LIV’s 54-hole struggles are only beginning to shake his credibility


The greatest accomplishment I’ve covered in 56 years as a sportswriter was the 2000 US Open in Pebble Beach. The Treasure by the Ocean was more than solid and most of the field of 156 players were clearly defeated by these conditions.

Not 24-year-old Tiger Woods. He finished 72 holes at 12 under par. Ernie Els, then 30 and at the peak of his immense skill, finished second on 3 overs.

The 15-shot lead was a record for the four tournaments that count as majors:

US Open (dating from 1895), British Open (1860), Masters (1934) and PGA Championship (stroke play since 1958).

The biggest lead to date was 13 strokes from Old Tom Morris when he hit an eighth at the 1862 British Open. This third Open was played in Prestwick, Scotland over three rounds of 12 holes.

Perhaps that’s the legacy of the LIV Invitational Golf Series – if the British Open could start as a three-round competition over 160 years ago, why can’t the three rounds (and 54 holes) of LIV be considered fully valid? in big men’s golf?

Because that’s not how it’s worked for 130 years, since the British Open became a 72-hole event in 1892.

Men’s championship golf is meant to be a grind – first a chance to walk away with 36 mediocre holes, then an opportunity to let a tournament walk away with an awkward twitch on two more long, pressured days.

There is no other reason the World Golf Rankings regulators require to ignore the results achieved at the Saudi-funded golf course: 54 holes.

Do what you have to do to attract players like Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, who would prefer a bare minimum of golf for their hundreds of millions, but 54 holes doesn’t equate to men’s championship golf. 36 holes qualifying, then match play. OK, that works.

What doesn’t work is LIV. The message from the ranking list holders should be clear: You want to collect points, Saudis, switch to the LXXII Invitational Golf Series.

It is a wonderful twist of fate that the Saudis’ primary frontman is Greg Norman. No one in modern golf would be better served by playing 54-hole men’s championship golf than Norman.

He was the shark on Saturday night that often became the carp on Sunday afternoon. And he was a guppy on April 14, 1996 when he went into the finals of the Masters six shots up, staggered to a 6-over-78 and lost to Nick Faldo by five shots.

Sports Illustrated golf writer Rick Reilly wrote, “Where there’s a Sunday head start for Norman, there’s always a Sunday banana peel.”

And the non-championship distance isn’t the most grotesque violation of tradition, which golf has more of than any of our major sports, including baseball.

I mean, we just watched the US Open being played at The Country Club, a course in suburban Boston that was originally laid out in 1893 – a course where Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old amateur who was on the grew up across the street, in 1913 Offen won.

And somehow, with modifications of course, that sacred ground stood as a test for this generation of tee-box bombardiers.

A few standout players missed the 36 hole cut this week in June and were sent home. That’s the miracle of golf – you have to earn it every week.

Unless you play LIV. Forty-eight players, a cast that changes with new names, take the guaranteed millions and toast others, but always 48, with no cut.

On Tuesday, a California judge refused to grant an injunction that would have allowed three LIV defectors — Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford — to compete in this weekend’s FedEx Cup Playoff opener in Memphis.

At one point, an attorney for the plaintiffs suggested that the generous prize money won at LIV events was in fact “recoiled” by those large signing bonuses. Brandel Chamblee, a vocal LIV critic from The Golf Channel, had tweeted this much earlier and was mocked. LIV officials quickly denied what their own attorney had suggested.

However, LIV is not championship golf. It’s 54 holes, no cut, no pressure, no tradition.

It’s a “friendly” game, like a soccer game, but on a bigger pitch.

Tiger can’t play much anymore, and yet he turned down hundreds of millions to attend the Saudi carnival. This could be his second-biggest triumph after Pebble Beach in 2000.


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