PGA Golf

PGA News Wire
  • Chesson Hadley: ‘I would like to be rewarded for some loyalty’
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 8, 2023

    The idea that PGA Tour players who did not defect to LIV Golf should receive some sort of compensation is gaining legs.

    • Chesson Hadley, one of four co-leaders after Thursday's opening round of the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto, fielded questions about this week's news that the PGA Tour is merging its commercial enterprises with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which had been bankrolling LIV Golf.

      The PIF was able to pry away big-name and small-name players alike with guaranteed money to play for LIV.

      "I know nothing. I know as much as you know," Hadley told reporters of his knowledge of the tour's plans.

      He was then asked if he'd heard any behind-the-scenes conversations with his fellow players.

      "Is it true that (commissioner Jay Monahan) said he's going to reward those who stayed loyal to the Tour? Did he say that yesterday?" Hadley asked.

      Monahan said in an interview on "Golf Today" Wednesday that players who turned down LIV to stay loyal to the PGA "will be rewarded."

      "I think he said that about Rory (McIlroy) and Tiger (Woods), didn't he? Anyway, I would like to be rewarded for some loyalty," said Hadley, the No. 297 player in the world.

      The 35-year-old has won one tournament on the PGA Tour, the 2014 Puerto Rico Open.

      He said he never had ill will toward the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson who chose LIV over the PGA Tour.

      "Those guys didn't do the wrong thing, who went to LIV," Hadley said. "They made a business decision. I don't hold that against anybody. But I would like to be rewarded for my decision to stay loyal."

      Hadley fired a 5-under-par 67 in the first round of the Canadian Open and is tied for the lead with Canada's Corey Conners, England's Aaron Rai and Justin Lower.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Greg Norman claims LIV Golf isn't going anywhere
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 8, 2023

    The future of LIV Golf is in question following Tuesday's surprise announcement that the PGA Tour would merge commercial enterprises with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which had previously been bankrolling LIV's entry into the professional golf world.

    • But LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman doesn't see reason to worry, according to multiple reports.

      Norman told LIV employees on a conference call this week that the new league isn't going away, Sports Illustrated and ESPN reported.

      "LIV is and will continue to be a standalone enterprise," Norman told staffers, per Sports Illustrated. "Our business model will not change. We changed history, and we're not going anywhere."

      Norman added that PIF's deal with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour means "the spigot is now wide open for commercial sponsorships" and new business relationships.

      Norman, who has been at the forefront of LIV's battle with the PGA Tour, was not mentioned in any news release or communications about the PGA-PIF merger Tuesday. The proposed leadership structure of the new entity would see PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan as its chairman and current PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan as the CEO.

      Norman was reportedly told about the deal minutes before Monahan and Al-Rumayyan appeared together for an interview on CNBC.

      Even though LIV players may be given a path to return to the PGA Tour if they choose, LIV as a brand has become toxic to a large group of PGA Tour players who did not want the merger. Rory McIlroy said Wednesday that he still hates LIV, and if a team golf element comes to the PGA Tour, he hopes it isn't under the LIV banner.

      Norman reportedly told staff that LIV is already working on its schedule for 2025. As for 2023, the league has completed half of its 14-event schedule and is on a break until LIV Golf Valderrama in Spain June 30-July 2.

      --Field Level Media

  • Justin Rose: LIV players should be most concerned about future
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 8, 2023

    After the initial shock of the merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) began to wear off, two main questions began to emerge.

    • What is the future of the LIV Golf League, and what will be the conditions for its players to return to the PGA Tour?

      LIV was noticeably absent from the framework agreement, with PIF making an initial investment in the new for-profit entity with the PGA and DP World tours. LIV Golf will complete its 2023 season, then what?

      Asked whether he was bothered by the merger after staying "loyal" to the PGA Tour, Justin Rose said he's perfectly comfortable where he's at. He believes it's the LIV players who have more to be worried about.

      "I feel like it's been important for me to challenge myself against the best players in order to try to rekindle the form that I know I'm capable of," Rose said after carding a 3-under 69 in the first round of the RBC Canadian Open on Thursday. "Obviously, playing major championship golf was always the thing I could never give up. So I was kind of always very content.

      "The headline seems like it's just going to be this very smooth transition and, 'Come on back, boys, it's all done now.' I don't think that's the case. I still think I'm happy where I am. I'd probably be more concerned if I was on LIV right now than on the PGA Tour."

      Fellow Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick acknowledged that he did listen to the LIV Golf recruiting pitch, but mostly out of being "nosy as to what they're going to do." He said he was never going to leave the PGA Tour and did not receive a formal offer.

      "Obviously, for the guys that did turn down significant amounts of money then that's probably a tough one to swallow and I feel for them," Fitzpatrick said after his opening round of 4-under 68 on Thursday.

      Rose has never waded deep into the waters of the LIV Golf debate, and said he initially thought news of the merger might be a prank. He's now hopeful of a "harmonious world of golf," and recognizes there are several LIV players that golf fans miss watching on the PGA Tour.

      "We know all know who they are," he said. "They got a lot to offer the game of golf. I think just because they made a certain decision doesn't mean they're outcasts forever."

      But it also doesn't mean that they should be invited back immediately. Commissioner Jay Monahan said there will be a "pathway" for LIV players to return to the PGA Tour, although those details have yet to be hammered out.

      Rose expects there will not be a one-size-fits-all scenario.

      "I'm sure it's going to need some massaging to get it right," he said. "They have sacrificed a lot as well in terms of ranking and all these types of things. So, there might not be such an easy step for a few of them if that's the case, if it comes down to, you know, exemptions and what your categories are on the PGA Tour.

      "It's going to be very different for different guys."

      Fitzpatrick said he discussed the return of LIV players with friends in the business world and concluded that all he can do is focus on golf. He'll be competing against several LIV players while defending his U.S. Open title next week.

      "Whether everyone comes back and plays in the field, I've still got to beat them in front of me," he said. "Obviously, there's a potential sour taste in there for some guys coming back. But at the end of the day you're trying to beat the course, and that's what I'm going to try and concentrate on."

      --Field Level Media

  • Rory McIlroy will be 'happier' focusing on golf vs. 'board room'
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 8, 2023

    It was business as usual for Rory McIlroy on Thursday -- a scorecard littered with birdies and bogeys and a post-round press conference focused on matters other than his golf game.

    • McIlroy posted a 1-under-par 71 in the opening round at the RBC Canadian Open, where he is the two-time defending champion. His card included five birdies to offset four bogeys, leaving the world No. 3-ranked player four shots off the morning lead.

      Following an opening question about the course conditions in his post-round press conference, it was right back to the biggest topic in the world of golf -- the merger heard 'round the world.

      After 48 hours of drama following the news of the PGA Tour's merger with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the DP World Tour, was it good to get back on the course, where good friend and playing partner Justin Rose posted a 3-under 69?

