The Masters Punts

The Masters, Augusta National,Mandatory Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker-Augusta Chronicle/USA TODAY Sports
The Masters, Augusta National,Mandatory Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker-Augusta Chronicle/USA TODAY Sports /

The list of invitees for the 2023 Masters Tournament dropped today and it appears they punted on the LIV Golf question.

I am loathed to question Fred Ridley and the Masters’ Committee (especially at a time when – I assume – my unsolicited membership application is under consideration), but this is the most disappointing and spineless move they’ve ever made.

Simon and Garfunkel sang, “Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

Today a nation of golfing purists mournfully sings, “Where have you gone Bobby Jones? A nation of golfing purists turns its lonely eyes to you.”

Rest easy, LIV Golf fan(s).

The Masters did not change their qualification rules from last year.

That means a handful of LIV players still qualify for the 2023 event. You’ll get to watch the likes of Kevin Na, Jason Kokrak, and Talor Gooch at Augusta National in 2023.

It was always going to be a sticky wicket to ban previous Champions. The Masters is a place that celebrates its past unlike any other sporting event on earth. Even the most ardent anti-LIV pundits (of which I include myself) realize doing so might have permanently bifurcated the game.

It can be argued that The Masters stood pat on qualification criteria to stay above the fray. Perhaps the Masters didn’t want to unduly influence the fight. Maybe this is just Southern etiquette – seeing two parties ready to duel and respecting their desire to settle the issue among themselves.

While most understand The Masters sides with the PGA Tour in the dispute, this demure exit from the discussion smacks of cowardice. The Masters has done nothing more than hand Greg Norman a resounding victory.

The folks at Augusta National did leave a poison pill in their statement, “…we look at every aspect of the Tournament each year, and any modifications or changes to invitation criteria to future Tournaments will be announced in April.” But this looks like an empty threat.

More likely, the Committee will stick to their guns and play the long game. That means by the 2024 Masters, most LIV golfers will have fallen well out of the Top 50 golf rankings. It will also cut out LIV Golfers banned from the PGA Tour who got in this year with PGA Tour wins or FedEx points.

Without access to PGA Tour events, LIV golfers will see their rankings plummet. And until or unless the OWGR decides to award points to LIV Golf events, there will be almost no path for LIV golfers to qualify for The Masters – or other Majors.

Still, the Masters’ Committee had a chance to squash LIV Golf and Greg Norman here and now. It punted instead.

In Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Falstaff pretended to be dead on the battlefield, thus avoiding certain death. In response to accusations of his cowardice, Falstaff says, “The better part of valor is discretion.”

It’s tough to tell who is Falstaff in this current scenario.

Is it Greg Norman as the dishonest and hedonistic Falstaff telling all who will listen, “I told you not challenging The Masters would pay off.”

Or is it The Masters who seemingly said, “Let’s kick this can down the road and hope someone else settles it.”

Both should remember Falstaff eventually becomes victim to his gluttonous and egotistical ways.

Next. What Should The Four Majors Do About LIV Players?. dark

At a time when bold decisions and actions are required to secure the future of the game, it appears The Masters is happy to be a supporting cast member, leaving the spotlight to shine on LIV Golf and Greg Norman – at least for now.