PGA Golf

PGA News Wire
  • Patrick Reed drops defamation lawsuit, files bigger one
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 29, 2022

    Patrick Reed dropped his $750 million defamation lawsuit against the Golf Channel and Brandel Chamblee in Texas only to refile a bigger one -- with more defendants -- in a Florida federal court.

    • Reed attorney Larry Klayman refiled the suit on Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville. Added to the list of defendants are Golf Channel employees Damon Hack, Shane Bacon and Eamon Lynch, and Golf Channel parent companies Golfweek and Gannett.

      The original claim, filed in August, alleged that Chamblee and Golf Channel conspired with the PGA Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan to defame Reed "since he was 23 years old" -- nine years ago.

      Reed's allegations include "misreporting information with falsity and/or reckless disregard of the truth, that is with actual and constitutional malice, purposely omitting pertinent key material facts to mislead the public, and actively targeting (Reed) to destroy his reputation, create hate, and a hostile work environment for him."

      Much of the same language is used in the new filing. The $750 million sought is for actual and compensatory damages; Reed claims he lost multimillion-dollar sponsorships as a result of being defamed by Chamblee et al.

      The new suit states that the defamation was "intentionally published and perpetrated by the Defendants in the state of Florida, where the offending acts were accessed, read, opened, and viewed by numerous third-party Florida residents and citizens."

      In January 2020, Reed's lawyer sent Chamblee a cease-and-desist letter demanding he not repeat accusations that Reed cheated during a tournament. Reed was penalized two strokes at the Hero World Challenge in 2019 for improving his lie in a bunker, but he claimed he didn't intend to do so.

      Chamblee continued to take Reed to task over the years, not only for cheating allegations but also for his decision to defect from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf earlier this year.

      --Field Level Media

  • PGA Tour files countersuit against LIV Golf
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 29, 2022

    The PGA Tour has filed a countersuit against the LIV Golf Series, claiming the renegade circuit interfered with contracts the Tour had with its players.

    • The Tour filed its countersuit Wednesday. It's a response to LIV's federal antitrust lawsuit filed in August, claiming the PGA Tour illegally suspended players for choosing to play LIV events.

      In its countersuit, the PGA Tour claims that LIV Golf offered "astronomical sums of money to induce them to breach their contracts with the Tour in an effort to use the LIV Players and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities and to further the Saudi Public Investment Fund's Vision 2030 initiatives."

      "Indeed, a key component of LIV's strategy has been to intentionally induce Tour members to breach their Tour agreements and play in LIV events while seeking to maintain their Tour memberships and play in marquee Tour events like The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup Playoffs, so LIV can free ride off the Tour and its platform," the PGA Tour complaint reads.

      "LIV has openly sought to damage the Tour's business relationships with its members by inducing them to breach their contractual requirements, even going so far as to pay members' legal fees to make breaching their contracts with Tour more enticing."

      The LIV Golf plaintiffs now include Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Jones, Peter Uihlein and LIV Golf itself. Phil Mickelson and three others are the latest to ask for removal as plaintiffs from the lawsuit.

      LIV Golf released a statement Thursday in reaction to the countersuit.

      "The Tour has made these counterclaims in a transparent effort to divert attention from their anti-competitive conduct, which LIV and the players detail in their 104-page complaint," LIV Golf said. "We remain confident that the courts and the justice system will right these wrongs."

      --Field Level Media

  • Rory McIlroy: 'Golf is ripping itself apart'
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 28, 2022

    Rory McIlroy finds himself in a field that includes several LIV Golf players at this week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews, Scotland, and once again, he didn't hesitate to express his thoughts on the Saudi-backed upstart circuit.

    • McIlroy told reporters that the LIV continues to create a divide across the sport -- and that divide isn't beneficial for any of the parties involved.

      "I don't want a fractured game. I never have. You look at some other sports and what's happened and the game of golf is ripping itself apart right now," McIlroy said. "It's no good for the guys on, you know, this side or the sort of traditional system and it's no good for the guys on the other side, either. It's no good for anyone. There is a time and a place for it. I just think right now, with where everything is, it's probably not the right time."

      Things are even starting to heat up in court, as multiple golfers challenged bans they had received from other tours for participating in an LIV event.

      "I've always said I think there is a time and a place where everyone that's involved here should sit down and try to work together," McIlroy said. "It's very hard for that to happen right now when there's two lawsuits going on."

      Those on the LIV circuit have also been adamant that they should receive points from the Official World Golf Ranking, something that McIlroy doesn't necessarily see any problems with considering a number of talented golfers are associated with the LIV.

      But with the LIV playing three rounds -- only 54 holes -- at each tournament while the PGA Tour plays four rounds, McIlroy said there needs to be some sort of compromise if that's going to happen.

      "You can't make up your own rules. There's criteria there, everyone knows what they are and if they want to pivot to meet the criteria they can," McIlroy said. "I certainly have no problem with them getting ranking points at all. But you just have to meet the criteria, and if you don't meet the criteria, it's going to be hard to justify why you should have them."

      As for the PGA Tour and LIV making peace with each other, that seems unlikely to happen, at least as long as Jay Monahan is commissioner of the PGA Tour.

      Monahan reiterated his long-stated opinion about LIV in an interview published by ESPN on Wednesday.

      Asked if the tours could coexist, Monahan replied, "I'd provide the same answer. The answer to that is they've gone down their path and I think we have been pretty consistent that we're going down ours, and I don't see that happening. Haven't, and I don't."

      Monahan expressed confidence that the PGA Tour will outlast LIV.

