The champion was kicked out. The American golf circuit, the PGA Tour, began the season this Thursday with the dispute in Hawaii of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the tournament which brings together the winners of the previous course and the 50 best of the FedEx Cup. there should be Jon Rahm, who in 2023 has been crowned four times: in the same Sentry, American Express, Genesis and Augusta Masters. But the Basque, world number three, slammed the door and signed for LIV, the Saudi league, so the PGA kicked him.
So, with one eye on the game and the other on the dancing of millions, world golf begins. The previous fiscal year ended with an email sent by Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour, to players shortly before midnight. This was the limit that the rectors of the North American circuit and the leaders of the PIF, the Saudi Sovereign Fund, had set for themselves in June to unify the calendar and put aside the disputes that have divided the sport. But time is running out and Monahan explains to the golfers that the deadline has been extended, with a view to 2025, and that negotiations are continuing with the PIF, the European Tour and an American investment fund, Strategic Sports Group, which would make it possible to alleviate dependence. on petrodollars.
The Saudi turn is inevitable. Rahm’s departure was a huge blow to the PGA; the legendary Royal and Ancient, one of the organizations that govern world golf, is studying the promotion of the sport in Arabia; and even Rory McIlroy, still very bellicose with the new league, softens his position. “Maybe I judged the guys who went to LIV. It was a mistake on my part. I wouldn’t say I’ve lost the battle, but I accept the fact that they are part of our sport. “They managed to completely disrupt our game with their money,” said the Northern Irishman, understanding with “Rahm’s intelligent commercial approach”. McIlroy resigned from the PGA board, another symbol of the confidence that has grown among players in the American Tour. “They see us as workers and not as members. We are the PGA Tour. Without us, there is no circuit,” laments another figure, the Norwegian Viktor Holvand, winner of the FedEx. And some sponsors like Honda and Wells Fargo have pulled out.
Rahm has packed his bags (he will debut on February 2 in Mexico) and McIlroy aspires to a peace which will be complex: “I hope that we will be united again, even if there are people on both sides who do not don’t want this to happen. The LIV guys don’t want to go back to the PGA because they don’t feel treated well. And those at the PGA don’t want to deal with those who left either. But people need to leave their egos behind so we can all move forward, which would be the best thing for golf.
The war continues in an unusual scenario. Never in history has golf distributed so much money as in 2023. Never have so many players won so much. According to a calculation by Golf Digest and Have golf, 271 golfers exceeded $1 million in earnings last year. The majority, 139, come from the American circuit; 49 in LIV, all having played at least six tournaments; 32 on the men’s European circuit; 28 on the LPGA, 19 on the Champions Tour… Among these 271 are nine Spaniards: Rahm, Sergio García, David Puig, Eugenio López-Chacarra, Jorge Campillo, Pablo Larrazábal, Adrian Otaegui, Carlota Ciganda and Miguel Ángel Jiménez.
American Talor Gooch, middle class in LIV, was last year the golfer who ever raised the most money in 12 months: 35 million dollars after winning in Adelaide, Singapore and Valderrama and obtaining the individual ranking of the Saudi league. Scheffler, world number one and named PGA Best of the Year ahead of Rahm, raked in $21 million by winning the Phoenix and The Players crowns and accumulating 15 top tens in 21 tournaments; Rahm grew to 17, plus a bonus nine for the Player Impact Program… And 2024 marks a new record. For starters, the Sentry is giving away $3.6 million in prizes, which is $900,000 more than last year.
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