Dan Box
By Dan Box

Another week goes by with another host of headlines, crazy moments and big-money deals to dissect. From Succession-level business investments, to 60+mph winds at Pebble Beach and yet another Tiger Woods comeback on the cards, the ongoing soap opera that is professional golf has provided plenty more talking points over the last few days.

The 5 Biggest Talking Points In Golf This Week

Here's a roundup of all the biggest stories that you need to know...

The PGA Tour's new deal - what does it actually mean?

On Wednesday, the PGA Tour announced details of a $3 billion private equity deal from the Strategic Sports Group, funded by a number of billionaire investors and sports team owners, providing much-needed investment into the Tour and giving some of the 200 players the chance to become 'equity partners'.

Essentially, this move has been made for two main reasons. First is to keep the Tour's membership happy as they get rewarded with a share of the cash for staying loyal to the Tour.

Second is to provide much-needed support to the PGA Tour who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the last couple of years in legal fees, PIP bonuses and inflated prize money in order to keep up with LIV.

Whilst PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said that the investment still 'allows for co-investment from the PIF in the future', we're still none-the-wiser as to when and how this may come about - meaning the two tours remain as rivals for the time being.

And where does this leave the DP World Tour, which supposedly in a 'strategic partnership' with the PGA Tour but did not get mentioned in the news of the investment this week.

Perhaps Eddie Pepperell sums it up best:

"Guys out here need to be realistic about the value we add and, let's be honest, over a 12-month period there are weeks when we add a lot of value and weeks when we really don't. It's recognising where we sit in the golfing landscape, and frankly we're third."

LIV Golf returns for 2024

CEO of LIV Golf Greg Norman promised new signings for the 2024 season, and they managed to get one of the biggest names in the game, with Jon Rahm becoming the PGA Tour's biggest loss to date in a groundbreaking move which was reportedly worth more than £400 million.

Rahm's new team, Legion XIII, also featured Ryder Cup star and new recruit Tyrrell Hatton at the first event of 2024 in Mayakoba. Legion XIII picked up the team prize, with Joaquin Niemann winning the individual event in a playoff over Sergio Garcia.

LIV Golf's decision to stage two events back-to-back up against Pebble Beach and WM Phoenix Open, which have historically been two of the most iconic events on the PGA Tour schedule, show that they clearly aren't backing down in their attempts to take fans away from the 'traditional' weekend viewing.

Whilst the league may still be struggling to attract huge viewership to their events - just over 150,000 people have tuned in to watch their free broadcast of the final round at Mayakoba on YouTube - they did have 2 of the 4 major winners from last year and if this continues, it will continue to apply pressure on the powers-that-be when it comes to World Ranking points (more on that shortly).

Strength of field - LIV better than PGA?

Whilst the PGA Tour clearly have much larger membership than LIV Golf, which is restricted to just 52 players in its league, a look at the leaderboards from this week's events prove that when it comes to star names, they are more than able to keep up with the PGA Tour during most weeks.

Whilst Ludvig Aberg, Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas are pretty big names in the golfing world, there were four major winners in the Top 10 at Pebble Beach compared to six at LIV Mayakoba, and that includes Rahm, Cam Smith and Brooks Koepka who have each won a major in the last couple of years.

LIV Golf analyst Jerry Foltz was overheard on the broadcast claiming that the four majors are on the verge of have a 'metaphorical asterisk' against their name if they do not boast the strongest fields in the game, and whilst any comments made by broadcasters during LIV Golf coverage have to be taken with a pinch of salt, he may have a point. Which leads me nicely on to the next area of discussion...

World Ranking Points: Time for change

It would be hard to argue that Joaquin Niemann is not playing like one of the best golfers in the world at the moment. The Chilean shot an opening round of 59 on his way to victory at LIV Mayakoba, which followed another win at the Australian Open and a T4 finish at the Dubai Desert Classic, all three of which featured strong fields.

The fact that Niemann doesn't receive ranking points for his latest victory, and therefore is currently ineligible for The Masters in April, does seem slightly ridiculous, as does the fact that he is currently ranked 74th in the world.

This is only heightened by the fact that Wyndham Clark jumped from 10th to 6th in the Rankings, after an amazing performance at Pebble Beach, even though the event was shortened to 54 holes - the same number played on the LIV tour - due to brutal winds and rain hitting California on Sunday.

Of course there will be some who say that Niemann knew the risks he was taking when he decided to join LIV Golf, which is true, but surely it makes for a better spectacle if all of the world's best golfers are at Augusta National during Masters week?

Dustin Johnson, a two-time major winner who has also won in each of the last two LIV seasons, is 218th in the World Rankings, which is pretty laughable.

If Angel Cabrera can still get an invite, then surely Niemann deserves one...

Tiger Woods to return next week?

Tiger hosts the Genesis Invitational and, after suggesting that he will play around one tournament per month in 2024, has dropped a couple of not-so-subtle hints that he will make his 2024 debut at Riviera.

Whilst everyone will be eager to see how he performs, and how his body holds up, in a full PGA Tour event, it will also be interesting to hear his thoughts on the ongoing PGA Tour-LIV Golf saga, and the new private equity deal that was signed last week.


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