Aug 29, 2022 - News

Atlanta hosts Tour Championship amid PGA conflict

golfer Rory McIlroy in a light green shirt holds a trophy high while a crowd watches

Rory McIlroy is one of the strongest advocates for the PGA Tour, and on Sunday he won the Tour Championship in storybook fashion. Photo: Steve Helber/AP

Atlanta unintentionally became the host site for a sort-of PGA Tour convention last week during a Tour Championship that was as much about the politics of golf as the game itself.

Driving the news: The tournament at East Lake Golf Club not only delivered the excitement of top players competing for an incredible amount of cash — the $75 million prize pool was the largest in history — but it also was a week in which the PGA Tour shot back at LIV Golf, the rebellious tour financially backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund.

Why it matters: The feud between the PGA and LIV is about more than just recruiting players to one side or the other. It's become a bitter battle over the value of traditions, money and even, to some, the victims of 9/11.

Catch up quick: LIV Golf launched in June as a direct competitor to the more than 90-year-old PGA Tour. Immediately, the PGA suspended the players who left, including superstars Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.

Another Georgia tie: In early August, several LIV players filed a 105-page complaint asking for a restraining order against the PGA. It included allegations that Augusta National representatives had been working behind the scenes on behalf of the PGA Tour, Golfweek reported.

The latest: Ahead of the final tournament of its playoffs at East Lake, commissioner Jay Monahan announced major changes coming to the Tour as part of a broader strategy to avoid losing more golfers to LIV, Axios' Jeff Tracy reported.

  • McIlroy, one of the Tour's staunchest defenders, announced a new virtual golf league launching in 2024 in partnership with the PGA Tour. Its intro video is unmistakably firing shots at LIV.
  • Adding to the intrigue, McIlroy was paired with Cameron Smith in the first round at East Lake. Smith is the No. 2 player in the world and rumored to be LIV's next signee.

The bottom line: Georgia is a swing state in more than just politics.


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