      "Rosie and I said, 'All right, no chatting until lunch so that we can actually concentrate on what we're doing out there,'" McIlroy said. "We started to get in a conversation walking down the first (hole) and we're like, 'No, let's stop this. Let's just focus on our golf and we'll say what we want to say when we get inside.'

      "So, it was nice to play a round of golf and focus on something else for those five hours we were out there."

      That was followed by a question about the air quality - McIlroy wasn't bothered by it much - and right back to the merger questions, which took up the remainder of his press session.

      McIlroy has spent the past year as the de facto voice of the PGA Tour and players while engaging in regular public spats with the likes of LIV Golf defectors Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed. So, it's no surprise that everyone wants the opinion of McIlroy, who said Wednesday that he was never offered money by LIV Golf and still hopes that the Saudi-backed league goes away.

      He acknowledged that the off-course pressure has weighed on him far more heavily than what goes on inside the ropes.

      "You know, the most uncomfortable I've felt in the last 12 months was my press conference yesterday," McIlroy said.

      After 48 hours of phone calls, press conferences and meetings, McIlroy was back to his "job." The alarm went off at 4:15 a.m., he played a round of golf and then planned to practice a bit in the afternoon before planning for a good night of sleep.

      The PGA Tour agreed to a merger that will change the complexion of professional golf around the world without consulting the player who has been at the forefront of those who "stayed loyal" to the tour. McIlroy was asked if it's time to perhaps focus more on himself.

      "This is business and my job is playing golf at the end of the day," he said. "The more that I can focus on that and focus on the birdies and the bogeys instead of the stuff that's happened in the board room, I'll be much happier."

      --Field Level Media

  • Alexis Ohanian, Williams sisters buy first Tiger-Rory league team
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 8, 2023

    Tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian is teaming with his wife and sister-in-law -- Serena and Venus Williams, respectively -- to buy the first franchise in the upstart TGL.

    • TGL is the new Monday night golf league backed by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. TGL is expected to debut in 2024 and produce two-hour telecasts of competitive golf played on a massive golf simulator.

      And on Thursday, Ohanian took to social media to announce that he is leading the partnership that owns the franchise, named the Los Angeles Golf Club.

      "We see tremendous opportunities to leverage technology to bring golf closer to its fans and to provide an immersive and interactive experience that will captivate both seasoned golf enthusiasts and new fans," Ohanian wrote on Twitter.

      No financial terms of the transaction were announced. Sportico reported in April that owners of the first six franchises would receive a 3 percent equity stake.

      This is not Ohanian's first foray into sports. He is a co-founder and leading investor at Angel City FC, the National Women's Soccer League team now in its second season.

      In 2009, the Williams sisters bought stakes in the Miami Dolphins.

      LAGC holds the geographical rights to the Los Angeles area, though the team will compete in Florida at a custom 135,000-square-foot indoor venue under construction at Palm Beach State College.

      Investors in the league include basketball icons Kevin Durant, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade.

      TGL is partnered with the PGA Tour, which will hold 18 percent of the league's equity, according to Sportico.

      In addition to Woods and McIlroy, a slew of PGA Tour notables -- Jon Rahm of Spain, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott of Australia -- have signed up to participate. The league plans to run its debut season from January through April 2024.

      --Field Level Media

  • 2023 RBC Canadian Open: Preview, Props, Best Bets
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 7, 2023

    Following the bombshell announcement of the merger between the PGA Tour, the Public Investment Fund and the DP World Tour, there is still the small matter of this week's RBC Canadian Open to be played.

    • The field includes only two of the top 10 players in the world rankings, and our golf experts break down the tournament along with their favorite prop picks and best bets to win this week.


      Location: Toronto, June 8-11

      Course: Oakdale Golf & Country Club (Par 72, 7,264 yards)

      Purse: $9M (Winner: $1.62M)

      Defending Champion: Rory McIlroy

      FedEx Cup leader: Jon Rahm


      TV: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 2:30-5:30 p.m. (GC), 5:30-7:30 p.m. (CBS); Sunday, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (GC), 2:30-6:30 p.m. (CBS)

      Streaming on ESPN+: Thursday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. ET; Saturday, 9:15 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 8:15 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

      Twitter: @RBCCanadianOpen


      --Matt Fitzpatrick to Finish Top 10 (+138 at BetMGM): Fitzpatrick has largely stayed out of the merger fray this week, having his press conference session canceled on Tuesday. He may have plenty on his mind as he prepares to defend his title at next week's U.S. Open, but Fitzpatrick should be a factor come Sunday as one of only two top-10 players in the field.

      --Corey Conners to Beat Lee Hodges (-135 at DraftKings): We can handle the smaller payout here because this should be a solid bet. Hodges is coming off a T12 at the Memorial and has quietly made seven of his past nine cuts. But Conners is Canada's best player at the moment, and he cares deeply about his country's biggest tournament. In addition to finishing sixth last year, Conners has been a Sunday factor on the game's biggest stages. He also won the Valero Texas Open earlier this year before a T8 at the Wells Fargo.

      --David Lipsky to Finish Top 20 (+250 at BetMGM): Lipsky has posted a T16 and a T12 in his past two starts, with the latter coming against a designated field at the Memorial. Against a more modest field in Toronto, a third consecutive top-20 is a very reasonable expectation.

      2023 Prop Picks Record: 23-33-2

      BEST BETS:

      --Rory McIlroy (+450) is the top-ranked player in the field at No. 3. He's understandably the heavy pre-tournament favorite, but where is McIlroy's focus given the news of the merger breaking two days before teeing off? He is second at the sportsbook with 6.0 percent of the total bets backing him to win after opening at +400.

      --Tyrrell Hatton (+1100) has five consecutive top-20 finishes, including a pair of top-5s.

      --Fitzpatrick (+1400) is the only other top-10 player in the field and finished T10 in last year's RBC Canadian Open.

      --Sam Burns (+1400), who is an RBC ambassador, finished T4 in his tournament debut last year.

      --Cameron Young (+1500) is still seeking his first PGA Tour victory. He's the third biggest liability at BetMGM with 9.14 percent of the total money backing him to win.

      --Conners (+1600) is the top-ranked Canadian in the field at No. 29 and finished sixth last year. He won the Valero Texas Open earlier this year but is coming off a missed cut at the Memorial. Connors is third at the sportsbook with 5.2 percent of the tickets backing him to win.

      --Sahith Theegala (+2800) is also still seeking his first victory on tour. Against a softer field, Theegala is BetMGM's biggest liability this week, having drawn both the most total tickets (6.7 percent) and money (9.3 percent) among the entire field. His odds have shortened significantly since opening at +3300.

      --Former Texas Tech star and two-time Ben Hogan Award winner Ludvig Aberg (+5000) will make his first start since earning his tour card via the PGA Tour University. Despite making his pro debut, Aberg is tied for the 14th-shortest odds in the field and is BetMGM's third biggest liability this week while drawing 9.06 percent of the total money.


