In this contentious edit, we break down the obvious and less obvious elements of this week’s legal bombshell, brave the increasingly personal divide the PGA Tour antitrust lawsuit has created, and celebrate a much-needed distraction at the Wyndham Championship.
The change you want. Before Wednesday’s trial sent the world of professional golf into an all-too-real John Grisham novel, the PGA Tour grabbed headlines by unveiling next season’s schedule which was highlighted by raises spectacular stock exchanges.
The size of the purse for eight invitational events will increase from $15 million to $25 million, along with significant increases to the circuit’s various bonus pools to $145 million.
Normally, when people say it’s not about the money, it’s always about the money. Whatever the talking points and geopolitical factor in professional golf’s growing divide, the one constant is money.
The Tour’s response to LIV Golf’s lucrative bidding war may have come, as former Augusta National president Hootie Johnson once said, “at bayonet point,” but for those who will be competing for a lot more money next year on the Tour, the talking points and geopolitics probably don’t matter.
Golf. Amid the legal wrangling and escalating vitriol lies the Tour’s regular season finale and plenty of playoff potential.
Every year at the Wyndham Championship, someone pulls off an 11th-hour rally and earns an unlikely playoff berth. That someone could be Brian Stuard this year.
Stuard started the week 137th on the Tour eligibility points list, but posted a 5-under 65 in the first round to move up to No. 124 on the projected list.
“I don’t have much to lose. I’m kind of not in a very good position, so I’m just trying to figure out how to play good golf again and see what happens,” he said.
It would be an impressive resurrection story if Stuard, who has missed eight of his first 10 cuts this season and has just two top-10 finishes, fights his way into next week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship.
Made Cut-didn’t finish (MDF)
A deep dive. The 11 suspended LIV Golf players who filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Tour on Wednesday were the focus of most reporting, but a deeper dive into the 105-page lawsuit revealed just how tedious this case could get.
In the lawsuit, which was brought by Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter and eight others, the players claim the Tour “also threatened businesses and individuals in the golf and sports production industry that they would be prohibited from working with the Tour if they work with LIV Golf.”
The lawsuit references nearly a dozen suppliers and companies that were to be ‘blacklisted'[ed]if they work with LIV Golf, from tech companies to broadcast networks.
The lawsuit also alleges that golf courses were advised not to host LIV events and claims, “The R&A punished a golf course owner by adopting a policy that he would not host the Open on his course going forward because he gives LIV Golf ‘a platform.'”
Whether any of those claims stand up to legal scrutiny remains to be seen, but this example from the documents filed Wednesday shows just how complicated it’s going to get.
Winners/losers 2022-23. The eight Tour events that will see significantly increased purses next season will certainly benefit from better fields and higher profiles, but beyond that, it’s not as clear how the new schedule will land.
The Wyndham Championship, for example, will likely play a bigger role as the final event of the regular season now that the list of automatic qualifiers has shrunk from the top 125 on the FedExCup points list to the top 70. But that remains to be seen. given what happens to the fall portion of the schedule.
Currently, there are nine events after the Tour Championship and starting next fall when these are removed from the FedExCup schedule, it is unclear if these existing events will simply transition to what the Tour considers as a qualifying series.
Without FedExCup event status or a Masters invitation offer, fall events are likely to disappear or become significantly less important.
It’s personal. The divide caused by those who bolted the Tour for LIV Golf had been largely civil among paying game types. Everything changed on Wednesday.
Antitrust lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California challenges the Tour’s status as a preeminent circuit and, in the short term, threatens to significantly disrupt the playoffs if a judge grants three player suspensions – Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones – a temporary injunction and allows them to play the opener of the playoffs next week.
The reaction of those who remained loyal to the Tour was no longer wary.
“They’re suing me. To me, it’s sad,” Ryan Palmer said. “They’re suing the 200 card-carrying members of the PGA Tour. .
Davis Love III went so far as to suggest Tour players could boycott events suspended LIV players are allowed to play and showed how personal it got when asked what he would say to the CEO. by LIV Golf, Greg Norman.
“I have nothing to say to him,” Love said.
Tweet of the week:
After a fair amount of concessions on Twitter, Dahmen added: