LIV PGA Hypocrisy

There is so little to write about when covering golf that the slightest variation from the game’s white-bread norm is newsworthy. Because what happens in the game is infrequent and hard to see and takes little more than 90 seconds on Youtube (discounting the interminable ads, of course) discussing player’s fashion choices (Payne Stewart) sex addiction (Tiger Woods) or Saudi Arabia is about all the sports journos have to write about.

Thanks to LIV, the new Saudi-funded tournament, there is a lot to talk about, as talent to hit a golf ball must surely include an in-depth knowledge of the Kingdom, its customs and traditions. Who better to ask about Saudi Arabia than Phil Mickelson? Who has spent more time studying the nuances of the relationship between the United States and the Kingdom than Northern Ireland’s Rory McIllroy? Questions about the Islamic shari’a can be addressed to Bubba Watson, who surely must have expertise in this area.

John Daley hasn’t won a tournament in decades, but because he is “colorful” i.e., smokes, drinks, is unapologetically overweight and has a passion for Diet Coke, he is routinely granted sponsors’ exemptions anyway in a desperate effort to spice things up. Daly’s “non-country club appearance and attitude” (Wikipedia) have carried him far in a sport where homogeneity is king. Who are these sponsors anyway? Daly gets to play in PGA events, but a pro who played in a LIV tournament? God forbid.

Pro golfers, according to the PGA’s tax returns are independent contractors, except when they act like independent contractors and sell their services to the highest bidder. Then they’re something else, but exactly what no one knows. Foreign governments sponsoring professional athletics? The cheek!

But ask yourself if there would be the same reaction if Scotland, Spain or Japan—where golf is a legitimate religion—were sponsoring LIV instead. Probably not, which suggests that the controversy is merely masked Islamophobia, racism and good old American hate.

Sometimes I wish Eisenhower hadn’t taken up the game.