      "Any young kid today, any kid that's going to be playing the game going forward ultimately is going to want to win the biggest championships, the biggest tournaments, and put themselves in a position and on a path over the course of their golf journey to get to the PGA Tour and to ... achieve at the highest level," he said. "We are going to continue to evolve and get stronger in every single area of that spectrum or of that journey."

      --Field Level Media

  • 2022 Sanderson Farms Championship: Preview, Odds & Best Bets
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 28, 2022

    The second event of the 2022-23 PGA Tour season begins Thursday with the first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss.

    • Sam Burns is the defending champion and the top-ranked player in the field. Field Level Media's golf experts break down the key tournament notes along with the best bets to win at The Country Club of Jackson.

      SANDERSON FARMS CHAMPIONSHIP

      Jackson, Miss., Sept. 29-Oct. 2

      Course: The Country Club of Jackson (Par 72, 7,461 yards)

      Purse: $7.9M (Winner: 1.422M)

      Defending Champion: Sam Burns

      FedEx Cup leader: Max Homa

      HOW TO FOLLOW

      TV: Thursday-Friday, 3:30-6:30 p.m. ET; Saturday-Sunday, 4-7 p.m. (All times Golf Channel)

      Streaming: Thursday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

      Twitter: @Sanderson_Champ

      BEST BETS

      --Burns (+1000 at BetMGM) set the tournament scoring record of 22-under par for the first of his three victories last season. Burns is the pre-tournament favorite and the biggest liability at the sportsbook, where he leads with 9.1 percent of the winning tickets and 13.6 percent of the handle backing him.

      --Sahith Theegala (+1800) held the 54-hole lead last year before finishing T8. He is seeking his first PGA Tour win and coming off a T6 two weeks ago. Theegala is the second biggest liability for BetMGM, where he has been supported by 8.1 percent of the tickets and 8.2 percent of the handle.

      --J.T. Poston (+2200) has a best finish of third in 2020 in six previous appearances. His odds opened at +2000 but have lengthened a bit despite being third in the field with 5.0 percent of the winning tickets backing him.

      --Denny McCarthy (+2800) has seen his odds shorten from +2500. He has cooled off since a stretch of three top-10s in four starts earlier this year, but he finished T17 in Jackson last year.

      --Scott Stallings (+2800) is one of seven past champions (2012) in the field and making his eighth consecutive start in the event after reaching the Tour Championship last season.

      --Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+4000) posted a 1-0-1 record at the Presidents Cup.

      --Harris English (+5000) won twice in 2021 and competed in the Ryder Cup last year but was able to make only 12 starts last year due to hip surgery.

      --Byeong Hun An (+6600) is the sportsbook's third biggest liability this week, having drawn 5.8 percent of the handle to help shorten his odds after opened as a +8000 longshot. An has fallen to 234th in the world rankings but is coming off a T4 at the Fortinet Championship.

      NOTES

      --Burns made his professional debut at Sanderson Farms in 2017, finishing T43. Burns and Bezuidenhout of South Africa are the two players in the field who also competed in the Presidents Cup.

      --Six of the past eight Sanderson Farms winners have also been first-time PGA Tour winners.

      --2019 U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland is one of six major champions in the field.

      --Louisiana Tech's Sam Murphy and Southern Miss' Brice Wilkinson are among the sponsors exemptions, while Ole Miss graduate Jackson Suber will make his first PGA Tour start as a professional.

      --Mississippi native Davis Riley is in the field after finishing 33rd in the FedEx Cup as a rookie.

      --Field Level Media

  • LIV denies report of network TV buy agreement with FOX
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 28, 2022

    LIV Golf disputed a Golfweek report that it plans to secure coveted broadcast rights with FOX in an unusual airtime purchase agreement.

    • In a statement issued Wednesday, the new Saudi-backed circuit wrote, "LIV Golf has exceeded expectations and remains ahead of schedule across numerous fronts, including broadcast rights. As we have stated previously, LIV Golf is just beginning its process and is in active discussions with several companies about broadcasting the LIV Golf League.

      "We caution that no one should draw any conclusions about potential media rights given that we are still in the middle of negotiations with several outlets."

      To date, LIV's 54-hole events have been streamed on YouTube and on the new tour's website. Five events have been played this year and there are three more on the schedule, with a $50 million season finale in Miami in October.

      Most sports broadcasting rights deals see the network pay for the rights to air events. For example, the Big Ten Conference secured a new rights deal with multiple networks that could potentially pay $7 billion over seven years starting next summer.

      The PGA Tour media rights deal, which includes international rights, is worth $6.3 billion over nine years.

      But per the Golfweek report, LIV would pay FOX as if it were an advertiser and also be responsible for production and ad sales during the events, chores that typically are owned by the network.

      Because LIV is financially backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, criticism from fans and competing players has been constant.

      More than 20 former PGA Tour players, including prominent names such as Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and 2022 Open Championship winner Cam Smith of Australia, signed massive contracts to play on the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

      --Field Level Media

  • Phil Mickelson, 3 others take names off LIV's antitrust suit
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 27, 2022

    Phil Mickelson and three other golfers have asked to be dismissed as plaintiffs in LIV Golf's federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour.

    • Mickelson, Talor Gooch, Ian Poulter and Hudson Swafford filed a notice of voluntary dismissal Tuesday asking to be removed from the case.

      Earlier this month, Mickelson told reporters it was no longer necessary for him to be attached to the suit once LIV Golf joined the complaint as a plaintiff on Aug. 27.

      Eleven members of LIV Golf originally came together to bring the suit against the PGA Tour in August. They sought to challenge their suspension from the PGA Tour for participating in the first LIV event without the tour's consent.

