Wake me up when someone consistently leaves the PGA tour for LIV Golf. Or when Saudi Arabia’s naked play to highlight its kinship with murder and other human rights abuses catches the eye more than videos of cats and makeup lessons.
Until then, this existential threat to the PGA Tour is nothing more than the equivalent of golf with spoiled boys cheating their way to a degree that smart kids consider their school safe.
The news that Brooks Koepka will be taking part in LIV Golf starting next week at the Pumpkin Ridge event in Oregon sparked a new round of anxiety on Tuesday among those predicting disaster and grief for the PGA tour. Koepka is a four-time champion and his “rival” with Bryson DeChambeau has been buzzing on the internet for most of 2021.
And yet… for everything Koepka has done in the past, he has become largely indistinguishable from most of the other guys on the PGA Tour now. His only win in the last three seasons was 16 months ago and he has more missed cuts this season (six) than he has finished in the top-25 (four). It used to be a threat on Sunday afternoon in every major category, it did not even enter the top 50 in the top three this year.
In this way, Koepka is like the rest of the LIV crowd. After years of arguing every week against the best in the game, on the most iconic courts, he decided that cash gifting and the easy life of a celebrity golfer is now his speed.
That is why the LIV will never be the threat envisioned by the Saudis and Greg Norman.
“I really do not notice anyone missing this week. Maybe outside of (Dustin Johnson) “, No. 1 in the world Scottie Scheffler he told the RBC Canadian Openwhich was confronted with the first big event of LIV, which played outside London.
Yes, the PGA Tour will need to change some of its modes of operation. The re-imagining of the fall program to include eight, limited-scope, large wallet events is a good start. Appearance fees should also be considered, especially for some of the smaller market tournaments.
But as long as the PGA tour offers real competition while the LIV hosts glorious exhibitions, the tour in Saudi Arabia is more of a nuisance than a threat.
“The three-day shotgun for me is not a golf tournament without a cut,” Jon Rahm told the US Open last week. “It is so simple. I want to play against the best in the world in a band that has been happening for hundreds of years. That’s what I want to see. “
This gap will become more apparent over time.
Even if the Masters, British Open and PGA continue to allow LIV renegades to compete, as the USGA did at the US Open, the mental toughness required by a major league is a world apart from the pressure of one the blows of LIV and laughs. Do you really think Koepka, Johnson and the others will be able to turn a switch from their 54-hole cuts to find the focus they need to keep Scheffler or Will Zalatoris away on Sunday afternoon?
It certainly did not look like the US Open. Johnson achieved the best of the LIV crowd and was effectively left out after the second round, finishing in 24th place. Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Kevin Na did not even make the cut.
At the moment, LIV is a curiosity, with everyone watching to see who – if any – is the next player to jump and whether the real golf brokers – Augusta National, R&A, PGA – will have guts to defend the game. But as long as you watch it, such as the finish at the Canadian Open, or the screening of appointments such as Torrey Pines and The Players Championship, this is unlikely to happen.
LIV Golf should really be on TV, first of all. It is currently only available on YouTube, Facebook and the LIV Golf website and early returns are not great. According to Apex Marketing, the first round of the LIV event at the Centurion Club earlier this month had an average of 94,000 viewers on YouTube, while the second round averaged 54,000.
Beware, this was Mickelson’s first appearance since announcing he would be at LIV. First sight since he said the Saudis were “scary (insulting)” but, hey, they were throwing him a load of cash, so what is a small murder between friends? If LIV was ever going to attract people, this would be the time.
Instead, LIV figures were about what Dutch makeup artist Nikkie de Jager gets for her so interpretive NikkieTutorials. (LIV can only dream of meeting the 11 million views Jagger had of her transformation into Adel.)
The PGA tour always had to be recalibrated as the long-time fans of Tiger Woods and Mickelson fans grew up. But Matt Fitzpatrick’s victory in Brookline, Zalatoris coming so close to major after major and Scheffler’s overall dominance show that the PGA Tour still has enough appeal and power.
As for the boys from LIV Frat, when the innovation of all of them is gone, they should just open a few more stacks of cash and pretend they are not playing in a Sunday beer league.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armor on Twitter @nrarmour.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brooks Koepka and Saudi-backed LIV Golf No Real Threat to PGA Tour