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LIV Has Only Changed Golf For The Worse

By: | Mon 18 Dec 2023

Reflecting on the current state of men's professional golf, Derek Clements shares his View From The Fairway in which he outlines why in his belief LIV has only changed the game for the worst.

At last somebody has hit the nail on the head. “Arnold Palmer changed the game. Jack Nicklaus changed the game. Tiger Woods changed the game. The LIV tour is not changing a thing.”

These are the words of Fred Couples, the former Masters champion and a voice for common sense.

And he is absolutely right.

When Palmer came along, hitched up his trousers and attacked every single golf shot, it attracted tens of thousands of new followers to the game of professional golf. The Open Championship was dying on its feet until Arnie crossed the Atlantic  and won The Open in 1961 and 1962. His fellow Americans suddenly sat up and took notice and decided to follow Palmer. The rest is history.

When Palmer hit the ball hard - as he almost always did - the earth moved. He was thrilling to watch and he truly changed the game.

Nicklaus won 18 majors. That was remarkable enough but it was the manner in which he did it that transformed the game of professional golf. The Golden Bear’s focus every year was purely and simply on the majors. Nobody had ever prepared for those four tournaments in the way that Nicklaus did. He prepared in a way that ensured that when he turned up for these four tournaments that his game was in the best possible shape.

Everybody else who had serious ambitions to win majors decided to copy Nicklaus. He changed the game.

And then there was Woods. He took it to a different level. It wasn’t just about possessing a God-given talent, which he obviously did. When Woods was not hitting golf balls he was in the gym turning himself into a muscle-bound athlete. When he won The Masters in 1997 the world looked on in disbelief. He played the game in a way which none of us were familiar with. Like Nicklaus, his life also revolved around the majors, and he won 15 of them.

Almost every golfer who has come along since cites Woods as their inspiration. And almost every top golfer now spends huge amounts of time in the gym. Yes, you’ve got it, Woods changed the game.

Those involved with LIV consistently tell us that they are all about growing the game. What utter nonsense.

Couples says that he longs for somebody who defects to be honest enough to stand up in front of the TV cameras and simply say: “I did it for the money.”

Of course they are all doing it for the money.

Jon Rahm

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

When Jon Rahm announced his LIV defection, he had this to say: “Obviously, the past few years there’s been a lot of evolving in the game of golf. Seeing the growth of LIV Golf, seeing the evolution of LIV Golf, and the innovation is something that’s really captured my attention. That’s why we’re here today.”

Couples response? “My a**e!” I couldn’t have put it better.

Couples is not alone. The wonderful Eddie Pepperell has also been pretty vocal on social media, making the point that if LIV really had to fork out $450m to get Rahm on board then it proves it is anything but a success.

And he makes a good point. If LIV really was such a wonderful tour they surely wouldn’t have to spend obscene amounts of money in order to tempt the PGA Tour’s best players to join them.

In the immediate aftermath of his departure, Rahm said he wants to continue playing on the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. The PGA Tour have already suspended him, just as they did every other player who defected. The Spaniard is an honorary member of the DP World Tour but they will surely follow suit.

Rahm has created a huge cake for himself - he cannot possibly expect to have it and eat it.

Speculation is now rife about who will be following Rahm. The good news is that Tony Finau, who was widely rumoured to be on his way, has come out and told the world that he is staying put. It should be remembered that Rahm had also said he would never join LIV. But I am happy to give Finau the benefit of the doubt.

It has also been claimed that Tyrrell Hatton is considering his future.

Has LIV Golf changed the game? Sadly, yes. But for all the wrong reasons.

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