      Four other golfers -- Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez and Jason Kokrak -- previously removed their names from the case.

      The remaining plaintiffs are LIV Golf, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein.

      "Nothing has changed," LIV Golf spokesman Jonathan Grella said in a statement on Tuesday. "The merits of the case -- the PGA Tour's anti-competitive conduct -- still stand and will be fully tested in court. And we look forward to that. LIV stands with the players whom the PGA Tour has treated so poorly, but we also recognize that to be successful, we no longer need a wide array of players to be on the suit. We have our players' backs and will press our case against the PGA Tour's anti-competitive behavior."

      --Field Level Media

  • Angela Stanford named Solheim Cup assistant captain
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 27, 2022

    Angela Stanford was named an assistant captain for the 2023 U.S. Solheim Cup team on Tuesday.

    • Captain Stacy Lewis previously named Morgan Pressel and Natalie Gulbis as assistant captains for the competition, scheduled for next September at Finca Cortesin in Spain.

      "I've known Angela for a long time and I'm so happy that she agreed to work with me at the 2023 Solheim Cup," Lewis said. "Angela has a great eye for statistics, finding the little details that go into picking the best players and making the right line-up combinations. As we look ahead to our week in Spain, I know that I have three great people -- and great friends -- who will work with me to bring these players the best experience, on both sides of the ropes."

      Stanford, 44, has been a member of the LPGA Tour since 2001. She has won seven titles, including her only major at the 2018 Amundi Evian Championship.

      She has competed in six Solheim Cups, representing Team USA in 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.

      In 2015, Stanford earned the winning point for the U.S. Team with her 2-and-1 victory over Suzann Pettersen. Pettersen is now the captain of Team Europe.

      "I am extremely honored and excited to be part of Stacy's team in 2023. Stacy's passion for women's golf and the Solheim Cup is truly awesome. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the Solheim Cup, and I'm so happy to represent my country again," Stanford said. "I look forward to the opportunity to learn from Stacy, Morgan and Natalie, and work to bring the Cup back to America!"

      Lewis and Stanford were U.S. teammates in 2011, 2013 and 2015, and were both assistant captains under captain Pat Hurst at the 2021 Solheim Cup.

      --Field Level Media

  • Justin Thomas on LIV's rankings gripe: 'It's their fault'
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 20, 2022

    Justin Thomas understands why LIV Golf players are fighting hard to receive world rankings points for their events, but he strongly disagrees with their stance.

    • LIV sent a letter to the chairman of the Official World Golf Ranking organization urging that players receive points for playing in the breakaway tour's events. The series even wants points to be retroactive to include the five events already staged.

      "I don't understand," Thomas said when asked about LIV's petition at the Presidents Cup on Tuesday. "It's very obvious and written right there in front of them. They just naturally want what's best for them, just like the decision they made to go there."

      Thomas is currently ranked seventh in the world and has twice reached No. 1. The top-ranked LIV player is No. 3 Cameron Smith, who didn't leave for the Saudi-backed league until after the Tour Championship. Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson has slid all the way to No. 23 and Brooks Koepka is 29th.

      If LIV does not convince the OWGR board to include the series, its players will continue to plummet down the World Ranking, making it increasingly difficult to qualify for major championships.

      "Hey, if I was doing the same situation, I would want it, but that doesn't necessarily make it right," Thomas said. "The governing bodies have created a system for a reason, and that's to try to create the best system possible to determine the best players in the world.

      "Is it going to be skewed because some of the top players aren't going to be in there? Yes. But that's their own fault for making the decision they made, and they knew very, very well going into it there's a good chance they won't have World Ranking points, and they took that risk.

      "In my opinion, that's their own fault."

      Billy Horschel will make his Presidents Cup debut this week on the United States team along with Thomas. He agreed that the LIV series currently fails to meet most of the OWGR criteria and therefore should not be included in the rankings system until it does.

      "They knew when they signed that contract and took all that money what could come in the future for them," Horschel said. "They had to weigh those decisions and what the outcome could be by going there and the things they may not get in the future. They made that decision to sign the contract and take the money."

      Some of their U.S. teammates this week took a more measured response.

      World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler called the situation to gauge the rankings argument of 54-hole events with invitational fields and no cuts "challenging," but otherwise steered clear of the debate.

      Max Homa, who will also be making his Presidents Cup debut this week, said the decision is ultimately up to the OWGR and not people's opinions, but added that he would not have a problem with LIV players receiving world rankings points.

      "To my eye, it seems like they should get World Ranking points," he said. "It seems like if 48 great golfers play in tournaments, week in and week out, to my eye, (they) should get points. But there is a criteria.

      "That's how the world works."

      --Field Level Media

  • Davis Love III: LIV players not missed at Presidents Cup -- even D.J.
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 20, 2022

    Captain Davis Love III was blunt when asked whether supporting the PGA Tour was more important than having the 12 best players on the United States roster at this week's Presidents Cup.

    • "We have both," Love said.

      It was among the bevy of questions related to LIV Golf asked of Love and International team captain Trevor Immelman during Tuesday's opening press conference -- although the Saudi-backed breakaway league was never referred to by name.

      Love has been one of the most outspoken supporters of the PGA Tour -- and critics of LIV Golf -- over the past several months. However, he insisted that Dustin Johnson, two-time major champion and former World No. 1 who is one of LIV's marquee signings, would have taken the spot of a player in better form had he been available for the Presidents Cup.