      --McIlroy is the two-time defending champion, having also won the event in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic led to it being canceled from 2020-21. He can become the first player to win an event three consecutive times since Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic from 2009-11).

      --Reigning U.S. Amateur champion Sam Bennett (+20000) is in the field on a sponsor's exemption after finishing 63rd in his professional debut last week. He is one of 30 players in the field who will also compete in next week's U.S. Open.

      --Michael Block (+50000), the club professional who tied for 15th at the PGA Championship, is also playing on a sponsor's exemption this week.

      --The event was established in 1904, making it the second-oldest non-major on the PGA Tour behind the BMW Championship (1899).

      --The last Canadian to win the event was Pat Fletcher in 1954, before it was recognized as an official PGA Tour tournament.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bryson DeChambeau defends Saudis, feels for PGA Tour players
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 7, 2023

    Bryson DeChambeau left the PGA Tour in June 2022 for a contract with LIV Golf worth at least $125 million, paid for with Saudi Arabian money.

    • Late Tuesday, in an interview with CNN and hours after the announcement that the PGA Tour, LIV and the DP World Tour were joining forces, DeChambeau defended the decision to use that same Saudi money to pay for the venture.

      "There's a lot more behind closed doors that's been going on. What I can tell you is that H-E Yasir has always been a staunch supporter of golf globally, and wanting to grow the game," DeChambeau said, referring to "His Excellency" Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi Public Improvement Fund. Al-Rumayyan was named chairman of the new golf entity.

      "As it's come to fruition now I think this is the best thing that could ever happen to the game of golf," DeChambeau said of the partnership. "The fans are going to get what they want, the players are going to experience something a little different, a little new, but I truly believe the game of golf wins."

      When pressed about Saudi Arabia's record on human rights and terrorism, DeChambeau expressed sympathy for the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and their families, but said it is time to turn the page. 9/11 families decried the partnership with the Saudis on Tuesday.

      "I mean look, it's unfortunate what has happened but that is not something I can speak on because I'm a golfer," DeChambeau said. "What I can say is that, what they're trying to do is be better allies, because we are allied with them. I'm not going to get into the politics of it, I'm not specialized in it. But what I can say is they're trying to do good for the world and showcase themselves in a light that hasn't been seen in a while. Nobody is perfect but we're all trying to improve in life."

      DeChambeau, 29, said PGA Tour players have the right to be angry for turning down opportunities to join LIV Golf and remain loyal to the tour -- only to have the tour shift focus.

      "I do feel bad for the PGA Tour players because they were told one thing and something else happened, and our side, we were told one thing and it's come to fruition," DeChambeau said. "It does stink a little bit from my perspective that the PGA Tour players are not necessarily winning. I hope they can find a way to make sure that they are valued in the same way that we are over at LIV. I think that'll happen, it's just going to take some time with players pushing back a little bit and trying to figure out what gives them the best opportunity to be successful."

      --Field Level Media

  • Rory McIlroy: Things must be 'thrashed out' after PGA Tour, LIV partner
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 7, 2023

    Rory McIlroy spent much of the past year as the public face of the stalwart PGA Tour's battle against LIV Golf, and it was clear Wednesday he was still trying to process the events that led the two entities to join forces with the DP World Tour into one golf giant.

    • Speaking to reporters at the Canadian Open in Toronto, he said he learned that the three organizations would come under one umbrella Tuesday just like everyone else. And it's clear he's left to figure out how the players who stayed loyal to the PGA Tour move forward, starting with himself.

      "It's hard for me to not sit up here and feel somewhat like a sacrificial lamb and feeling like I've put myself out there and this is what happens," said McIlroy, ranked No. 3 in the world. "Again, removing myself from the situation, I see how this is better for the game of golf. There's no denying that. But for me as an individual, yeah, I, there's just going to have to be conversations that are had."

      McIlroy, 34, has felt the burden of the golf war between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, which swooped in last year to snatch some of the biggest names in the game away from the tour with big money backed by Saudi Arabia. His off-course duties have included organizing players-only meetings and formulating new models for the PGA Tour while serving as a player director on the Tour Policy Board. He also had been the most argent PGA Tour player to publicly point the finger at the upstart LIV Golf League and CEO Greg Norman.

      Under terms of the agreement announced Tuesday, the PGA and DP World tours are pairing with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to form a new golf circuit. The PGA Tour and LIV Golf have been involved in litigation, which now is settled with the merger.

      "I don't understand all the intricacies of what's going on. It's a very, what's the word? There's a lot of ambiguity," McIlroy said. "There's a lot of things still to be sort of thrashed out. But at least it means that the litigation goes away, which has been a massive burden for everyone that's involved with the tour and that's playing the tour. And we can start to work toward some sort of way of unifying the game at the elite level."

      At a meeting with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Tuesday, some players reportedly called for his resignation, angry that Monahan had agreed to partner with the Saudis.

      McIlroy said he still supports Monahan, even as the sides are going to have to find a way to bring the LIV defectors back under one tent. McIlroy said that won't be easy.

      "I've dealt with Jay a lot closer than a lot of those guys have. From where we were a couple of weeks ago to where we are today, I think the future of the PGA Tour looks brighter as a whole, as an entity," he said. "What that looks like for individual players in terms of keeping a tour card and bringing players back into the fold and then that sacrifices other people, that's where the anger comes from, right. And I understand that.

      "There still has to be consequences to actions. The people that left the PGA Tour irreparably harmed this tour, started litigation against it. Like, we can't just welcome them back in. Like, that's not going to happen. And I think that was the one thing that Jay was trying to get across yesterday is like, guys, we're not just going to bring these guys back in and pretend like nothing's happened. That is not going to happen."

      Last year, Monahan criticized those who accepted Saudi money, decrying the country's record of human rights violations and its involvement in 9/11. McIlroy said partnering with the Saudis, with Monahan as CEO, protects the game.

      "Whether you like it or not, the PIF were going to keep spending the money in golf," the Northern Irishman said. "At least the PGA Tour now controls how that money is spent. So, you know, if you're thinking about one of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world, would you rather have them as a partner or an enemy? At the end of the day, money talks and you would rather have them as a partner."

      As uncomfortable as that stance left many in the golf world since Tuesday's announcement, McIlroy said golf must play the long game.

      "I look at 10 years down the line," McIlroy said. "I think ultimately this is going to be, it's going to be good for the game of professional golf. ... It unifies it and it secures its financial future."

      --Field Level Media

  • PGA Tour players call for Jay Monahan’s resignation after merger
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 6, 2023

    Some PGA Tour players confronted commissioner Jay Monahan and called for his resignation during an afternoon meeting Tuesday at the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto.

    • PGA Tour winner Johnson Wagner told Golf Channel that there was plenty of anger in the room after Monahan came to a merger agreement with LIV Golf and the Saudi Public Investment Fund without consulting with the players.

