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Paul McGinley says PGA Tour only in crisis if top 10 players leave for LIV Golf series



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Former Europe Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley says players making ‘u-turns’ on their decisions to join the LIV Tour is damaging for them

Former Europe Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley says players making ‘u-turns’ on their decisions to join the LIV Tour is damaging for them

Paul McGinley believes the PGA Tour will only reach crisis point if top 10 players start defecting to the LIV Golf series.

Sky Sports News understands Brooks Koepka, the four-time major winner ranked No 19 in the world, will quit the PGA Tour and join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational series, with No 20 Abraham Ancer confirmed for the next event in Portland.

Viktor Hovland, ranked No 8, is reported to be considering a move to LIV, although world No 4 Collin Morikawa has reaffirmed his commitment to the PGA Tour, insisting “nothing has changed”.

Newly-crowned US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, said the fact the PGA still boasts Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler proves “the Tour’s not going anywhere”.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, McGinley said: “I don’t think crisis is a fair word. There’s absolutely concern in the game, there needs to be a reaction from the current ecosystem within the game, and that includes the major championships. If that’s going to come, we don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.

“There’s a long way to play out on this yet. Critically, at this moment in time, from the Tour’s point of view, the very top players in the game are all very much aligned with the Tour.

Top-10 duo Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa are committed to the PGA Tour

Top-10 duo Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa are committed to the PGA Tour

“There’s a lot of disgust, divisiveness with the players, and it’s really sad to see. From guys standing shoulder to shoulder for all of their careers, and now there’s a line in the sand and you’re on one side or the other.

“There’s also a lot of guys pledging allegiance to the Tour a few months ago, now gone down a different road. I know it’s an evolving situation, but it’s a really disappointing one if you’re a traditionalist and love the history of the game.”

He added: “The big key for [PGA Commissioner] Jay Monahan is that the really, really top players in the game – the top 10 I’m talking about – are very much behind the Tour, including Matt Fitzpatrick.

  • 1. Scottie Scheffler
  • 2. Rory McIlroy
  • 3. Jon Rahm
  • 4. Collin Morikawa
  • 5. Justin Thomas
  • 6. Patrick Cantlay
  • 7. Cameron Smith
  • 8. Viktor Hovland
  • 9. Sam Burns
  • 10. Matt Fitzpatrick

“Should three or four of them break ranks, then I think you’ll be looking at a crisis period, but at this moment I don’t think it is.

“It’s very concerning, no doubt, but as long as the big superstars are staying on side with the Tours, I think they’ll continue to go down the route they’re going.”

‘No Ryder Cup decision yet’

The emergence of LIV has cast doubt on whether defectors will be clear to play in the Ryder Cup, and McGinley says discussions are ongoing after a meeting on Tuesday.

“We had a meeting this morning, it’s a real concern for us. You want the best 12 players from Europe against the 12 best from America, and that’s what it has been built on,” said McGinley, who won three Ryder Cups as a player and was then captain of Europe’s triumph in 2014.

“It’s very hard to have team spirit when there’s division among your own team, with some players deciding to go down a different route.

“There’s a long way to play out on that, we haven’t reached any conclusions on that, I think a lot of consultation with the players will take place. Henrik Stenson is the captain, the points haven’t started yet, but by the time they do we’ll have to have definitive rules in place as to whether the players who are playing LIV will be eligible or not.”

‘LIV purely about money, not growing the game’

Brooks Koepka became frustrated at the line of questioning he faced during his US Open press conference, saying journalists were 'throwing a dark cloud' over the competition

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Brooks Koepka became frustrated at the line of questioning he faced during his US Open press conference, saying journalists were ‘throwing a dark cloud’ over the competition

Brooks Koepka became frustrated at the line of questioning he faced during his US Open press conference, saying journalists were ‘throwing a dark cloud’ over the competition

McGinley also believes there is room for new initiatives in the sport, but the Irishman is not a fan of LIV’s shortened format.

“I’m not going to judge them, it’s not my job to be judge and jury and decide they’re right or wrong, but if you want to make that decision there are big consequences for those players over there,” McGinley added.

“The majors repeated they may well exclude them from major championships which could be a big thing, the PGA have already excluded them, the European Tour have not made their decision in that regard yet.

“So there will be repercussions for these players, but the upside is they’re getting a huge amount of money. It’s purely about the money, not growing the game.

“There’s room in the game for new ideas, but the 54 holes and in terms of it being a ‘Shotgun’ start, I don’t know if that is really representative of what we know professional golf to be, and the true test of golf is 72 holes, the mental challenge, and rising to a crescendo on 17 and 18.”

The controversy of LIV Golf: Explained

Players in the LIV Golf Series have been repeatedly grilled in press conferences about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and whether they are competing in the league solely for monetary reasons.

Paul McGinley used Mo Salah and the Premier League to help explain how the LIV Golf Series is different from the structure and organisation of the PGA and DP World tours

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Paul McGinley used Mo Salah and the Premier League to help explain how the LIV Golf Series is different from the structure and organisation of the PGA and DP World tours

Paul McGinley used Mo Salah and the Premier League to help explain how the LIV Golf Series is different from the structure and organisation of the PGA and DP World tours

The breakaway series is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – the owners of Newcastle United – and involves huge sums of money for the competitors.

No official World Golf Ranking points are awarded for LIV events, although CEO Greg Norman says an application will be submitted for that to change.

The inaugural event took place at the Centurion Club last week, with former major winners Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson among the 48-man field, while seven more tournaments are scheduled over the coming months.

Pumpkin Ridge GC in Portland from June 30-July 2 and Trump National Golf Club Bedminster from July 29-31 are the next two host venues, with further US-based tournaments taking place in Boston from September 2-4 and Chicago from September 16-18.

Stonehill Golf Club in Bangkok is the venue from October 7-9 and Royal Greens Golf Club – the site of the Saudi International in recent years – hosts the following week, with the season-ending Team Championship then hosted at Trump National Doral Miami from October 27-30.

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