      "On current form back a couple of months ago, Dustin would have been a (captain's) pick from wherever he was in points -- pretty far down. But he would have been a veteran pick," Love said when specifically asked about Johnson. "Obviously, he was the hero of the (Ryder Cup) team at Whistling Straits. He was a great partner for (Collin) Morikawa.

      "So, yes, we miss him. But I think, on points, we've pretty much got the guys we wanted to get. We would have had to make a spot for him as a pick further down, unless he got on a huge roll in the FedEx Cup," Love added. "There's no talk in our team room about anybody missing."

      The quality of the competition has been a primary topic this week. The United States has an 11-1-1 record in the event and Immelman's roster includes eight rookies. He is without the likes of Australia's Cameron Smith and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, who have joined LIV.

      Immelman said it was made very clear to those players ahead of time that signing with LIV would mean losing out on playing in the Presidents Cup.

      "Every single player that ended up going, and not going, knew what the situation was. It was part of the decision-making process for all of them," he said. "Am I disappointed they're not able to be here? Yeah, absolutely. But we have the 12 guys here that we love and that wanted to be here. And now we get to go.

      "We're looking forward."

      Both captains took veiled shots at LIV Golf during the 45-minute session.

      Asked about being the huge favorite this week, Love said, "It doesn't really matter who the favorite is in match play. That's why in the regular season (on the PGA Tour) we only play it once, because you never know what's going to happen."

      The LIV Golf format consists of four-man teams competing in 54-hole, no-cut events with shotgun starts.

      Immelman said it was like "Christmas morning" for his eight rookies, who get to spend the week in the team room with former major champions Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama.

      "Our team is a team that plays by the rules," Immelman said. "We're a team of our word, a team of honor. And so, that's where we're at."

      Love closed his portion of the media session by addressing one of the biggest talking points in the battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. Multiple players who have made the move to LIV have said part of their decision was to help grow the game of golf.

      "There is a little bit of tension and strife in the game right now," Love acknowledged. "But not amongst the golf organizations. They're working hard to do everything to grow the game. We need to take the momentum from the pandemic, and everyone getting outside and there's no tee times and not enough golf balls. We need to take that momentum and continue to grow the game. And that's what the PGA Tour does.

      "Nobody else does it better than the PGA Tour."

      --Field Level Media

  • LIV golfers urge inclusion in world ranking points
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 20, 2022

    LIV Golf Series golfers sent a letter to the chairman of the Official World Golf Ranking organization to urge their inclusion in the points ranking system.

    • The letter, sent to the media on Tuesday, was signed by the 48 players who played in the LIV Invitational Chicago this past weekend. The tournament was won by Cameron Smith of Australia, who was the No. 2 player in the world playing on the PGA Tour before jumping to the upstart circuit. He has fallen to No. 3 despite his success on the LIV circuit because he is unable to earn points.

      "To maintain trust, we urge you -- as one of the true statesmen of sports -- to act appropriately to include, on a retroactive basis, the results of LIV Golf events in OWGR's ranking calculations," the players wrote in the letter. "An OWGR without LIV would be incomplete and inaccurate, the equivalent of leaving the Big 10 or the SEC out of the U.S. college football rankings, or leaving Belgium, Argentina, and England out of the FIFA rankings."

      To date, LIV players have not received ranking points for the first five tournaments staged by the breakaway tour

      "Some 23 tours are integrated into the OWGR universe, and LIV has earned its place among them," the letter said. "LIV's roster includes 21 of the last 51 winners of the four Majors. The level of competition at the average LIV event is at least equal to that at the average PGA Tour event. We know because we've played in both. Every week that passes without the inclusion of LIV athletes undermines the historical value of OWGR."

      At issue is that OWGR standings are used to determine exemptions for golf's four major championships and to qualify for the Olympics.

      The OWGR board began consideration of LIV's application for inclusion in a meeting that took place at The Open in St. Andrews in July.

      However, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley are among the OWGR board members.

      "The case for LIV's inclusion is strong, but we have concerns that members of your Governing Board are conflicted and are keeping the OWGR from acting as it should," LIV golfers wrote in the letter. "Four of the eight members have connections to the PGA Tour, which unfortunately views LIV Golf as an antagonist. Other members of the Board have made unfairly harsh remarks about LIV, with one of them calling the organization 'not credible.'"

      Billy Horschel, who is competing for the United States at this week's Presidents Cup, said he was aware of the letter sent by LIV Golf.

      "All of those guys knew, when they left the PGA Tour, there was a good chance they may not get World Ranking Points anymore," Horschel said. "Unfortunately, they were told that they were going to get World Ranking Points by their colleagues.

      "That's what they feel, based off of Greg Norman and the people over there, feel like they should get World Ranking Points right away. That's not going to happen. That's not the process in place. And for Greg to continue to attack Jay Monahan, Keith Pelley, and say there's a bias in place for not awarding them World Ranking Points, just follow the rules. They don't meet the criteria right now based off their Tour to be awarded World Ranking Points.

      "They knew when they signed that contract and took all that money what could come in the future for them. As I said in the beginning, they had to weigh those decisions and what the outcome could be by going there and the things they may not get in the future. They made that decision to sign the contract and take the money."

      --Field Level Media

  • Greg Norman going before D.C. lawmakers to defend LIV
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 19, 2022

    LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman heads to Capitol Hill later this week where he is scheduled to sit down with lawmakers in an attempt to improve the company's public image.

    • The LIV Golf Invitational Series launched earlier this year and has remained in the news for the legal battle with the PGA Tour and criticism it continues to receive for its use of Saudi financing.

