At the most important golf tournament in the world in Augusta, the pros from two contested tournament series meet again for the first time. The US Masters will be the scene of the duel between the opponents from the PGA and LIV tours. So far there has been no sign of hostilities at the Augusta National Golf Club. But the dispute continues to smolder.
There are cheeseburgers and there are cheeseburger sliders from the Augusta National Golf Club kitchen. Almost tenderly, the chefs drape the salad with thin slices of gherkin and tomato onto the already perfectly roasted beef and two pieces of cheese each. Finally, they brush the sliced sesame buns with a little fat before everything can be stacked and served.
At the Champions Dinner, the previous year’s winner of the world’s most important golf tournament determines the order of the menu. And because the American Scottie Scheffler won the Masters a year ago, this time the world number one was allowed to choose his favorite meal for the meeting of all former winners, who came together in Augusta in their green winner’s jackets.
Professionals from the PGA and LIV Tour together again at the start for the first time
What was special about the Champions Dinner this year: With cheeseburgers, ribeye steak and chocolate tarts, the pros on the PGA tour around superstar Tiger Woods met the renegade rivals of the LIV tournament series. Before the 87th Masters, all professionals and ex-professionals were visibly trying not to openly flaunt the differences between the two camps.
Everyone put on their widest grins for the obligatory group photo at the festive banquet. Even Phil Mickelson managed a delicate smile, although he is said to have spent the evening largely isolated at the end of the table. “He didn’t speak at all ,” said former champion Fuzzy Zoeller.
17 of the 88 starters from the LIV tournament series
The hostilities between the PGA pros and LIV golfers are deliberately not to be brought to the fore in Augusta. But they are always a topic. No press conference without at least one question about the smoldering conflict. “It’s going to be really funny because they hate us ,” said Chilean Joaquin Niemann, for example, who otherwise tees off for LIV, with a view to the tournament. Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy said: “The more time we spend together, the easier it will be to deal with the situation.”
For the first time, the pros of the unloved LIV are allowed to tee off in full force at a major tournament on the PGA Tour. 17 of the 88 starters come from the LIV tournament series, including former Masters winners Bubba Watson , Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith and Phil Mickelson.
Allegation against LIV: “Sportwashing” for the Saudi regime
All of them have answered the call of big money over the past year and are now playing across the globe for the tour created by ex-pro Greg Norman, which showers its players with monies from the Saudi Arabian regime. From the start it rained heavy criticism. The accusation: The Saudi royal family is trying to do “sportwashing” with the glossy events and distract from the numerous human rights violations or the alleged murder of regime critic Jamal Khashoggi.
The PGA Tour, on the other hand, fears for its almost undisputed status as the most important golf series in the world and for its income – even if the TV ratings of the LIV tournaments have so far been disappointing. LIV players banned the US pro series from their tournaments. She only granted an exception for the major tournaments, such as the US Masters.
“If one of our guys wins, everyone else on the 18th green will be there ,” said Chilean Joaquin Niemann. So far, however, he has been pretty much alone on Magnolia Lane with provocative statements like this one. Even Rory McIlroy, who is otherwise so critical of the LIV tour, struck up a conciliatory tone.
Smith: “They say we don’t play real golf”
“It’s just great that the best players in the world are together again. It seems to me that that hasn’t been the case for a long time,” said last year’s second. And yet it is clear that the competitive situation between the pros on the PGA and LIV tours will determine what happens in the tournament.
Australia’s Cameron Smith, who has also joined LIV , put it bluntly: “There’s a lot of talk that we don’t play real golf and that we don’t play on real courses. But we want to prove that’s not the case. “
Judgment in court dispute between LIV and European Tour
Spicy: A few hours before the start of the Masters, twelve professionals on the LIV tour in London suffered a judicial defeat on Thursday. The players had competed in LIV Golf’s inaugural event the previous year, despite applications being rejected by the DP World Tour, formerly European Tour.
They appealed the £100,000 fine that was subsequently imposed. The appeal has now been rejected and they must pay the fine. The arbitral tribunal ruled that the DP World Tour had “acted entirely reasonably”. It’s not the only legal battle. Antitrust proceedings between the LIV and the PGA are pending in the USA .