In the cash-packed upper echelons of pro golf, the amount of chatter about money and money out there seems to never stop. Indeed, he is relentless, and I am convinced the next time Lee Westwood is interviewed, he will open his mouth and a great torrent of coins and notes will crumble instead of actual words.
Westwood has confirmed, after weeks of speculation and rumors, that he will play in the inaugural event of the Greg Norman Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational Series at Centurion Club next month which includes a massive $25 million prize pool. The rebels, slowly but surely, raise their heads. Some of them seem to lose their heads, too. This makes for an unkempt scene.
As Westwood navigates some Wattabots to justify his decision to accept a bountiful payday as he transitions into the fall years of his career, Sergio Garcia has revealed his intentions in an even more exciting way.
During the Wells Fargo Championship, the Spaniard was informed – incorrectly, later appeared – by the PGA Tour rules official that he had run out of time allowed to find his ball in jeopardy. This provided incentive for the former Masters champion to explode into the tantrum you see in a supermarket aisle when a young child rushes for a box of chocolates and is frustrated by parental interference. “I can’t wait to leave this ride,” he exclaimed as the toys came out of the pram dashing out. “I can’t wait to get out of here. Two weeks later, I don’t have to deal with you anymore.”
It was a terribly egregious display of rudeness from a 42-year-old man with a history of crotch, childish plays and petty grievances. He should have been sent to bed without dinner for the rest of the season. With the same sense of entitlement that used to be a reserve for deranged Roman emperors, perhaps Garcia’s antics weren’t surprising.
From throwing his shoes into the crowd at Wentworth back in 1999 during a fit of grief to spitting in the hole at Doral, Garcia has built an elusive profile over the years. Gaining eligibility from Saudi International in 2019 due to deliberately damaging a number of greens with his racket was rock bottom. His latest explosion has added more intrigue to this persistent Saudi stooshi. Somewhat ironically, Garcia once blamed a major decline in his looks on the breakup of his relationship with Greg Norman’s daughter. Now he can’t wait to get close to her father and his endless pit of Saudi reserves.
Garcia, of course, is the perfect choice for the LIV Golf recruitment drive; At the age of 40, he is a veteran fighter and perhaps his best days are behind him. In the meantime, among the under-40s, which includes all of the game’s current and impulsive stars, there is still an unenthusiastic enthusiasm for the concept despite the heaps of amazing douches on offer. Money can’t buy you love. Well, not yet anyway.
If the likes of Garcia, Westwood and 49-year-old Richard Bland, who has also confirmed he will compete in the Centurion Club, cut the giant checks – the last place in next month’s event is worth nearly $120,000 – how long until others succumb to temptation and dip their bread On the gravy train?
On the same day that Westwood came under fire for taking the LIV Golf, Scottish Robert MacIntyre was widely praised for his comments on the current epic.
“At the end of the day, there is crazy, crazy money thrown at it,” McIntyre said of the staggering sums that get dumped in abundance. “If you ask me, it is obscene money to be thrown into the sport. There is a lot of money that a human needs.”
McIntyre is a young, successful founder with a tight head. He could teach a few of his elders a polite thing or two because the men’s end-game power struggle was growing more ugly than ever.
Meanwhile, the golfer audience may not care about all the hype. The professional game, after all, makes up a small percentage of the wider golf system. As the famous American writer, George Pepper, once observed at a Golf Writers Association dinner several years ago: “If professional golf were to disappear from the ground tomorrow, golfers all over the world would notice a moment of silence and then go straight to playing the game they love. They were. They hardly notice the disappearance of professional tours. Golf will continue.”
For now, though, golf’s obsession with money still causes a lot of problems.
From Saudi Arabia to Portland, find out which courses are hosting the LIV Golf Invitational Series in 2022