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The Majors Have Extended The Olive Branch – Now It’s Time For LIV To Reciprocate

LIV PGAT and PGA of America Logos with golf course background

The 2024 PGA Championship made for one of the most fantastic and unforgettable majors in recent memory.

LIV Golf was well represented over the weekend with Crushers GC Captain Bryson DeChambeau coming within one stroke to tie to eventual winner Xander Schauffele.

Stinger GC player and recent LIV Miami champion, Dean Burmester was the surprise of the weekend, not only making the cut but having a fantastic Friday and Saturday before eventually finishing the tournament with a score of 12-under, good for T12. 

Previous reigning PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka looked solid the first two rounds before having a rough Saturday with a score of 3-over.

Koepka would bounce back strong for his final round and finish a respectable 9-unde, good for T26.

Rounding out the LIV golfers who made the weekend cut: Joaquin Neimann (T39), DJ (T43) Lucas Herbert(T43) who looked like an outside contender by the end of Saturday before a Sunday collapse, Patrick Reed (T53), Talor Gooch (T60), Cam Smith (T63), and Martin Kaymer (T73) who continued his rejuvenating season. 

There were several reasons why this PGA Championship might be the most memorable major in recent history, chief among them, fairly or not, was the debacle surrounding Scottie Scheffler and the eventual fallout that will assuredly occur between the PGA, Valhalla Golf Club, and the Louisville mayor’s office.

Aside from the most shocking news in recent sports history, we had Xander Schauffele finally winning his first major and forever shaking the ‘best player without a major’ reputation, Schauffele and Lowry shooting a record-tying 62 on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, and a dramatic Sunday finish that saw DeChambeau rise to the top and Morikawa slowly fall out of contention. 

Perhaps most important was that this PGA Championship was one of the best made-for-television tournaments in recent memory.

This was due not only in part to the aforementioned points, but it was the first time that a PGA-sponsored event hosted such a large number of LIV golfers, and not just the big names and automatic exemptions like Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, and Bryson DeChambeau.

It was amazing for LIV fans to see the special invitees like Dean Burmester and Lucas Herbert to climb the leaderboards to the top ten or fifteen and make a surprise push into contention.

Let us be clear, the PGA of America did not need to grant the special invitations, but they did, and everyone, especially the fans, benefitted from it.

It is undebatable that the field was that much better with the best and most deserving golfers present. Inclusion, not exclusivity, paid off big. It’s time for LIV to repay the favor. 

The State of Play

Revelations surrounding the proposed PGA-PIF deal remain obscure, perhaps more than ever after the sudden and surprising resignation of PGA Tour policy board member Jimmy Dunne and then Mark Flaherty a week later.

What we do know is that last year the PGA allowed its golfers to attend the LIV Golf Promotions event in Abu Dhabi.

The promotional event led to Kalle Samooja, Kiernan Vincent, and Jinichiro Kozuma joining LIV as full-time participants and members of Cleeks GC, Legion XIII, and Iron Heads GC, respectively.  

Those who currently play on the PGA Tour are prohibited from participating in a regular season LIV Golf Event.

To do so could be seen as accepting a permanent invitation from LIV Golf. PGA Golfers who have done this in the past, most notably Jon Rahm, have been locked out of the PGA Tour.

Those players who defected, did so on a permanent basis, often joining one of LIV’s thirteen official teams. 

To public knowledge, no LIV golfer has been offered an invitation to compete at a regular season US-based PGA Tour event.

Several LIV golfers such as Joaquin Neimann, Dean Burmester, and Louis Oosthuizen have been free to partake in The Asian Tour when LIV is not hosting a tournament.

Strong performances at The Asian Tour are what landed Joaquin Neimann a special invite to the Masters, but in the case of 2023 LIV Individual Champion Talor Gooch, The PGA Championship invited him purely on his results from LIV Golf.

The Diplomatic Rapprochement

After dealing out several special invitations to LIV golfers to the PGA Championship, the ball is now squarely in LIV’s court.

There are two options available. The first would be ill-advised, to stand pat and do nothing.

This option maintains the status quo, leaving both parties with hurt feelings and egos, and solves absolutely nothing. Furthermore, it keeps fans out in the cold. 

The second option would be to build on the momentum gained at the PGA Championship and have LIV extend invites to PGA Tour Golfers. 

Even though the PGA Tour will not officially let its golfers play in a regular season LIV tournament, this option is both diplomatically savvy and serves a tactical purpose. 

First, the gesture of goodwill has officially been extended, memorialized in writing, and submitted in the public arena.

LIV puts itself in a win-win situation, as the move signals that the bad feelings have been put behind. Should the PGA Tour allow their players to participate in an individual event, it would serve as a beta test and nothing committal, everyone gets the benefit of seeing better golf.

Tactically, this provides the perfect opportunity for LIV to show PGA players the benefits of 54-hole tournaments, bigger payouts, and a more relaxed workplace.

Joking aside, LIV golfers have attested that one of their favorite benefits is that they can wear shorts to tournaments. 

The Framework

The framework for inviting additional players to a single event is simplistic, with the major hurdle being that the PGA allow their players to attend without any negative repercussions occurring to those who take the invite.

  • A single regular season event is chosen to host 4 or 8 additional golfers currently playing on the PGA Tour.
    • Invites are sent to the top one hundred PGA golfers. Players higher in standing get preference but have a limited time to respond. For example, the Top 25 PGA Tour Golfers receive an automatic invitation and have a week to reply. Preference goes to the highest-ranked individual. Declination to the invitation or no response results in invitations being sent to the next twenty-five individuals, and so on.
    • The group(s) of four PGA golfers are each placed into a temporary PGA team(s). Proper team placement allows the new golfers to win additional purse money set aside for teams that win or make a podium finish.
    • Individual cash awards are handed out as usual without bias.
  • A tournament site and date are agreed upon by consensus. The tournament should not conflict with a PGA signature event, a major championship, or any end-of-season tournament.
    • The remaining prime candidate for the 2024 season is LIV Golf at JCB Country Club, United Kingdom (July 26 – 28).
    • The UK event conflicts with the 3M Open, but 3M does not traditionally attract the top PGA Golfers. Choosing such an event would not be misconstrued as “watering down” an existing PGA tournament.
    • Alternatively, the leagues may ultimately decide on a date in 2025, such as late February / early March or early August that does not conflict with an aforementioned tournament or event.
  • Upon conclusion of the inaugural event, both sides should meet periodically to review and discuss the possibility of:
    • Performing another event of similar or the same format
    • Expanding to the invitational cross-over event to hold more than one event per season
    • Agree on a singular date and establish future locations for an annually held event

After an amazing weekend of golf, the fans will once again wait and see if both sides can strike a deal.

While the two league formats have their differences, one thing is for certain, more inclusion makes for better golf.