      "LIV Golf is coming to the Hill this week to meet with lawmakers from both parties," LIV spokesperson Jonathan Grella said in a statement to Politico and other outlets. "Given the PGA Tour's attempts to stifle our progress in reimagining the game, we think it's imperative to educate members on LIV's business model and counter the Tour's anti-competitive efforts."

      Lawyers for LIV Golf and several of its players have accused the PGA Tour in a federal antitrust lawsuit of improperly suspending members for their involvement in LIV. Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau are among the players involved in the lawsuit, though Mickelson recently said he might opt to remove his name from the lawsuit.

      LIV has been intertwined with political issues from the very start, with Mickelson admitting to author Alan Shipnuck in February that Saudi Arabia -- whose Public Investment Fund is financing the big-money LIV tour -- were "scary m--------s" with a bad human rights record. The Saudi ties have also caught the attention of Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

      "My problem is, you have a billion dollars of Saudi money coming in and essentially buying off some of the participants in the PGA Tour with a direct goal of essentially breaking the back of the Tour," U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) told the Wall Street Journal in July.

      Former President Donald Trump has supported LIV in its attempts to rival the PGA Tour. Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey hosted LIV's third event and Trump Doral in Miami will host the season finale.

      The Department of Justice also opened a probe into the PGA Tour this year, investigating whether it is trying to act as an illegal monopoly.

      --Field Level Media

  • Trio tied for lead at Portland Classic
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 17, 2022

    Lilia Vu, Andrea Lee and Ayaka Furue are tied atop the leaderboard after third-round action Saturday at the AmazingCre Portland Classic in Portland, Ore.

    • The trio sits at 13-under-par 203 and are being stalked by another four golfers one-shot back at 12 under at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

      Vu, the co-leader after 36 holes, fired a 69 while Lee and Furue of Japan carded matching 67s.

      Hannah Green (68), Hinako Shibuno (66), Daniela Darquea (68) and Paula Reto (67) are tied for second place. Second round co-leader Esther Henseleit (71) and Ryann O'Toole (67) are just two shots back at 11 under in a tie for eighth.

      Lee and Furue played their way into a tie for first on moving day.

      Lee nearly posted a clean round but bogeyed No. 15 to go with six birdies. Meanwhile, Furue did record a bogey-free round, finishing with five birdies.

      "It's very important to play bogey-free golf," Furue said. "I believe it's more important than getting birdies, not having bogeys. So I'm very happy with that today."

      Lee got off to a fast start, opening with a birdie to finish with three on the front nine.

      "I think this week so far I've been playing the front nine pretty well. Just birdieing one of the par 5s each day and just getting pars and making the putts that I can," Lee said. "A lot of the girls are just dropping bombs and making so many birdies out there. I think the par 5s, you definitely need to take advantage of those to go low."

      Vu, on the other hand, opened with a bogey and carded two on the front nine. But she rebounded with four birdies, coming in to finish with five total.

      "This course demands a lot off the tee, and I just wasn't feeling good," Vu said. "My back has been hurting. I'm actually going to go see the physio after this. Just trying to stay patient with my back and then also not get too frantic when I'm not hitting fairways."

      Carlota Ciganda (71), Caroline Inglis (69), Frida Kinhult (65) and Maja Stark (70) are also within striking distance of the lead in a tie for 10th, three shots back. Kinhult vaulted 29 spots up the leaderboard with the low round of the day.

      --Field Level Media

  • Former top amateur David Puig: ‘Pretty easy decision to join LIV’
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 16, 2022

    Until recently, the best amateur golfers in the college ranks were hoping and dreaming to reach the PGA Tour one day.

    • But David Puig wasn't swayed by the history of the PGA, saying Thursday it was a "pretty easy decision" to join LIV Golf when he turned pro earlier this month.

      Puig, a native of Spain, played at Arizona State and was the ninth-ranked amateur golfer in the world when he chose to turn pro. He played in two of LIV's first three events -- London and Bedminster, N.J. -- before turning pro.

      Puig was asked ahead of this week's LIV Golf Invitational Chicago why now was the right time for him to turn pro and choose LIV over the PGA.

      "Why now? You know, I actually think I had a pretty good amateur career, and I didn't get a lot of -- or basically just one opportunities to play with pros before LIV even started," Puig said. "LIV was very supportive, and they gave me two exemptions as an amateur, which I really appreciated them a lot. They also gave me an opportunity to play against the best players in the world, so it was obviously a tough decision to leave ASU, but it was a pretty easy decision to join LIV."

      Asked if he had ever applied for an exemption to play the PGA Tour's Waste Management Phoenix Open while at nearby Arizona State, Puig said he hadn't tried.

      "Not really," Puig said. "At least for what I know, getting into the Phoenix Open is pretty tough, especially when a guy is from Spain. ... Being from Spain, I would say it's just pretty tough because I would say they'd rather give the exemptions to people that are local."

      To that end, Puig has found Spanish-speaking mentors at LIV as the controversial organization continues to sign golfers from around the world. Countryman Sergio Garcia gave him advice, and the captain of Puig's team, Torque, is Chile's Joaquin Niemann, the No. 20 player in the world.

      Puig did not discuss the hefty signing bonuses LIV has handed out, nor where the money comes from. The Saudi Investment Fund finances the tour, which has led to widespread criticism of "sportswashing" its image.

      "Here in LIV they take care of you really good, which is awesome, and then the courses we play, they're really good, too," Puig said. "I played two courses and now this one, Rich Harvest Farms. All of the three courses were really good, so that is also helpful.

      "And then the players. We started in London with a pretty good amount of really good players, and every day it's growing. Now the field we have here at LIV is crazy, and it's really good."

