The world of professional golf along with the impact of the LIV Tour on invitees for the 2023 majors is now front and center. With the Masters first up to bat, all ears awaited any utterance by Masters Tournament Chairman Fred Ridley. Certainly whatever decision came down from ANGC would impact the other three majors as well as professional golf as a whole.
Ridley delivered a statement saying he would allow LIV players into the 2023 field as long as they met the Tournament’s qualifications, albeit reluctantly, based on the tone of his delivery. Professional golf has now become as polarizing as politics. You either like the new upstart league or you hate it with an old school passion. It’s easy to tell the National’s membership is not keen on the developments of the new Saudi golf league and particularly Greg Norman and his actions. Yet at this point in time the prudent, safe, decision has been made. Let them play and let’s see if this new tour gathers momentum or collapses as Norman did in 1996.
Fans will question whether certain LIV players may skip the event due to fractured relationships with other PGA Tour players. I believe everyone from the Saudi circuit will show. It’s a chance to showcase their new gig to a massive television audience from around the world. They can promote their tour to every viable sports media outlet on the planet. But not so fast, my friend. You can bet Ridley and his Tournament Committee will be in complete control of what is asked, said, written and broadcasted. They’ll stand behind their standard line — we don’t want to detract from the Tournament.
The one player Ridley will have to reign in is of course Mickelson. Phil’s never afraid to say what’s on his mind. Its gotten him in trouble a few times but don’t be surprised if there is a very short leash around Lefty’s neck with it in the hands of Ridley. Again the standard line in Phil’s press conference will be — I’m just here to talk about the Tournament.
As for the patrons you may also assume any derogatory comments or actions towards LIV players will be handled swiftly. Confiscate the badge, escort the patron to the exit. You know there will be a few folks sporting LIV gear but that will probably be the extent of any outward displays of support. The CBS cameras will take extra precautions with the images they’re transmitting. Remember, CBS has a one year contract with ANGC. It’s been that way for years. One slip up and it could be “Goodbye friends…”
However I do believe there is something patrons can do who don’t identify with the LIV Tour and what it stands for. Simply don’t acknowledge or applaud those players. Patrons have a right to express themselves in a manner conducive to the ideals of the Masters Tournament. They can choose to applaud for any player they wish.
Finally, Ridley’s statement included this caveat:
“As we have said in the past, we look at every aspect of the Tournament each year, and any modifications or changes to invitation criteria for future Tournaments will be announced in April.”
You can bet the golf world will be holding it’s breath until then with much speculation about the 2024 Masters. It makes the lengthening of the thirteenth hole a sidelight. You thought I forgot about that new aspect for 2023.
Merry Christmas my friends…