      "It was contentious," Wagner said. "There were many moments where certain players were calling for new leadership of the PGA Tour and even got a couple standing ovations.

      "I think the most powerful moment was when a player quoted Commissioner Monahan from the 3M (Open) in Minnesota last year when he said, ‘As long as I'm commissioner of the PGA Tour, no player that took LIV money will ever play the PGA Tour again.' It just seems like a lot of backtracking."

      PGA Tour veteran and major champion Geoff Ogilvy of Australia told reporters the meeting was not informative, saying he got the sense that the tour rushed the announcement sooner than it wanted to make it.

      "(Monahan) just sort of explained the structure, how it's going to look going forward," Ogilvy said. "Didn't really talk specifics. It was a tough meeting for both sides, I think for Jay and all the players, because nobody really knows what this is going to look like in the end."

      Monahan, 53, is the fourth commissioner in PGA Tour history and has held the position since January 2017. Whether or not he resigns, he won't hold that title for much longer.

      With the Saudi Public Investment Fund making a capital investment in the new entity formed by the merger of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf, PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will be its chairman and Monahan is set to be the CEO.

      "I don't know that this is necessarily the correct term, but if it's possible I gained even more respect for Jay because he was taking it from every single angle," Wagner said. "Players were mad, players were calling for (his) resignation, and Jay sat there and took it like a champ, he really did. Now, he didn't specifically answer a lot of questions of what the path would be like for LIV players coming in the season of ‘24. He kind of left it up to it's his discretion ... so a lot of players didn't like that."

      Monahan, who appeared on CNBC with Al-Rumayyan for an interview Tuesday morning, held a call with select reporters after meeting with the players in Canada.

      "I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite," Monahan said. "Anytime I said anything, I said it with the information that I had at that moment, and I said it based on someone that's trying to compete for the PGA Tour and our players. I accept those criticisms. But circumstances do change. I think that in looking at the big picture and looking at it this way, that's what got us to this point."

      The deal reportedly was negotiated over the course of the last seven weeks, and key players like Tiger Woods and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy -- who stood by Monahan and the PGA Tour while sharply criticizing LIV Golf -- were not let in on Monahan's decision until the last minute.

      "Obviously Tiger and Rory's perspective is one that I understand very well, and it was part of my thinking throughout these conversations, and it will be a part of my thinking going forward," Monahan said. "Now that we're in a framework agreement, I look forward to talking to all of our players, including the two of them, to make certain that this comes off the right way."

      Monahan said the agreement is only a framework and that he hasn't studied everything about the LIV Golf model.

      Woods and McIlroy have yet to publicly comment. McIlroy, the defending champion of the Canadian Open, is scheduled to speak to the press Wednesday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Jack Nicklaus: Merger 'good for the game of golf’
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 6, 2023

    Tuesday's bombshell merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf earned the seal of approval from arguably the game's top ambassador.

    • Jack Nicklaus told The Palm Beach Post that he agrees the merger is "good for the game of golf."

      His comments come days after saying he doesn't even consider LIV players "part of the game anymore." But Tuesday was a new day for the sport and its direction.

      "The last three years have been difficult for the game and the players," Nicklaus told the Post. "I spoke with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan this morning. He seemed pleased with the arrangement that will once again bring together the best players in the world. I agree that this is good for the game of golf.

      "I also appreciate the commissioner's comments about continuing the tradition of the Tour and the mission to support important charitable causes. I am certainly interested in seeing the details," Nicklaus added. "Jay indicated that this all will happen in 2024, so very soon the proof will be in the pudding. Whatever is best for the game of golf enjoys my full support."

      Nicklaus said he was offered $100 million by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund to be the CEO of the upstart circuit, a post that eventually went to Greg Norman. Nicklaus said then that LIV "wasn't for me."

      Just last week Nicklaus was asked about LIV players who weren't able to complete in The Memorial Tournament, his event, since they had jumped ship to the LIV series.

      "I don't even consider those guys part of the game anymore," he said then. "I don't mean that in a nasty way. This is a PGA Tour event, and we have the best field we can possibly have for a PGA Tour event for those who are eligible to be here. The other guys made a choice of what they did and where they've gone and we don't even talk about it."

      --Field Level Media

  • LIV Golf timeline: From rival league to PGA merger
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 6, 2023

    Just three days shy of the one-year anniversary of its first event outside London, LIV Golf announced a landmark merger with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour on Tuesday.

    • The Public Investment Fund (PIF) will make a capital investment into the combined venture.

      A timeline of events for the Saudi-backed league:

      January 2020: Format for a proposed new Premier Golf League is solidified. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan informs PGA Tour players that they will not be allowed to compete on both circuits.

      November 2020: DP World Tour and PGA Tour announce strategic alliance.

      October 2021: Greg Norman named CEO of LIV Golf Investments, with backing from PIF.

      February 2022: Comments Phil Mickelson makes to golf author Alan Shipnuck are published online, revealing Mickelson called Saudi businessmen "scary mother------s" to work with but said he will continue to do so in spite of understanding the kingdom's human rights abuses. Facing severe criticism, Mickelson later apologizes and says he is taking time away from golf.

      March 2022: LIV Golf reveals schedule for inaugural season with eight events and $255 million in prize money. Monahan says the PGA Tour is "moving on" and that "we always will be focused on legacy, not leverage."

      June 9, 2022: First LIV event begins outside of London, and the PGA Tour suspends members who participate.

      August 2022: Eleven LIV players file an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, alleging unlawful monopoly and restraint of trade. Monahan announces overhaul of tour's schedule, including the addition of designated events with most purses rising to $20 million.

      September 2022: PGA Tour files counterclaim lawsuit against the PIF and its governor, Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan. Among other things, the lawsuit accuses LIV Golf of tortiously interfering with the tour's contracts with golfers who signed with the rival league.

      November 2022: Rory McIlroy urges Norman to end the "stalemate" in the professional golf world, while Tiger Woods says Norman "has to go" so "we can all talk freely."

      January 2023: PGA Tour files a motion to add PIF to its countersuit against LIV Golf for interfering with its contracts with players who joined the new league.

      April 2023: DP World Tour wins arbitration case against LIV Golf, with fines and suspensions for playing in the 2022 LIV London event upheld.

      May 2023: Brooks Koepka wins 2023 PGA Championship, less than one year after signing with LIV Golf.

      June 6, 2023: Merger announced and all litigation ended. Monahan will serve as CEO and Al-Rumayyan will be the chairman of the new entity.

      --Field Level Media

  • Brandel Chamblee decries ‘saddest days’ in history of golf
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 6, 2023

    Golf Channel analyst and virulent critic of LIV Golf Brandel Chamblee called Tuesday's merger between the renegade circuit and the PGA Tour "one of the saddest days in the history of professional golf."

    • Chamblee added his belief that the tours - including the DP Tour - "sacrificed their principles for profits."

