Robert Garrigus is Unlikely to Set Your Pulse Racing
Read Derek Clements' View From The Fairway.
“LADIES and gentlemen, welcome to Centurion Golf Club. On the first tee, from the United States of America, winner of the 2010 Children’s Miracle Network Classic, the world number 1,043…..Robert Garrigus!”
And the massive crowd goes wild. Or maybe not.
With all due respect to Mr Garrigus, when Greg Norman agreed to be the front man for the Saudi Arabia-funded LIV golf league, you can be absolutely certain that the calibre of golfer he had in mind was somewhat higher.
Garrigus is the first man to seek permission from the PGA Tour to take part in the LIV Golf Invitational at Centurion in June. And who can blame him? The winner will collect $4m and the total prize fund for this tournament is $25m. To put this in some sort of perspective, the prize money on offer at The Masters was “only” $10m.
Garrigus, who is best known for using a tiny putter, has made just four starts on the PGA Tour season because he does not have full membership status. He has banked just $162,000.
I suppose the most surprising thing is that, to date, Garrigus is the only player on either the PGA or DP World Tour to commit to the tournament at Centurion.
Applications must be submitted at least 45 days in advance, so the deadline for the Centurion Club tournament for PGA Tour players is Monday, April 25.
Expect a flurry of names to join Garrigus - if that doesn’t happen then it will signal the death knell for Norman’s project.
Members of the DP World Tour have longer to make up their minds. They must submit requests for releases at least 30 days prior, so have until 10 May to post an application.
Golfers such as Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, who play on both tours, require permission from both established circuits.
As things stand, the first tournament is still scheduled to go ahead. But here’s the thing…you can offer as much money as you like but unless you can attract a world-class field then, quite frankly, who is going to give your event a second thought? Or want to turn up to watch it? Or even make the effort to watch it unfold on TV?
Norman now accepts that his tournaments will feature journeymen. He has also indicated that top amateurs could be invited to play - if they accept it is likely that they will put their amateur status at risk.
Norman said: "We have eight invitational series events this year, 10 next year. And we will do thorough testing of how everything works. We will be doing it like this for the next two years,''
"We will still do team events and then the league will be up and running in 2024. We're just giving them an opportunity to go play one time for $25m or seven times for $25m with the ability to qualify for the team championship.’'
You may recall that when Norman and the Saudis first announced their plans, Norman was talking about an 18-tournament circuit featuring the best players in the world.
His hope now is that top players will see lesser lights such as Garrigus cashing in and will then be swayed to give his project a go.
Former Masters champion Bubba Watson had been linked with the Invitational Series but was quick to post on Twitter an upcoming schedule that comprised eight PGA Tour events and a desire to qualify for the US Open and Open Championship.
The likes of Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau have committed their futures to the PGA Tour.
Westwood has admitted that he has signed a non-disclosure agreement and he has been supportive of Norman and of the Saudi involvement in golf. But his best days are behind him, so who can blame him for seeking one more bumper pay day?
Norman shouldn't be holding his breath. A circuit featuring players nobody has heard of and journeymen who are going to struggle to break par is hardly likely to set the pulses racing.
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