      --Field Level Media

  • Bryson DeChambeau: LIV ban 'hurting' Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 16, 2022

    The Presidents Cup will tee off next week without some of the biggest names in American golf in the field, and Bryson DeChambeau thinks that wrong.

    • DeChambeau and others who signed on with the upstart LIV Golf Series are ineligible to play in the competition, which pits Team USA against a team of international players. The PGA Tour indefinitely suspended all players who have joined LIV from the tour as well as events such as the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.

      "I personally think that the team events are only hurting themselves by not allowing us to play, not allowing us to qualify through some capacity, in some facet," DeChambeau said ahead of the LIV-sponsored Chicago Invitational, which began Friday.

      DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson all took part in the United States' Ryder Cup win in Wisconsin last fall but will be ineligible in 2023.

      Play in the Presidents Cup begins Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. DeChambeau said he will be watching.

      "I'm a golf fan, first and foremost," he said. "I'm going to watch golf wherever it's played with some of the best players in the world, whoever it is."

      DeChambeau, 28, has won eight PGA Tour events, including the 2020 U.S. Open. He doesn't want his PGA Tour career to be over, however, and he is among the LIV golfers who have filed an antitrust suit against the tour.

      "I want to play in numerous events on the PGA Tour. It would be awesome," he said. "That's what LIV Golf has tried to do -- they have allowed us to play on the PGA Tour. It's the PGA Tour barring us from doing so."

      In an interview in July, DeChambeau said he signed with the Saudi-backed LIV for more than $125 million through the end of 2026. He has career earnings of $26.7 million on the PGA Tour.

      --Field Level Media

  • Phil Mickelson considering taking name off LIV suit against PGA Tour
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 15, 2022

    Phil Mickelson said it's no longer "necessary" to be attached to an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour and he has yet to decide whether he'll stick with it or remove his name.

    • Speaking to reporters at Rich Harvest Farms ahead of this weekend's LIV Golf Invitational Chicago, Mickelson expressed his confidence in the suit now that the LIV Golf entity has joined its players in it.

      "Now that LIV is involved, it's not necessary for me to be involved," Mickelson said. "I currently still am. I don't know what I'm going to do, really.

      "The only reason for me to stay in is (monetary) damages, which I don't really want or need anything. I do think it's important that the players have the right to play when and where they want, when and where they qualify for. And now that LIV is a part of it, that will be accomplished if and when they win."

      Eleven members of LIV Golf originally came together to bring the suit against the PGA Tour in August. They sought to challenge their suspension from the PGA Tour for participating in the first LIV event without the tour's consent.

      Since then, Jason Kokrak, Pat Perez and Mexico's Carlos Ortiz and Abraham Ancer dropped out of the lawsuit.

      If Mickelson also drops out, it would leave Bryson DeChambeau, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, Peter Uihlein, Matt Jones of Australia and England's Ian Poulter as the remaining plaintiffs, along with LIV Golf itself.

      "Banning Plaintiffs and other top professional golfers from its own events degrades the Tour's strength of field and diminishes the quality of the product that it offers to golf fans by depriving them from seeing many top golfers participate in Tour events," the lawsuit argues. "The only conceivable benefit to the Tour from degrading its own product in this manner is the destruction of competition. Indeed, the Tour has conceded its nakedly anticompetitive purpose in attacking and injuring the players."

      Mickelson is no longer interested in returning to the PGA Tour, saying at the previous LIV event in the Boston area that he has "moved on" and trying to build LIV into a world-class golf league.

      --Field Level Media

  • Greg Norman: PGA Tour trying to ‘destroy’ LIV
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 15, 2022

    LIV Golf Series CEO and commissioner Greg Norman said he's not interested in a truce with the PGA Tour, which he accused of trying to destroy the upstart series.

    • Norman made the comments in an interview with The Australian this week.

      "This notion we're trying to destroy tours is not true. The PGA Tour is trying to destroy us, it's as simple as that," Norman told The Australian.

      Further, Norman said he's done with outreach efforts with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan after being rebuffed several times.

      "We have no interest in sitting down with them, to be honest with you, because our product is working," Norman said in the interview.

      Financially backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, LIV has lured more than two dozen players from the PGA Tour, including Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.

      Norman said Wednesday that there's wide interest in LIV's television rights.

      "We're talking to four different networks -- and live conversations where offers are being put on the table," Norman told ESPN 1000 Chicago. "Because (the networks) can see the value of our product, they can see what we're delivering."

      On Thursday, however, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple and Amazon -- which have jumped into the sports business with rights to stream MLB and NFL games, respectively -- both said they are not interested in streaming LIV play.

      LIV will hold its fifth event of its inaugural season this week near Chicago.

      --Field Level Media

  • 2022 Fortinet Championship: Preview, Odds & Best Bets
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 14, 2022

    The PGA Tour returns from a two-week break following the Tour Championship to kick off the 2022-23 season with the Fortinet Championship.

    • The event begins Thursday on the North Course of the Silverado Resort in Napa, Calif. This is the final time it serves as the start of the "wraparound" schedule as the PGA Tour returns to a calendar-based season in 2024.

      FORTINET CHAMPIONSHIP

      Location: Napa, Calif., Sept. 15-18

      Course: Silverado Resort and Spa, North Course (Par 72, 7,123 yards)

      Purse: $8M (Winner: $1.44M)

      Defending Champion: Max Homa

      FedEx Cup leader: First Event

      HOW TO FOLLOW

      TV: Thursday-Sunday, 6-9 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

      Streaming: Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (ESPN+)

      Twitter: @FortinetChamp

      NOTES

      --As part of sweeping changes being steadily implemented by the PGA Tour, the top 70 players after the Wyndham Championship will qualify for the playoffs, with the top 125 not being finalized until the end of 2023.

