Golfers including Rory McIlroy have turned on LIV defector Brooks Koepka, but the world No.1 has made his stance clear.
Rory McIlroy calling fellow pro Brooks Koepka “duplicitous” for signing with LIV Golf and PGA Tour boss Jay Monahan labelling Greg Norman’s Saudi-back tour as “an irrational threat” were the latest salvos in a golf war becoming more about money every day.
As Monahan confirmed the PGA Tour had upped the ante, announcing it would increase purses at eight events during the 2022-23 season to an average of nearly $30m and adding three international events, he also said if “the only weapons here are dollar bills” in golf’s arms race, he couldn’t win.
But amid the nasty turn on Koepka and talk of megabucks, with Norman’s operation shelling out close to $500m to lure players to events derided by many as “exhibitions” given their no-cut, 54-hole nature, salient voices again declared money wasn’t everything.
World No.1 Scottie Scheffler has broken the PGA Tour record for season earnings in 2022, and it’s only June. He’s won more than $18m by taking out titles including the Masters but is so focused on winning events with meaning, he hasn’t even counted his cash.
“I don’t know how much money I’ve made this year, but it’s definitely more than I deserve for whacking a little white golf ball around,” he said.
“Like Rory said, when you’re making decisions purely based off of financial reasons and fear-based stuff, it doesn’t always work out what’s best.”
Unlike the four fellow Masters champions, including Dustin Johnson, who might yet not be invited back to Augusta after taking the rebellious route, even though the British Open joined the US Open in allowing LIV golfers to compete, at least for this year, Scheffler won’t put that at stake.
“I would never risk going and losing the opportunity to go back to Augusta every year or to do any of it. There’s nothing that I would want to do right now that would risk having any sort of affects on the way my life is now,” he said.
“Being able to play in front of the crowds and have those really euphoric moments where you’re actually able to make a putt to win a tournament, like finishing out the Masters and becoming No.1 in the world in Austin are memories that I can never, ever come close to replacing with an amount of money.”
McIlroy didn’t hide his disdain for Koepka, more so because he’d been saying the opposite in private conversations
“I think that’s why I’m surprised at a lot of these guys because they say one thing and then they do another, and I don’t understand that and I don’t know if that’s for legal reasons or if they can’t – I have no idea,” he said.
“But it’s pretty duplicitous on their part to say one thing and then do another thing.”
Scheffler also confirmed Koepka had backflipped for reasons no one yet knew.
“I was at a function with him last week and (it) definitely wasn’t what he had in mind,” Scheffler said.
“We were focused on building the PGA Tour and getting the guys that are staying here together and kind of just having talks and figuring out how we can help benefit the tour. So to see Brooks leave was definitely a surprise for us.”
Monahan, refusing to concede his tour was under threat and who pleaded to players to stay the course with him, again hoped that tradition, history and loyalty to the game would win the golf war.
“The PGA Tour, an American institution, can’t compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in attempt to buy the game of golf,” he said.
“We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi Golf League is not that. It’s an irrational threat; one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game.
“We don‘t expect to overcome this current challenge by relying on our legacy and track record alone. We’ve been on a path for a number of years to strengthen and evolve our product for the benefit of our fans and players alike.”