      His comments came hours after the historic and transformational deal struck between golf's governing bodies and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

      PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will be the chairman of the new entity, and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will be its CEO. The PGA Tour will appoint a majority of a new board of directors and hold the majority voting interest.

      "I was completely shocked," Chamblee said on Golf Channel. "After the shock sort of ebbed away, I was hugely disappointed. I think it is one of the saddest days in the history of professional golf. I do believe that the governing bodies, the professional entities, have sacrificed their principles for profits."

      9/11 Families United also released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying it was "shocked and deeply offended."

      "PGA Tour leaders should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed," wrote chairwoman Terry Strada. "Our entire 9/11 community has been betrayed by Commissioner Monahan and the PGA as it appears their concern for our loved ones was merely window-dressing in their quest for money - it was never to honor the great game of golf."

      9/11 Families United - as well as the PGA Tour before Tuesday - had excoriated LIV Golf for sportswashing human rights abuses.

      Fifteen of the 19 hijackers that perpetrated attacks on 9/11 were Saudi citizens and Strada's husband, Tom, was among those killed. In addition, the Saudi government was linked to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

      "Now the PGA and Monahan appear to have become just more paid Saudi shills, taking billions of dollars to cleanse the Saudi reputation so that Americans and the world will forget how the Kingdom spent their billions of dollars before 9/11 to fund terrorism, spread their vitriolic hatred of Americans, and finance al Qaeda and the murder of our loved ones," Strada went on to write.

      Chamblee zeroed in on how the merger might affect the integrity of the game.

      "Will the game of golf still have its integrity? Will it still have this leadership that so many people point at as one of the most inspiring aspects of sport?" he said. "This is about the future of the game of golf, the legacy of the game of golf. This is so much bigger than any of us."

      On that mark, Chamblee and Strada appear to be in agreement.

      "Make no mistake - we will never forget," Strada ended her statement.

      --Field Level Media

  • Masters, R&A applaud golf's peace agreement
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 6, 2023

    History over histrionics, tradition over tension, golf appears to be back on the same fairway.

    • That's the take from Masters chairman Fred Ridley, who opted not to extend an invitation to LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman for the 2023 Masters to minimize the drama but is now endorsing the merger of the two leagues announced Tuesday.

      Ridley -- named in an antitrust suit filed by LIV players -- said in April when explaining his decision to welcome 18 players from LIV that he looked forward to a day when golf could be viewed in terms other than two competing factions. Augusta National was also part of the antitrust probe launched by the Department of Justice this year.

      On Tuesday, LIV Golf and the PGA Tour announced a truce that would dissolve standing litigation and unite top players from the rival leagues.

      "As we have expressed previously, what makes golf special is its rich history and ability to bring people together. We are encouraged by this announcement, which represents a positive development in bringing harmony to men's professional golf," Ridley said in a statement. "Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament are -- and will remain -- devoted to developing the game and celebrating its many virtues."

      Martin Slumbers, CEO of the Royal & Ancient (R&A), welcomed the announcement. The R&A governs golf outside of the United States and Mexico and oversees The Open Championship in July. Slumbers would have been set to host defending champion Cam Smith of LIV in a field loaded with PGA Tour players -- including third-place finisher in 2022, Rory McIlroy -- and DP Tour players.

      "We are pleased that an agreement has been reached which will help men's professional golf move forward in a collaborative, constructive and innovative fashion," Slumbers said. "We care deeply about golf's future and are committed to ensuring that the sport continues to thrive for many years to come. This agreement represents a huge step toward achieving that goal for golf and we look forward to working with the new entity for the benefit of the sport globally."

      --Field Level Media

  • Shark in the Dark: Greg Norman late to learn of LIV-PGA deal
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 6, 2023

    Nobody told LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman what was coming Tuesday until word began to leak via CNBC that the PGA Tour rival circuit was on the verge of a transformative peace treaty.

    • Norman learned moments before a TV interview aired on CNBC with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and the governor of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which is the primary financial backer of LIV Golf, breaking down the agreement.

      "I made a call just before this and of course he is a partner with us, and all the stakeholders that we have with us they had the call right before this interview," Yasir Al-Rumayyan said in the interview of when Norman was in the know.

      Norman, named CEO of LIV from its launch, was not listed in any of the formal announcements or press releases discussing the merger. He has been operating largely behind the scenes in the second season of LIV Golf since Tiger Woods bluntly said there could be no handshake between the sides because first, Norman "has to go."

      He wasn't invited to the Masters in April to "limit drama," according to Augusta National Golf Club chair Fred Ridley. Eighteen LIV golfers competed in the Masters.

      Al-Rumayyan and Majed Al Sorour had final say over Norman and all LIV Golf matters. Al Sorour transitioned out of the role of managing director of LIV Golf earlier this year.

      --Field Level Media

  • PGA Tour-LIV merger 'kick in the teeth' for those who stayed loyal
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 6, 2023

    The players in the field at this week's RBC Canadian Open learned about the PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger the same way the rest of the world did Tuesday morning -- via Twitter.

    • And the initial reaction was not a positive one.

      Callum Tarren said he and other players on-site had no indication the merger was coming and were shocked by the reversal of course by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

      "It's disappointing being a PGA Tour member," he told the Golf Channel. "Who knows what's going to happen? There's so many rumors flying around, so we'll just have to see how it plays out."

      Tarren is ranked 159th in the world and has missed nine of his past 11 cuts. He likely didn't turn down a huge contract offer from the Saudi-backed LIV Golf League, but he's certain those who did will not react well to news of the merger.

      "The guys who've stayed loyal to the PGA Tour, it's kind of a kick in the teeth for them," Tarren said. "Obviously, Rory (McIlroy) was a huge advocate of the PGA Tour, and now it looks like all of this hard work and sticking up for the PGA Tour was just left by the wayside."

      Tarren said the initial reaction from the PGA Tour members at the RBC Canadian open was that of shock and disappointment, and that it appears the big winners out of the past two years are those who did leave for LIV.

      "There was a lot of animosity towards the LIV guys and them leaving, but it looks like they're the ones that are smiling," he said. "And that decision is now backed up by what happened."

      Monahan sent a memo to PGA Tour members outlining the "framework" agreement and invited them to a players' meeting Tuesday afternoon.

      Canada's Adam Hadwin was the first player in the press room in Toronto on Tuesday. He learned of the merger from Monahan's email to the players and said that while he wants to learn more details, "everybody probably saw eventually something happening" between the rival tours.

      "I think that what's transpired like the last year and a half and the rhetoric, not only on this side but on that side as well, I think it's difficult to look at that and say, 'how did we get here now?'" Hadwin said. "I don't even know if at this point you could even get the answers that you would want. I don't even know if they have those answers yet."

      Tarren was asked if there is anything that can ease the feeling of massive disappointment among the membership.