      --Rickie Fowler is in the field for the first time since 2010 as he returns to action following a recent change in swing coaches. He has moved from +12500 to +10000 at BetMGM, where Fowler has been backed by 2.5 percent of the winning bets and 1.2 percent of the handle.

      --Homa is the lone United States team member in the field who will participate in next week's Presidents Cup. Four International Team members are playing this week: Corey Conners (Canada), Cam Davis (Australia), Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) and Taylor Pendrith (Canada).

      --All but one of the 28 PGA Tour rookies are in the field this week. Justin Suh, who topped the combined Points List on the Korn Ferry Tour, is fully exempt this season.

      --Zac Blair and Kyle Stanley are each playing their first event on major medical extensions.

      BEST BETS

      --Matsuyama (+1400 at BetMGM) is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 16 and finished T6 last year. He returns to action after finishing tied for 11th at the Tour Championship. Matsuyama is fourth at the sportsbook, having drawn 5.7 percent of the bets along with 4.3 percent of the handle.

      --Homa (T5 at the Tour Championship), Tom Hoge (10th), Conners (26th) and Sahith Theegala (28th) all return to action as well. They have also been among the most popular players at BetMGM, with Theegala the biggest liability with 9.0 percent of the bets and 14.4 percent of the handle at +2800. Homa is the third biggest liability while being backed by 7.2 and 10.7 percent of the action, respectively. Conners is being offered at +1600 and Hoge at +4000.

      --Maverick McNealy (+2500) finished second by a single shot last year and went on to reach the second leg of the playoffs. He is the sportsbook's second biggest liability this week with 5.8 percent of the bets and 7.7 percent of the handle backing him.

      --J.J. Spaun has been one of the most popular longshot picks, garnering 1.9 and 2.5 percent of the action as his odds have shortened from +10000 to +8000. Spaun finished T8 at the Rocket Mortgage classic over the summer on his way to reaching the second leg of the playoffs, where he tied for 23rd at the BMW Championship.

      --Field Level Media

  • Sophia Popov (shoulder) to miss remainder of 2022 season
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 14, 2022

    Germany's Sophia Popov, the 2020 AIG Women's Open champion, will miss the remainder of the 2022 LPGA season with a shoulder injury.

    • Popov, 29, had been dealing with shoulder issues since the spring, with an MRI in August confirming an injury to a tendon in her rotator cuff.

      At Royal Troon in the 2020 Women's Open, Popov pulled off a major upset with a two-stroke victory. She was ranked No. 304 in the world at the time of her victory, which remains her lone triumph on the LPGA Tour.

      Popov, who was born in the United States and moved to Germany at the age of 4, represented Europe in the 2021 Solheim Cup. She also attended Southern California and won the 2010 International European Ladies Amateur Championship before turning professional in 2014.

      A member of USC's 2013 national championship team, Popov has $661,832 in career earnings and currently is ranked No. 121 in the world.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rory McIlroy: European Ryder Cup team 'in need of rebuild'
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 14, 2022

    Rory McIlroy on Wednesday reiterated his stance against having LIV Golf players compete on Team Europe at next year's Ryder Cup.

    • "I have said it once, I've said it a hundred times: I don't think any of those guys should be on the Ryder Cup team," McIlroy said.

      McIlroy's comments came as several of Europe's top players prepare to compete in the Italian Open on the Marco Simone course outside Rome that will host the 2023 Ryder Cup. U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrell Hatton of England as well as Viktor Hovland of Norway will participate in the Italian Open.

      While Team Europe could receive a facelift due to the uncertainty surrounding players who had defected to LIV Golf, McIlroy doesn't see that as much of an issue.

      "I think we were in need of a rebuild, anyway," McIlroy said. "It was sort of, we did well with the same guys for a very long time, but everything comes to an end at some point. I think Whistling Straits is a good sort of demarcation, I guess.

      "That's all behind us. We have got a core group of guys, but let's build on that again, and instead of filling those three or four spots with older veterans, let's blood some rookies and let's get them in and build toward the future. I think that's important."

      Fitzpatrick, however, is taking a more neutral view on LIV golfers playing for Team Europe.

      "I said it last week, and I just want to win The Ryder Cup, so in my opinion, I want to be part of the team myself but I want the 11 best guys we can get," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm not really too bothered about where they are going to come from. I just want to make sure that we win and I think that's what's most important. I know other guys might not necessarily agree with that but I know the winning feeling is worth more than any sort of arguments you might have with other players."

      --Field Level Media

  • World No. 1 Jin Young Ko (wrist) out until late October
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 13, 2022

    World No. 1 Jin Young Ko will not participate in this week's Portland Classic due to a nagging wrist injury.

    • Ko won the event in 2021 but will not have the opportunity to win back-to-back titles. Ko's representatives announced Tuesday that she would pass on the next several tournaments to rest the wrist.

      "According to her management, Jin Young is sitting out the next few weeks under medical advisement for an overworked wrist," an LPGA statement read. "She hopes to return at the BMW Ladies Championship."

      Ko is currently undergoing medical treatments on her wrist that were recommended by her doctor, Golfweek reported. The BMW Ladies Championship is scheduled for Oct. 20-23 in her native South Korea.

      The timeline means she also will miss the Ascendent LPGA event Sept. 29-Oct. 2, where she is also the reigning champion.

