While the football world reacted in unison to kibosh any plans of a breakaway league, the PGA Tour, writes Alex Perry, were playing their own part in distancing themselves from reality
Hello. Welcome to this week’s edition of The Slam. It’s been an incredibly fraught week in the world of sports and, thanks to the PGA Tour, golf is in the firing line. Let’s dive straight in…
The rich get richer
Fair play if you’ve managed to avoid the biggest talking point in the world of sport this week.
Whether you’re a football fan or not, you’ll have heard plenty about the European Super League, an exclusive breakaway tournament concocted by the owners of 12 of Europe’s richest football teams with the sole purpose of monopolising the sport and, of course, making a handful of billionaires a few more euros.
Now we’re all too familiar with this sort of chat in golf circles.
There has been talk of world tours for a long time – most recently in the form of the Premier Golf League – a proposed Saudi-backed 18-event league that would see players who already have bank accounts showing numbers beyond their wildest dreams compete for more obscene amounts.
Like the European Super League, the PGL struggled to get off the ground because fans and, most importantly, players weren’t on board. It was dealt a pretty huge blow when Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – at the time the top three ranked players in the world – revealed they wouldn’t be making the switch, while McIlroy also said he couldn’t see Tiger Woods being interested.
The PGA Tour and European Tour soon announced a new partnership and the PGL was firmly put in its place.
So why on earth have the PGA Tour decided that the best way to deal with a non-existent threat is to throw more cash at the problem?
As revealed by Golfweek, the PGA Tour has launched the Player Impact Program. Or PIP because, you know, that’s cuter.
The PIP will feature a $40 million bonus pool divided up among the 10 players deemed to have the biggest impact on promoting publicity and engagement for the PGA Tour – including an $8 million payday for whoever comes out on top.
The top 10 will be determined using a combination of metrics that decipher the value a player adds to the tour, including a golfer’s Google search popularity.
I know what you’re thinking. If Adam Scott sets up an OnlyFans account he’s set for life.
The biggest criticism of the European Super League was that it removed the value of competition. What is the point of those teams trying to perform well in their domestic leagues if they knew they already had a place at Europe’s top table guaranteed?
The same could be argued of the PIP.
When asked about it, Kevin Kisner joked that “$40 million is a good reason to be more active on social media”.
And you would have to be incredibly cynical to think it was no coincidence that Woods’ first photograph posted on his social media channels since his horrific car accident came just days after this announcement. But here we are. It’s in your brain now.
Sure, winning titles is great. But why would a player bother spending time on their short game when they could just chill at home and work on their rapport game?
Players are rewarded for their popularity in the shape of sponsorship. This is an own goal from the PGA Tour, who’s financial support of players should be in prize money and prize money only.
Henderson holds off Korda in LA
It was an exciting week on the LPGA Tour where Brooke Henderson secured the LA Open thanks to a 4-under-par final round that saw off Jessica Korda.
Henderson now has 10 LPGA titles – including a major. She’s 23. Astonishing.
Always the bridesmaid
Last week Max Kieffer lost on the fifth play-off hole to John Catlin. Eventually, a very messy eight on the par-3 18th sealed his fate, but did that dampen his spirits? Absolutely not.
Kieffer picked himself up and put on a show in Gran Canaria, shooting a final-round 62.
Unfortunately for the German, Garrick Higgo carded back-to-back weekend rounds of 63 to take the title.
At this point, Kieffer must be asking what he has to do to get a first European Tour win, especially as he is a combined 36-under-par in his last two events.
A win isn’t far away, we’re sure.
Mullets on tour
One of the great things about the Zurich Classic is the weekend walk-ons, allowing players to show off their personality through their often questionable taste in music.
One particular pair stole the show for this week – so the best walk-on award goes to…
Marc Leishman looked to be in his element – but, as he explained, it’s not always easy being Cam Smith…
Is the mullet making a comeback? Don’t hold your breath. Smith revealed that he was going to chop it off if they won – which they did thanks to a play-off victory over the South African pair of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.
When you consider the length of time that Graeme McDowell has been on tour, it’s remarkable to think he is yet to have a hole-in-one in competitive action – until now.
What’s even more remarkable is he didn’t even bother watching it go in…
Also nice to see Matt Wallace playing it cool…
Right, that’s enough from me.
Have a good one folks. See you next week.
- Additional reporting by Barry Plummer