      "I have no idea, if I'm being truthfully honest," he said. "It's only the early stages. It just happened, so there's a lot of fresh thoughts and rumors flying around but I think we just have to attend the meeting at 4 p.m. and see what Jay has to say.

      "I'm sure he's going to get some pretty sticky questions coming his way."

      Hadwin repeatedly mentioned the top players in the world competing against each other more often as driving force between any reconciliation between the tours.

      "Anybody who thought about it logically would see that something was going to have to happen," he said. "You couldn't, you can't -- fracture is a strong word -- but can't take away the best players in the game and have them at separate events and only be together four weeks a year. It's not putting the best golf product forward.

      "However, again, happening this quick and in this way is surprising."

      --Field Level Media

  • PGA Tour players react to LIV merger, say they found out on Twitter
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 6, 2023

    PGA Tour players were apparently blindsided by the news Tuesday morning that their tour had agreed to merge with rival league LIV Golf and accept funding from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

    • "I love finding out morning news on Twitter," two-time major champion Collin Morikawa tweeted.

      Multiple news outlets reported that PGA Tour players were not told ahead of time that the news was coming before a press release was posted online and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and Saudi PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan appeared together on CNBC for an interview.

      Al-Rumayyan said Tuesday that LIV CEO Greg Norman, a former PGA player who became a Tour nemesis by aligning with the competitor, was in the dark on the merger until moments before a national TV interview announcing the deal.

      "I made a call just before this and of course he is a partner with us, and all the stakeholders that we have with us they had the call right before this interview," Al-Rumayyan said.

      Monahan was asked during that interview what he thought the response would be from PGA Tour players.

      "Listen, a lot of people have been reading about the tension. And I said previously that we were going down our path and they were going down theirs," Monahan said. "And today, that tension goes away. The litigation is dropped. We're announcing to the world, that on behalf of this game, we're coming together. And it's less about how people respond today, and it's all about how people respond in 10 years. And when they see the impact we're having on this game together, there will be a lot of smiles on people's faces, and there will be a lot more people playing this game all over the world.

      "And if you're a young player that wants to get to the highest level in the game today, you'll be more inspired than you've ever been before."

      PGA Tour fan favorite Joel Dahmen poked fun at LIV's team concept, which the tours announced would be kept alive in some form in their new combined entity.

      "I've grown up being a fan of the 4 Aces. Maybe one day I get to play for them on the PGA Tour!" he tweeted.

      Others were not shy to express their anger.

      "Love finding out info on twitter. This is amazing. Y'all should be ashamed and have a lot of questions to answer," Wesley Bryan wrote on Twitter. "I feel betrayed, and will not be able to trust anyone within the corporate structure of the PGA TOUR for a very long time."

      LIV Golf players were not given an indication the merger was coming either, according to the Golf Channel, though they received the news differently.

      "Awesome day today," Phil Mickelson tweeted with a smiling emoji.

      Mickelson was among the first players to make the jump from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, and it was the six-time major champion's presence that legitimized LIV enough for others to follow. Mickelson has not been shy in recent months about lobbing accusations of collusion at the PGA Tour and other golf governing bodies.

      While the likes of Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and others accepted massive guaranteed contracts to defect to LIV, other players turned them down to stay loyal to the PGA Tour. Hideki Matsuyama of Japan reportedly turned down $300 million from LIV to remain with the PGA.

      The tours' announcement said there will be a path for LIV players who want to re-apply for membership to the PGA or DP World Tour. Barstool Golf's Dan Rapaport reported that players who defected to LIV will need to pay a fine that "won't be equal for every player."

      --Field Level Media

  • PGA Tour reaches surprise merger deal with Saudis, LIV Golf
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 6, 2023

    The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf agreed to merge into a single, for-profit entity, the golf conglomerate announced Tuesday.

    • The decision is likely to transform the world of professional golf given the stakes and personalities involved.

      The agreement puts an end to the pending litigation between the legacy tours and the Saudi-backed LIV league that would have gone to court in California next year, and it caps off a saga that caused turmoil in the sport for close to two years.

      Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund -- which provided LIV with enough money to make star players massive guaranteed offers and pay record tournament purses to lure them away from the PGA Tour -- will make a capital investment into the combined entity as part of the agreement.

      PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will be the chairman of the new entity, and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will be its CEO. The PGA Tour will appoint a majority of a new board of directors and hold the majority voting interest. PIF, meanwhile, will have exclusive rights for further investments and a right of first refusal on any new capital injected into the entity.

      While the new entity will be a for-profit organization, PGA Tour Inc. will remain as a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization.

      The tours also said in their joint announcement that players who were indefinitely suspended by the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour for playing in LIV events could have a path to return, as the organizations "will work cooperatively and in good faith to establish a fair and objective process for any players who desire to re-apply for membership" to the legacy tours.

      "After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love," Monahan said in a statement. "This transformational partnership recognizes the immeasurable strength of the PGA Tour's history, legacy and pro-competitive model and combines with it the DP World Tour and LIV -- including the team golf concept -- to create an organization that will benefit golf's players, commercial and charitable partners and fans.

      "Going forward, fans can be confident that we will, collectively, deliver on the promise we've always made -- to promote competition of the best in professional golf and that we are committed to securing and driving the game's future."

      While Monahan's official statement mentioned LIV's team format, the commissioner had few answers when meeting with players and press later in the day, saying only a "framework agreement" was in place and most details were not ironed out. He said he believes LIV Golf in its current state would not continue after it finishes its current season.

      Monahan sat side by side with Al-Rumayyan for an interview with CNBC on Tuesday morning. Though Monahan had been critical of LIV's Saudi ties in the past, he said Tuesday that the capital PIF can provide is "an opportunity we've never had before."

      "There's just so much opportunity, and it's opportunity that we have not been able to activate, but we do now," Monahan said. "And we're going to do it in a highly disciplined and rigorous way. And when you look at our sport, the PGA Tour has never been stronger than it is right now."

      But PGA Tour players expressed surprise and disgust on social media, saying they were not informed the news was coming ahead of time. A memo was sent to membership later Tuesday morning, and Monahan met with players at 4 p.m. at the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto.

      "Any time you're taking money from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, that's probably a difficult decision to make, and it's one that Jay and the team definitely struggled with for a long time and ultimately came to the decision that they're gonna take the investment and try to get some of the disruption out of the game," PGA Tour winner Brendon Todd told Golf Channel.

      "I think for us out here on the PGA Tour that were loyal and stuck with it, I think we're probably anxious and a little frustrated to hear that potentially some of the LIV players could come back to our tour. It doesn't quite seem fair to a lot of us, I'm sure."

      PGA Tour veteran Johnson Wagner appeared on Golf Channel after the meeting with Monahan and described it as contentious, saying some players called for new leadership.

      "I think the most powerful moment was when a player quoted Commissioner Monahan from the 3M (Open) in Minnesota last year when he said, 'As long as I'm commissioner of the PGA Tour, no player that took LIV money will ever play the PGA Tour again,'" Wagner said. "It just seems like a lot of backtracking."

