What is the best outcome for professional golf in 2023?
It has been yet another pinch-yourself type of week in the world of professional golf but then again, in many ways, that has been the theme of 2022; a year when the golfing world went into meltdown owing to the emergence of LIV Golf. On this particular occasion of surrealness, it was the Twitter admin of LIV Golf who decided to pass the time but asking those who follow the account to vote for their starting XI from the golfers contracted to the rebel league in order to celebrate the start of the World Cup in Qatar.
Incredibly, when the results came out, the man-mountain that is Bryson DeChambeau was playing left-back whilst 52-year-old Phil Mickelson was selected in the engine room of the team as a central midfielder. Up front was Sergio Garcia but it’s safe to say with Alvaro Morata expertly leading the line for Spain and with the majority of the World Cup bets being placed on the Spanish at 13/2 to win the showdown in the Middle East, that the 2017 Masters winner won’t be asked to swap his LIV membership for a career in football anytime soon.
Although with that being said, you imagine even if Luis Enrique did call Garcia up and tell him that a position was available for him in the colours of La Roja, that it’s unlikely that the 42-year-old would give up the eye-watering riches that come with being a part of LIV Golf. Indeed, this Saudi-backed league has successfully persuaded a large contingent of the world’s best to join the lucrative competition which has, for all intents and purposes, left the game of professional golf in a worrying state of limbo. In fact, the demise that many predicted for the LIV enterprise hasn’t happened, and if anything, it seems like the league is ending 2022 with a considerable amount of momentum.
With this in mind and given the precarious future that the professional game is facing, what would the best outcome be for the sport in 2023?
The time has come for open dialogue and reconciliation
As difficult as it will be to hear for those that are vehemently opposed to the concept of the LIV Golf League, the inescapable reality is that the time is fast approaching when compromises will have to be made by the PGA and European Tour. Admittedly, it’s not an outcome that anyone had envisioned but the fact of the matter is that this breakaway league is not going anywhere, especially when you consider that the organization’s financial backers are in it for the long haul and will happily burn through resources until it becomes the globe’s most popular golf tournament. In short, if both the PGA and European Tour want to stay relevant, they will have to reach an agreement with LIV Golf or relax their rules on those players who have signed with the league. Put another way, the traditional tours may have to remove all current suspensions of players competing in the LIV League.
Alternatively, should all the tours continue to dig their heels in then professional golf in 2023 will once again suffer and become even more fractured.