Diane Knox Balas breaks down the LIV Golf drama after Mickelson and Johnson confirm moves

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Diane Knox Balas

Golf · 3 weeks ago

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Golf analyst for Pickswise.

Resignations, shock sign-ups and a whole lot of money; what a week it’s been…and it’s only Tuesday!

Focus should be kept on the return of the RBC Canadian Open, after two years of cancellations due to COVID, but it would be remiss of me to not talk about the story that is dominating the world of golf. There’s another event taking place this week across the pond, and it’s grabbing all the headlines. The highly controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf events kick off near London on Thursday. We will see Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Talor Gooch, among a field of 48, tee it up at the Centurion Club in St. Albans, England.

After a four-month hiatus, Mickelson will be back in competitive action in a move that was anticipated and, if the rumors are to be believed, worth in the region of $200 million. In his official statement, Phil wrote, “I am ready to come back and play the game I love but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start, one that’s exciting for me at this stage of my career and is clearly transformative, not just for myself, but ideally for the game and my peers.”

It’s still unknown what the repercussions will be, however PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has made it clear that there will be consequences, and players will not be allowed to play on both tours. Whether he’s going to enforce bans, suspensions, or fines is still unknown. But in the wake of his threats, a number of high-profile players who have committed to LIV Golf have announced their resignation from the PGA Tour. Kevin Na was the first to go down this route, swiftly followed by Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Dustin Johnson. What this means going forward, no one knows.

Let’s not forget that even with these enormous signing-on bonuses, the guys are playing for a gigantic sum of money — first place receives $4 million, whereas last place in this no-cut event will earn the recipient $120,000. Not bad for three days’ work.

LIV Golf tournament: What you need to know

Are you intrigued? I sure am, and I’ll be following the action on and off the course all week. Here’s the breakdown — it’s a 54-hole, shotgun start with an additional team element. Team captains will draft their teams at a “party” that’s taking place on Tuesday night (media are not allowed to attend) — Dustin’s team is called “4 Aces” and Phil will captain “Hy Flyers”. The action will be streamed on YouTube, Facebook and the LIV Golf website.

FanDuel has released betting odds and it’s no surprise that DJ is the favorite at +350, with Mickelson at around +2500. Until we see the format and the first event, I have no idea who I would put my money on!

News continues to break on LIV Golf, and it’s abundantly clear that this venture isn’t going away. I’ve heard that in the region of 20 more PGA Tour players are currently negotiating their deals and are poised to make the move, with some popular names included. Hudson Swafford, whose total career earnings on the Tour amount to just shy of $10 million, will tee it up this week in a deal that was apparently worth $30 million. At 34 years old, would he ever made an additional $30 million playing on the PGA Tour? Well, he doesn’t seem to think so.

These guys are doing it for the money, and the lifestyle that goes with it. And each to their own. I just can’t wait to see how this all plays out over the coming months.

Pickswise is the home of free expert Golf Picks and Golf Predictions. Our PGA expert picks go live every Monday or Tuesday, so check out our latest golf picks, best bets, and analysis for this week’s PGA tournament now.

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