      PGA Tour defenders like Tiger Woods and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, the latter of whom sits on the tour's policy board, were only informed of the decision at the last minute. Monahan said he would still seek those players' input going forward.

      The decision to merge comes less than two weeks before the third major championship of the men's golf season, the U.S. Open. For parts of 2022 and 2023, the majors were the only times that LIV Golf players commingled with the PGA and DP World Tour players.

      Animosity grew between the factions, with Phil Mickelson often speaking as the de facto player leader for LIV and directing accusations of collusion at the PGA Tour and other governing bodies, and McIlroy fiercely defending the PGA Tour and criticizing LIV frequently.

      McIlroy had not yet commented on the merger but was scheduled to meet with the press on Wednesday as the defending champion of the Canadian Open.

      Mickelson, for his part, tweeted "Awesome day today" with a smiling emoji.

      --Field Level Media

  • Michael Block just misses chance to qualify for U.S. Open
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 5, 2023

    The feel-good story of the PGA Championship won't get an encore at the U.S. Open.

    • Michael Block, the 46-year-old club professional who tied for 15th last month at Oak Hill Country Club, narrowly missed out on making the field for this month's major championship at Los Angeles Country Club.

      Competing in a 36-hole qualifier in Toronto on Monday, Block finished sixth of 27 players but needed to make the top three to earn his spot in the U.S. Open.

      Block shot rounds of 69 and 66 to go 5 under at Lambton Golf & Country Club, according to the USGA's website. That was two spots out of the third and final guaranteed place, and one shot behind Harry Hall of England and Jimmy Walker, two PGA Tour players who were named alternates.

      Ryan Gerard was the site's medalist at 11 under (63-66). Vincent Norrman of Sweden (69-63) and Ryan Armour (66-67) grabbed the second and third spots.

      Block still finished better than PGA Tour players Harry Higgs, Richy Werenski and Englishman Callum Tarren.

      Block, the head pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., moved his entry from the Los Angeles-area qualifier to Toronto because he received a sponsor's exemption to compete in the RBC Canadian Open later this week.

      Block's 18-year-old son, amateur Dylan Block, also reached the final round of U.S. Open qualifying but will not make it. The younger block opened with a 10-over 81 at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles and was even for his round with four holes to go as of Monday evening.

      The largest qualifier took place in Columbus, Ohio, given that the PGA Tour was in the area for the Memorial Tournament last weekend. Olin Browne Jr., the 34-year-old son of former PGA Tour winner Olin Browne, beat out 102 other golfers for medalist honors at 11 under (66-67).

      Stewart Cink, who turned 50 last month, earned his way into the major with a 68-67 showing. He was part of a large tie for third at 9 under. Other PGA Tour players advancing from Columbus included Davis Thompson, Eric Cole, Luke List and Patrick Rodgers.

      Kevin Streelman and two amateurs, Nick Dunlap of Alabama and David Nyfjall of Sweden, qualified out of a four-for-three playoff, with 2009 U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover being the odd man out.

      Canada's Taylor Pendrith made the field by finishing second at his qualifier in Springfield, Ohio.

      Cameron Kuchar, the 15-year-old son of PGA Tour veteran Matt Kuchar, did not qualify after shooting 76-76 at his qualifier in Boynton Beach, Fla.

      Jesse Schutte of Oregon and Hong Kong amateur Alexander Yang grabbed the two qualifying spots in Lakewood, Wash.

      The "longest day" will carry into a second day, as the final qualifying berths at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles still must be determined. Three players -- PGA Tour regular Charley Hoffman, Josh Anderson and amateur Preston Summerhays -- will compete for two U.S. Open berths. Three other players already booked their spots from Hillcrest, including LIV Golf's David Puig of Spain.

      --Field Level Media

  • Matthew Wolff WDs from U.S. Open qualifier; LIV Golf status unclear
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 5, 2023

    Matthew Wolff withdrew from his U.S. Open qualifier on Monday at Pine Tree Golf Club in Boynton Beach, Fla., as speculation persisted about his future with LIV Golf.

    • Once ranked as high as No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Wolff has not performed well of late on the Saudi-funded LIV circuit and withdrew from the most recent event, LIV Golf D.C., before the final round.

      Wolff's LIV Golf team, the Brooks Koepka-captained Smash GC, unfollowed Wolff on social media and removed his name from its social media bios, making it unclear whether he was still affiliated with the team.

      Wolff, still just 24 years old, burst onto the professional golf scene in 2019 after his college career with golf powerhouse Oklahoma State. He won the 3M Open as a 20-year-old in July 2019, tied for fourth at the 2020 PGA Championship and finished second to Bryson DeChambeau at the 2020 U.S. Open.

      He took a mental health break from the PGA Tour for part of 2021 and said he was doing better when he returned. The next year, Wolff was among the PGA Tour players who competed in LIV's debut event outside London and was suspended from the tour indefinitely.

      Wolff has not played any major since missing the cut at the 2022 Masters and PGA Championship. He attempted to qualify for the 2022 U.S. Open but walked off the course after a poor drive during his qualifier.

      Thirteen other LIV players attempted to make the U.S. Open field via 36-hole qualifiers on Monday, often called "the longest day in golf." Sergio Garcia of Spain previously made the field via a qualifier last month in Dallas.

      Carlos Ortiz of Mexico and Sebastian Munoz of Colombia each secured their spots in the field on Monday after going to playoffs at their respective sites.

      At Pine Tree, Ortiz won a three-for-one playoff against Luis Gagne of Costa Rica and Wesley Bryan to earn the third and final spot available. At Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., Munoz led the pack after the first 18 holes thanks to a 66 but fell into a four-for-two playoff after shooting a second-round 73. He birdied the first playoff hole and joined amateur Michael Brennan in getting the final two spots.

      LIV players who failed to qualify included Harold Varner III, Cameron Tringale, Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe, Peter Uihlein, Jason Kokrak, Matthew NeSmith (withdrew), Marc Leishman of Australia and James Piot.

      At Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, LIV member David Puig of Spain earned one of five available U.S. Open berths, but another LIV player, Brendan Steele, finished one stroke short of qualifying.

      --Field Level Media

  • Viktor Hovland's encore: U.S. Open qualifier caddy
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 5, 2023

    Viktor Hovland was back on the course Monday, a day after winning the Memorial Tournament and $3.6 million.

    • But he wasn't teeing off at Brookside Golf and Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. Rather, he carried the bag for friend and former Oklahoma State roommate Zach Bauchou, who was striving to earn one of 11 spots in next week's U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

      Hovland, 25, didn't have to travel far; Brookside is about 15 minutes from Muirfield Village, where he won the Memorial on Sunday.

      Golf Channel reported that Hovland and Bauchou met for dinner on Tuesday, and Hovland accepted when Bauchou invited him to caddy on Monday.

