Austin golfers square off in fight between LIV and PGA Tour
Top Austin-connected golfers are now taking sides in a contentious fight at the top of the sport.
Driving the news: LIV Golf, backed by the Saudi Arabian government, teed off today in London with a prominent golfer who counts Austin as a base on the course.
- Flush with cash, the new tour is upending the men's professional golf world order, as a direct threat to the PGA Tour.
Why it matters: Even for non-golfers, there's a lot to gnaw on. It's about loyalties, money, politics and power.
- The PGA Tour has threatened to ban golfers who compete in LIV events, and some players have responded by resigning from the Tour.
- LIV critics allege Saudi Arabia is using golf to boost its global image (aka "sportswashing").
By the numbers: A huge part of LIV's appeal is money. The Saudis have pledged $400 million for this season, with $225 million going toward prize money.
- LIV is also giving top players a ton of guaranteed money just to join. Phil Mickelson alone is getting about $200 million (!) for signing on.
Zoom in: Sergio Garcia — who is married to the daughter of a former Longhorns quarterback, and owns a western Travis County manse — has joined the LIV tour.
- He telegraphed the move last month, when he complained on a hot mic that "I can't wait to leave this tour."
Meanwhile, in Canada this week for a PGA Tour event, former Longhorns golfer (and current Masters champion) Scottie Scheffler threw shade on his LIV-playing colleagues.
- "I haven't really noticed anyone missing this week. Maybe outside of DJ," he said, referring to top-ranked golfer Dustin Johnson, who resigned from the Tour for the rival.
- Of note: Scheffler won $2.7 million for winning the Masters. The winner of each LIV Golf event will pull down $4 million.
Former Longhorn and champion golfer Jordan Spieth was more circumspect earlier this year about the threat of LIV and how it might influence how much the PGA Tour pays its top golfers.
- "I think that it's been beneficial to the players to have competition, and I think the Tour would say that they probably feel that they're in a better position going forward by having to sit back and kind of take a look at things and make some changes."
What we're watching: When the PGA-sanctioned WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play returns to Austin in March, will reigning champion Scheffler and tournament regular Garcia be on the course?
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