Englishman Lee Westwood’s announced changes to the US PGA Tour for next season are simply a copy of what the Saudi-backed LIV golf circuit is doing.
PGA Commissioner Jay Monaghan said at the Tour Championship this week that tour players have agreed to compete in 20 events next season, including 12 “elevated” stops with $20 million in prize money and an increase in the minimum season payout for fully exempt players.
Westwood, who jumped to LIV Golf with $25 million in purses and 54-hole events, told Golf Digest in an interview published Friday that the PGA sees LIV Golf as trying to duplicate what it already does.
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“I laugh at what the PGA Tour players come up with,” Westwood told the magazine. “It’s a replica of what LIV is doing. There are a lot of hypocrites.
“They all say LIV is ‘not competitive’. They all point to LIV’s uncut appearance and short fields. Now, ironically, they’re proposing 20 events like LIV.”
“Hopefully, at some point they’ll all shake their words. And we hope they will be as responsible as the first days.
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Seven more players will jump from the PGA to LIV Golf after this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta, according to multiple reports.
LIV Golf returns next month with events in Boston and Chicago. Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth’s founding of LIV Golf is the spark for the PGA’s changes, which will allow top-ranked players to meet each other more often.
“It’s impossible not to think that the players we have on the PGA Tour right now are motivated to continue looking to keep them on the PGA Tour,” Spieth said.
“Was this heading this way soon? Probably not, but to say it generally wouldn’t have happened, I’m not sure.
But I think that’s really motivating to look at the product as a whole and figure out how to make it the best it can be.
The PGA Tour has issued an indefinite ban to any player who appeared and played in the LIV Golf Tournament. 11 LIV golfers have filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour, though a resolution is unlikely before 2024.
LIV Golf has been criticized as a “sports washing” bid for the Saudis and allegations of human rights abuses.
“The questions about the Saudi government and their policies are unanswered,” says Westwood. “My response is just to try and not answer. I’m not a politician. I’m a golfer.
Westwood, who turns 50 next April, sees the 54-hole format as fitting his life at the moment.
“I’m looking forward to playing the LIV event in Miami at the end of October, then I don’t have to regroup until February,” Westwood said.
“I can already say to people, ‘These are the 14 weeks I’ll be playing next year.’ And I can have a little fun in the other 38. Westwood said he hopes to play in four DP World Tour events next year and is looking forward to playing in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth next month, where many LIV golfers will compete against players from the European circuit.
Matt Fitzpatrick, the reigning US Open champion, says 20 LIV golfers are expected at Wentworth.
It will be strange to see certain people at Wentworth. That would be a bit strange and obviously a bit frustrating.