It’s that time of year when the best players in the world descend upon Muirfield Village Golf Club for the Memorial Tournament – Jack’s tournament.
Seven of the world’s top 10 and 10 of the top 20 players in the FedEx Cup standings are in Ohio this week, looking for the lion’s share of the elevated $20 million purse.
However, two players who aren’t teeing it up are Brooks Koepka and Cam Smith – the most recent winners of the PGA Championship and the Open Championship.
But Nicklaus isn’t concerned by their absence.
“I don’t really consider those guys part of the game anymore,” Nicklaus told the media on Tuesday, “and I don’t mean that in a nasty way… or really mean it that way.
“To me, this is a PGA Tour event and we’ve got the best field we can possibly have on the PGA Tour. Those who are eligible to be here. The other guys made a choice to go where they went. We don’t really talk about it.
“They’ve made a choice for what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. And that’s fine. I don’t have any issue with any of those guys.
“I see six or seven of them who are members at the Bear’s Club (Nicklaus’ club in Florida). It’s not an issue.
“They get along with the guys fine. It’s just where they chose to play golf. And I look at what the PGA Tour is and who the members are – and they’ve actually spurred the PGA Tour to get better.”
The emergence of LIV Golf has certainly had significant repercussions on this tournament the Golden Bear hosts as it has become one of the chosen designated events.
The Memorial has been won by great players in the past, no less than five times by Tiger Woods, and has always attracted a strong field. Bryson DeChambeau won the event in 2018 – four years before making his move to LIV Golf.
But, its designated status has cemented its position as a prestigious stop on the PGA Tour calendar. It is the ninth elevated purse event on the 2023 schedule so far.
There is a $25 million purse on offer at each LIV event, while players can also cash in bonuses based on their team’s performances too.
Each LIV Golf invitational features just 48 players and innovations such as shotgun starts, 54-hole events, and a staggering $4 million prize for the winner.
“I think the guys who have stayed on the PGA Tour, for the most part, are guys who play golf for the game of golf,” Nicklaus added, winner of 18 major championships and 73 PGA Tour events.
“I was all about how good I could be in the sport and the money just took care of itself. Some guys might not really care about playing golf, they’re just pretty good at it. It’s a means to an end to them. And if that’s what it is, that’s fine.”
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