How the PGA Tour can stave off LIV Golf’s latest threat by becoming more appealing to young stars

As LIV Golf continues to build its collection of golfers by attempting to lure current talent from the PGA Tour, they have quietly made a move over the weekend that may go unnoticed. little but possibly the most lasting significance of anything that has happened in the past two months. They went after the future.

LIV Golf has signed amateur tennis player No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra of Oklahoma State, who will make his professional debut in the Portland event this weekend. Chacarra Was informed his intention was to return to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for a super senior year (an extra year of eligibility granted amid COVID-19), but the number of LIV contracts had apparently skyrocketed to the point where he forced decision must be changed.

This is part of his most recent Instagram post explaining the decision.

In April, I announced that I wanted to play another year at Oklahoma State, and I am delighted to continue playing for Coach Bratton and Coach Darr and with all of my teammates. However, I recently received an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime train rides.

Chacarra wasn’t wrong on the once-in-a-lifetime part. Although the number is not known, Chacarra almost certainly has a contract equivalent to the Texas star and the first teammate of the Big 12 Pierceson Coody is said to have been provided. Coody describes his offer from LIV Golf as “a multi-million dollar offer.”

Regardless of your opinions on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tournament, this development represents a major problem for the PGA Tour as it involves a future source of players. The best golf talent in the world.

Currently, the PGA Tour has narrow path into its ecosystem where a four-year college player must finish fifth in the designated PGA TourU leaderboard to earn automatic placement in its minor league system, the Korn Ferry Tour. The routes for finishers outside the top five are even tighter.

On the other hand, LIV Golf could simply sign multi-year contracts with the university’s superstar talents, whether they have completed four years of college or not, with multi-year contracts. Those prospects will either go directly to their premier league or perhaps get a few Asian Tour starters first. What do you think the average 22-year-old will do when they have a seven-figure deal on his desk?

Of course, the PGA Tour cannot guarantee a contract as it is a 501(c)6 organization. This makes it the perfect tournament to pay off rewards based but perhaps not so perfect. to secure future talent. While the population share of golf (even if it involves money) Definitely romantic and what you can hope the world will be like one day, it won’t matter if LIV Golf ends that compensation mechanism in the future.

“[Scottie Scheffler’s] Recently, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said: “If you’re good enough, you’ll rise to the top; and if you don’t continue to earn that top spot, someone else hungry and talented will be right there to take your place. Once again, that’s the unique beauty of what the tour has been and always will be for the fans. It’s good and worth the fight. “

The question is not whether it was a game worth having, but whether future golfers would feel the same if the economy were not equal.

It also runs deeper than that. Consider Coody, an obvious future star. He won Live and Work at the Maine Open last week to move up to number 31 on the Korn Ferry Tour’s earn list. The top 25 on that list each year will get some slots on the PGA Tour next season.

You know what’s going to be interesting this week on the PGA Tour? Watch Coody compete in the John Deere Classic, which has a pitch lacking notable stars and could use a shot to the hand from an exciting, young talent.

You know who doesn’t like to do that? Coody, who now has to figure out how many of the last eight Korn Ferry Tour events he needs to play in order to earn enough points into the top 25 and earn next year’s PGA Tour season pass. The golfer does not receive Korn Ferry Tour points at PGA Tour events, meaning he is discouraged from playing at the major tournaments.

If this sounds familiar, it happened to another famous Texas golfer almost a decade ago.

Jordan Spieth is Try to put jigsaw puzzles together made it to the PGA Tour as a rookie in 2013. He had just made the top 10 on the Korn Ferry Tour (later the Tour) and had to make the crucial decision of whether he should chase points or not on the PGA Tour. Chile on the Korn Ferry Tour or play with a sponsor waiver in Puerto Rico on the PGA Tour.

Spieth’s career went according to plan in a Colombian club. After finishing T7 at the Tour’s season-opening event in Panama, Spieth followed with 4th place in Colombia. His finish gave him a start in next week’s event in Chile and is only about $4,000 short of earning status for the rest of the season.

Issue. He also received an invite to the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open. It was the first invitation he received, on New Year’s Eve. Spieth weighed his options inside the Golf Club de Bogota clubhouse.

“John Peterson was there, some tour officials were there, saying, ‘Hey man, this is the smart thing to do. You need to go down to Chile and get your ( Tour) pass. me’,” said Spieth.

Even so, Spieth wants to honor his commitment to the Puerto Rico Open. He also has about a dozen friends and family who come to the island to watch him play. Its tropical location, and the fact that it coincides with Spring Break have made it an ideal destination.

Spieth was already an American, 12-year-old Major Player of the Year, two-time American Amateur Junior Champion and one of the biggest stars in amateur and college golf at the time, and here it is. he is trying Navigate the golf maze like a pro to get into the top league.

Some might say that is the beauty of meritocracy. Others might lament that it’s a vulnerable spot on the PGA Tour that’s about to be ravaged by a rival tournament.

There is no professional sports league stopping future young stars from rising to the top. Imagine the Memphis Grizzlies drafted Ja Morant a few years ago and put him in the G-League. This will never happen, but imagine it did. And then imagine the Grizzlies trying to wake up Morant to get their fan base excited with the league office do not encourage them to do so. It’s a tough way to run an organization.

Many have pointed to Major League Baseball, which in fact has many of its stars in the minor leagues. The difference in MLB are the best of those players who, like the LIV golfers, are well compensated when they step into the meat grinder of professional sports. PGA Tour players are not compensated at all, and while they can secure sponsorship in a variety of ways that other athletes don’t due to the specific nature of golf marketing, it is difficult to let the league declare “anyone can do it” when in fact you have to be heavily funded just to start the journey.

Then there is the question of what to do with players like Akshay Bhatia, who turned pro as a teenager after a decorated amateur career that included the Walker Cup and rose to the top. 5 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. In the pre-LIV world of Golf, it seemed relatively logical that such a number of people would be forced to take small tours and Monday qualifiers to find their way. Now, though? It’s easy to see golfers like Bhatia being coveted by LIV for money and guaranteed status on the Asian Tour if not a spot in the major tournaments.

LIV has cast a lot of doubt on three concepts: professional golfers as independent contractors, the PGA Tour as a 503(c)6 tournament, and dignified compensation as an opportunity. compensation mechanism. Even if LIV didn’t exist, there’s still a world in which another startup could make a copy of what LIV is doing without Saudi Arabia’s sporting cleanup. This is what startups do.

LIV has its own problems with young talent. It’s hard to nurture young stars without context, and these 54-hole pistol-starting events still have no context. Perhaps some newly signed talent – Chacarra or last year’s US Amateur winner James Piot – could qualify and compete in majors for some attention and some exaggeration, but it’s a rare achievement for a 22-year-old and something that may not happen for several years. There is also a question about Can LIV golfers stay sharp enough to compete in major championships.

As always, it goes back to the OWGR points, to which the LIV applied. If they are approved, successful LIV players will be able to combine it in majors.

In the future, the PGA Tour maybe removed its non-profit status, and it maybe invest in future talent. That’s not the way things have been on tour before, but it could be what the future calls for.

The path Coody took – refusing the money guarantee and trying his hand at a ruthless tournament like the Korn Ferry Tour – was not the path of least resistance and may not be the path most golfers take. Future. The PGA Tour has to make sure it adjusts before too many young stars turn to LIV when they leave college. Otherwise, at some point the tide may change and be too difficult to turn back.

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