Marc Leishman are already gone.

If they do in fact make the move, it’ll be interesting to see if they wait until after the Presidents Cup. Smith is No. 1 in the International Team standings while Leishman is 16th.

Both players would be ineligible for the team event if they left after the FedEx Cup playoffs.

This signing seems to be confirmed by an exclusive in the Telegraph. here in the UK.

Cameron Smith refused to confirm or deny his signing in his press conference at the St Jude Classic on Tuesday.

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