LIV’s major future might depend upon a bold new strategy

In early 2022, Majed Al-Sorour, then CEO of LIV Golf, made a strong impression at major golf championships .

“What if the experts decide not to compete with our players? I will celebrate. I will create my own major leagues for my players,” he told Zach Helfand of The New Yorker. “Honestly, I think all tournaments are run by people who don’t understand business.” claiming his comments were taken out of context but to no avail, his words fell on the golf world like a hand grenade. At this point,

LIV showed a passing interest in the art of diplomacy, instead favoring the slightly simpler strategy of burning sports facilities to the ground. As the first new golf tournament in decades, their strategy is disruption – a performance art form that doesn’t have many opportunities to partner with existing golf facilities.

Until about a week ago.
Then came the news from the Official World Golf Ranking: The request to include

LIV was denied. While Rank’s decision wasn’t exactly a surprise — it had been threatening to disavow LIV for refusing to follow OWGR guidelines for months — it landed painfully at LIV headquarters. The league knows that OWGR is its best chance for long-term participation in the major leagues. Without inclusion in the system and without valuable ranking points that allow players to qualify for golf’s major championships, LIV players will fall into the abyss of playing golf without qualifying Participate in the main tournament.

Takes us to Miami. Over the weekend, as LIV played its final tournament of its second season, several reports said the federation had begun discussions with golf’s governing bodies about exemptions for future major championships. their response.

(Each major golf championship is governed by a different governing body: Augusta National for the Masters, PGA of America for the PGA Championship, USGA for the US Open and R&A for the Open Championship.)

Yes, The news spelled doom for the up-and-comers, who found themselves without any alternatives to qualify for major championships. But it also represents a significant change in approach, a new strategy on which the entire future of the major LIV championship may depend: diplomacy

No, LIV has not been one for kinship with the governing bodies for much of its existence, but according to a Telegraph report connecting the league with the R&A, that’s is the approach the league has taken in the wake of the OWGR news. According to the report, LIV asked the R&A for 12 exemptions into the next Open Championship, reportedly offering its considerable Saudi war chest as leverage to help the R&A advance its own sustainability and sport-growing initiatives.

It’s not exactly clear what form these negotiations have taken, or if the offer has been as simple as cash-for-exemptions. But it is not hard to see how LIV could employ a similar strategy with both the PGA of America and USGA, both of whom could use the cash infusion to support the sport’s interests. The Opens (British and U.S.) would represent notably fertile ground for LIV’s efforts, considering both championships have made no effort to restrict LIV players from their fields since the advent of the league.

Of course, there’s room to doubt the governing bodies would consider taking the money, especially given their standoffish approach toward LIV and its Saudi financiers over the last two years. And it’s not clear if such an agreement would even be possible under the current field structure of the majors. But there was room to doubt the same of the PGA Tour until June 6, when Jay Monahan announced an earth-shattering framework agreement with LIV’s financiers, the Saudi PIF. The short of that situation is the same as this one: it’s easy to sound high-and-mighty until you’re staring at a very big check.

It is slightly easier to understand the upshot for the upstarts. There’s little doubt that LIV’s future is inextricably tied to its ability to offer major championship eligibility to its players, and an agreement with the governing bodies would allow the league to have that without compromising on the values — smaller fields, shorter tournaments, no qualifying structure — that led to its rejected OWGR application.

The Telegraph places the negotiations in the “early” stages, but the mere announcement of discussions represents a significant development for the league. Irrespective of a possible definitive agreement with the PGA Tour, it seems LIV is open for business with golf’s governing bodies.

There will be no “new majors” for LIV players, but there may be majors after all. As LIV seems to be learning, sometimes it’s best to govern with a carrot, not a stick.

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