      The 25-year-old Hovland, who won on tour for the first time since 2021, probably offered Bauchou some good advice. The latter played in the Mexico Open on the PGA Tour in April but missed the cut.

      The two played together on Oklahoma State's 2018 team that won the NCAA title. Also on the team was Matthew Wolff, who won one PGA Tour event before moving to LIV Golf last year.

      Hovland aims for his first major victory at the U.S. Open.

      --Field Level Media

  • John Deere signs multi-year extension as tourney sponsor
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 5, 2023

    John Deere has signed a multi-year contract extension to remain the title sponsor of the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic, the annual stop in the Quad Cities region along the border of Iowa and Illinois.

    • Officials from the PGA Tour, Deere & Company and the Quad Cities Golf Classic Charitable Foundation announced the extension through 2026 on Monday at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.

      "The John Deere Classic is a signature example of one of the PGA TOUR's most engaged communities coming together to achieve great things," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. "As title sponsor, John Deere has gone above and beyond to help create an outstanding experience for our players and golf fans, while making a lasting impact with local nonprofits."

      John Deere is one of the PGA Tour's longest-running title sponsors, dating back to 1998.

      J.T. Poston is the defending champion at the John Deere Classic, which takes place this year from July 6-9.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rose Zhang vaults 420 spots in world rankings, eligible for Solheim Cup
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 5, 2023

    Rose Zhang can add top 100 player to her rapidly growing list of accomplishments one event into her professional career.

    • Zhang, who turned pro on May 26, vaulted 420 spots to No. 62 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings following her playoff victory at the Mizuho Americas Open on Sunday. The win also came with full membership on the LPGA Tour after the former Stanford star received a sponsor's invite into her first event.

      Zhang is now eligible for the 2024 Solheim Cup and will certainly be on the radar for United States captain Stacy Lewis. The top seven players on the U.S. points list will earn automatic spots on the 12-player team, as will the top two players in the world rankings who are not already qualified.

      Lewis will select the final three players. One event into her professional career, the 20-year-old Zhang is already the 15th-ranked U.S. player in the world.

      The only change in the top 10 of the Rolex Rankings this week was South Korea's Hyo-Joo Kim moving up two spots to No. 8, while Canada's Brooke Henderson slid down two spots to No. 10.

      Following her record-setting amateur career, Zhang defeated Jennifer Kupcho on the second playoff hole on Sunday to become the first player since 1951 to win in her LPGA debut.

      "You guys will see me more on the LPGA Tour, as I am taking membership from now on, and I'll be playing in 2023," Zhang said, although she did not confirm when her next start will be.

      "I just can only say that this is just amazing, and I'm really just in a place where I want to improve myself, and I want to keep on doing better and better," she said in her winning press conference. "So we'll be seeing what I do in the future. As of now, I'm just soaking it all in."

      On Zhang's immediate radar are final exams at Stanford along with moving next week.

      "I have no idea what I'm going to do with that, I've got an essay due, past due for CS," she said of exams. "We'll figure that out. I'm also moving on the 13th, so I have a busy week ahead of me, and that's not golf related."

      --Field Level Media

  • Collin Morikawa WDs from Memorial with back spasms
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, June 4, 2023

    Collin Morikawa withdrew from the Memorial Tournament ahead of Sunday's final round due to back spasms.

    • He was tied for ninth and two strokes back of the lead at 4 under through 54 holes.

      Morikawa, 26, carded a 68 on Saturday with eight birdies and four bogeys.

      He was runner-up at this event in Dublin, Ohio, in 2021, losing to Patrick Cantlay on the first playoff hole.

      --Field Level Media

  • Exec: Endeavor considered $1B investment in LIV Golf
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 1, 2023

    Endeavor, the parent company of the UFC, the Professional Bull Riders and powerful sports agencies like IMG, nearly invested $1 billion into LIV Golf.

    • Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel revealed the nugget in an interview on Freakonomics Radio released Wednesday night. He said Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, among the biggest names who defected from the PGA Tour to the Saudi-funded LIV league, approached Endeavor seeking funding.

      Crucially, Endeavor's support would have replaced LIV's backing from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, a point of contention for many who take issue with the Saudi kingdom's poor human rights record and accuse it of "sportswashing."

      Emanuel said Endeavor's business ties to the PGA Tour ultimately prevented them from pursuing a deal.

      "We're all connected in golf," Emanuel said. "And (the PGA Tour) said, ‘Please don't do it.' So we stopped. I'm friends with (tour commissioner Jay Monahan). We have a lot of business with Jay. I don't want to hurt Jay."

      Instead, Emanuel said he encouraged Monahan to take the threat LIV Golf posed seriously.

      "I said to Jay, ‘We're pulling out. But you have got to figure out an economic solution here because ... it's going to force you,'" Emanuel said. "And he did. To his credit, I think Jay did an incredible job."

      LIV Golf is in its second season and continues to receive its funding from Saudi Arabia. One of its star players, Brooks Koepka, won the PGA Championship in May in a field made up of mostly PGA Tour and DP World Tour golfers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Billy Horschel says confidence 'lowest it's been' after 84
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 1, 2023

    Billy Horschel admitted he has hit a new low point in his professional career after opening with a 12-over par 84 at the Memorial Tournament on Thursday.

    • Horschel arrived at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, as the defending champion, but acknowledged Wednesday that his year to date on the golf course has been "abysmal." It quickly got worse on Thursday.

      Horschel parred the opening hole before the wheels began to rattle with three bogeys. He made the turn in 5-over 41 and then carded a pair of double bogeys en route to a 9-over 43 on the back nine.

      At the end of the day, Horschel was better than only one of the 119 players who finished the opening round. Chad Ramey carded a 16-over 88 while Dylan Frittelli withdrew at 15-over with four holes to play.

      "I'll keep working," said Horschel, who totaled six bogeys and three double bogeys in a birdie-free round. "As much as I would love to throw in the towel and not come out tomorrow, that's just not in me. I'm just not one of those players. There's plenty of those guys out here on tour that would make an excuse about being injured and everything."

      With Horschel already struggling at 8 over, his group was put on the clock on the 13th hole. They were able to get back into position by the 15th tee, despite Horschel coming off his third double bogey of the day.

      "I'm making a big number on every single hole, it seems like," he said. "I'm struggling every hole.

      "Listen, my confidence is the lowest it's been in my entire career."

      However, like he insisted the previous day, Horschel said his form is not as far off as the crooked numbers on his scorecard might indicate.

      "As low as it feels, it feels like I'm not that far off at the same time," said Horschel, 36, a seven-time winner since joining the PGA Tour in 2011. "Which is insane to see when you see me shoot 84 today. It wouldn't make sense to a lot of people. But I don't think I'm that far off.

      "It's a day and I've had plenty of these days this year," added Horschel, who has missed six cuts in 15 events this season. "Not this bad, but it's just a day. We'll get by it."

      --Field Level Media