      The same injury plagued Ko last season. Prior to last year's CME Group Tour Championship, Ko struggled to warm up before any of her rounds due to wrist pain. She wasn't taking full swings with clubs beyond the 52-degree wedge.

      Ko, 27, missed the cut in her last two outings. She has one win this year, finishing atop the leaderboard at the HSBC Women's World Championship.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: LIV Golf finale to feature record $50 million purse
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 13, 2022

    When LIV Golf holds its season-ending Team Championship next month, a prize purse of $50 million will be up for grabs, the richest purse in golf history, ESPN reported Tuesday.

    • The LIV Golf Team Championship will be contested Oct. 27-30 at Trump National Doral outside Miami. Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund finances the upstart tour that's peeled away dozens of players from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.

      Golf Magazine and ESPN also reported previously unknown details about the team championship's format, which could feature a closest-to-the-pin contest.

      LIV Golf's rules and regulations were released by a U.S. District Court in California amid the group's antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour. The Team Championship's description was initially redacted before being released Tuesday.

      "The Team Series Championship will be played over four days as a match-play head-to-head knock-out playoff, with the winning Team crowned as the ‘Team Series Champion,'" one passage says. "Each team will be ranked and seeded one (1) through twelve (12) for competition in the Team Series Championship based on a shootout undertaken immediately following the Player Draft preceding the Team Series Championship, with each Team Captain having one (1) shot to hit toward a target in a ‘nearest the pin'-style shootout."

      The winning four-man team would win $16 million, or $4 million per player. The second-place team would win $10 million, with $8 million going to third, $4 million to fourth, $2 million for Nos. 5-8 and $1 million for ninth through 12th, meaning even a golfer on the last-place team would be guaranteed to take home $250,000.

      According to ESPN, a LIV spokesperson said details were not yet finalized and the format would be announced at a later date.

      --Field Level Media

  • Annika Sorenstam to host Tampa-area LPGA Tour stop
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 13, 2022

    Annika Sorenstam will host a rebranded LPGA Tour event in the Tampa Bay area in November 2023.

    • The official title for the tournament at Pelican Golf Club is a mouthful: THE ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican.

      "It is an incredible honor to host one of the premier events on the LPGA Tour schedule at Pelican Golf Club," Sorenstam said. "... Giving back to the game I love and mentoring the game's next generation of players have always been at the forefront of everything we do. I'm excited to kick off this great new partnership and elevate this tournament to new heights on the LPGA Tour."

      THE ANNIKA will be the penultimate event on the LPGA Tour calendar.

      The 2023 purse will be announced during the 2022 Pelican Women's Championship, scheduled for Nov. 10-13 at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Fla.

      Sorenstam, 51, won 72 titles on the LPGA Tour, including 10 major championships. She won a record eight Rolex Player of the Year awards and earned more than $22 million before her retirement in 2008.

      --Field Level Media

  • Top college player David Puig leaves Arizona State for LIV Golf
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 12, 2022

    One of the best players in college golf, David Puig, is jumping straight to the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

    • Puig, a native of Spain who was a two-time All-American at Arizona State, announced on social media Monday that he is turning pro.

      "Although it has probably been the hardest decision that I've ever made, I've decided to turn professional this week," Puig wrote. "However, I'm still an ASU student and plan to graduate in the next year. My base will be in Tempe, hopefully forever. What a great place to live and become a champion golfer!"

      Puig did not mention the controversial LIV Golf circuit by name, but he had already been announced as part of the field for this week's LIV Golf Invitational Chicago, a replacement for countryman Adrian Otaegui on Torque GC.

      In addition, the 20-year-old played in two LIV tournaments as an amateur. He finished 40th at the circuit's debut event outside London and 42nd in Bedminster, N.J. He was the ninth-ranked amateur in the world before turning pro.

      --Field Level Media

  • Sergio Garcia faces fine for pulling out BMW PGA
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 12, 2022

    Sergio Garcia faces a fine by the DP World Tour if he doesn't provide proof of an emergency or medical issue for withdrawing from the BMW PGA Championship on Saturday before the tournament's second round.

    • He shot a first-round 76 in the event, which was shortened to 54 holes following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last Thursday.

      On Saturday morning in the United States, television cameras caught him in Austin, Texas, where he was attending the football game between Texas and then-No. 1 Alabama. His wife, Angela Akins Garcia, played college golf at Texas.

      The Telegraph reported that, as of Monday, Garcia had yet to provide a reason for the withdrawal to officials at the Wentworth Club in Surrey, England, where the event was held. Garcia, 42, or his management company must provide a valid reason within three weeks, or Garcia will be fined.

      According to the DP World Tour rules handbook, a player may withdraw only for "emergency reasons or medical circumstances deemed reasonable by the tournament director."

      --Field Level Media

  • Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose pull out of BMW PGA Championship
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 10, 2022

    Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose withdrew from the BMW PGA Championship before Saturday's second round of the DP World Tour event.

    • The tournament was shortened to 54 holes following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. It is being played at the Wentworth Club in Surrey, England.

      Rose, who shot a first-round 73, cited a back injury as his reason for pulling out of the event.

      Garcia didn't give a reason. However, he was captured by television cameras in Austin, Texas, where he joined Masters champion Scottie Scheffler on the sidelines before kickoff of Saturday's marquee game between Texas and No. 1 Alabama.

      Garcia has had issues with the DP World Tour this summer after joining the LIV Golf Series, threatening to quit the DP World Tour before backing off.

      Garcia is scheduled to play next week at the LIV event at Rich Harvest Farms near Chicago.

      --Field Level Media