LIV Golf: Why Brooks, Bryson, And Others Chose The Rival Tour

LIV Golf, (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via Getty Images)
LIV Golf, (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via Getty Images) /

The golfers who have committed to LIV golf exhibitions are in back-peddling mode now.  In every press conference they are asked why they jumped ship. The answers are as different as the golfers.

For Brooks Koepka, it seems to be about his physical condition and the money.

“What I’ve had to go through the last two years on my knees, the pain, the rehab, all this stuff, you realize, you know, I need a little bit more time off,” he explained about his particular situation in his first LIV press conference. “I’ll be the first one to say it, it’s not been an easy last couple of years.”

In other words, Koepka doesn’t know how much longer his body is going to hold up, and having cash in hand is his insurance policy.  At the Ryder Cup last fall, he said he was like glass because his knees were so breakable.

If he has a two-year or three-year contract, he may be lucky to get through all the upcoming LIV exhibitions without further problems. He thinks having more time off will help him play better in the events in the future. But name an athlete who got better as he got older.

For Sergio Garcia, it was about spending more time with his family while still providing for them. He also believes it is the future of golf.

“I think that this is a great opportunity, not only to do what I love, which is playing golf, but at the same time be able to spend more time with my family,” Garcia noted in his recent LIV press conference. “I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old so it’s nice to watch them grow as much as possible.”

Garcia pointed out that he’s been a professional for 24 years and supported both the European and PGA Tours.  For his trouble, he’s earned $50 million on the PGA Tour and 31 million Euros on the European Tour.

LIV, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, PGA Tour, LIV Golf
Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, LIV Golf, (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf/via Getty Images) /

However, it’s possible Garcia may never play on a Ryder Cup team again, or be a captain or assistant, depending on what the European Tour and  PGA decide about LIV players. Garcia has the all-time European points record in the history of the contest with 28.5 points in all.  More than Seve Ballesteros. More than Nick Faldo.

Martin Kaymer, former U.S. Open and PGA champ, thinks transparency on the part of the European Tour and the PGA Tour and taking meetings with the LIV group could have helped.

"“It would have been great for many years to evaluate all the options that all the tours have and that we can all decide together, that we can sit down at the table as adults, find a solution that is not only good for individuals, for the whole Tour, for all the members,” Kaymer added."

Interestingly, Kaymer cited the loneliness of the life of a touring professional, so one has to wonder if he is temperamentally suited to the demands of his career.

Byron Nelson, for example, often dealt with a nervous stomach before playing under pressure.  He played only until he won as much money as he needed to buy a ranch and a herd of cattle.  Then he quit.

Lee Westwood noted his disappointment with the European Tour’s response to the LIV exhibitions.

“I’ve been a European Tour member for 29 years, and a lot of those years I’ve also been a member of the PGA TOUR, as well,” Westwood noted in his LIV press conference.

"“As long as I’ve played before, have never had any problems with me playing anywhere else, and now it seems to be a problem.”"

As a group, the three think there should have been a way to work things out.

They are not thinking of the health of the PGA Tour and European Tours.  They are thinking about what’s best only for them personally, which is to play wherever they want whenever they want for as much money as they can get.

There’s nothing wrong with that except that golf is not organized that way, today, and it has not been since the formation of the PGA Tour and the European Tour.  Each Tour has had membership requirements, although those have changed over the years.

Though he doesn’t mention it specifically, Bryson DeChambeau’s reasons may be like Brooks Koepka’s in that his body may also have a limited shelf life due to what he has done in chasing distance.  Yes, it helped him win a U.S. Open, but it resulted in a broken bone in his hand, causing him to sit out for months.

Still, he thinks LIV exhibitions allow him more time to rest and recover from the training he does.

For DeChambeau, some of the attraction was about the money, and some of it was being different, which he likes to do.

“I run and operate my golf as a business as well as wanting to be one of the better players in the world,” DeChambeau explained about his decision.

"“Joining LIV was going to give me more resources and opportunities to reinvest in my local community, in Dallas, and back at my original home in California where I can do things for junior golf tours, improve my foundation.”"

LIV, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, PGA Tour, LIV Golf
Bryson DeChambeau, Matthew Wolff, Abraham Ancer, LIV Golf, (Photo by Jamie Squire/LIV Golf via Getty Images) /

He also plans to donate or raise some money for the National Kidney Foundation because they helped his dad locate a kidney when a transplant was needed.

The multi-tasker is also in the process of building a multi-sport complex in Dallas, and the cash will help with that project.

DeChambeau also thinks that there should be world ranking points for the exhibitions.  He cited the Tiger Woods event in the late fall as a short field tournament that provides points. Just a point for DeChambeau to consider:  He’s Tiger Woods.

Matthew Wolff, who was having problems with adjusting to life on the PGA Tour, said it was all about financial security and independence, as well as time off.

“I’m very social,” he said at his LIV press conference.

"“For me, my family is important. My friends are important.  It’s been hard to be able to make time to go see them and go hang out with them, and it’s something that I feel like I’ve definitely been lacking in my life.”"

He thinks the LIV schedule will allow him to put more balance in his life.

Wolff, along with DeChambeau, will bring long drives to the 54-hole exhibitions. He was driving farther than DeChambeau in the 2020 U.S. Open, hitting one 388 yards to DeChambeau’s 374.

The often-controversial Patrick Reed said it was about travel.

“Being the guy who’s played 30 to 35 events my entire career and basically living through Facetime watching my kids grow up, I wanted to spend more time with my children. I wanted to be a dad,” he said.

Reed could just play fewer PGA Tour events.  No one requires him to play that often. Fifteen is the basic requirement for the PGA Tour.

Now Perez has been seen walking around in a shirt with images of money all over it.  At least he’s not ditching the central issue. The money. It is really about doing less for more.

But Pat Perez, a recent addition to LIV explained it another way.

“I’ve been on the road longer than Matt Wolff has been alive,” Perez said in his first LIV press conference.

Then he provided an example of why he wants to play less.

“August 18, I get a call my wife’s going into labor. I’m in Jersey. I’m getting ready to start the FedEx playoffs. I’m 116 on the list. I can’t leave. I can’t miss it,” he explained.

His only option was to spend $150,000 on a private jet, which was too high a cost for him. Even Tour players have their spending limits.

“At my age, this is an absolute golden opportunity for me,” said Perez.

Now Perez has been seen walking around in a shirt with images of money all over it.  At least he’s not ditching the central issue. The money.

It is really about doing less for more. And there’s nothing wrong with that.  But behind that, there’s the source of the money, and that’s become too big an obstacle for some and no problem whatsoever for others.

In terms of the near future, LIV CEO Greg Norman has already said there will be 10 events in 2023 and then 14 the year after. That’s just one less than PGA Tour players are required to play.

However, Norman started by promising 18 events, so while it sounds more like the LIV exhibitions are going to expand rather than contract, we won’t really know until we know.

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It’s too early to tell how soon the bloom will be off the rose after the initial checks are cashed. Nick Faldo, who was in the CBS broadcast during the final round of The Travelers, said he had seen some of the contracts and was familiar with the terms.

“It’s a boatload of cash,” Faldo said, speaking about Brooks Koepka’s defection from the PGA Tour.

“It’s also a boatload of mandatory personal appearances and that sort of thing they’re gonna be doing. I’m sure he’s gonna find that gets very old very quickly.”