A year ago at the US Open, an entirely new phenomenon in men’s professional golf took the field’s attention. Several players who had turned their backs on the PGA Tour and defected to the rebel LIV golf circuit are now competing for the first time. to former compatriots.
Golfers chose sides in a sport known for its individualism, fueling unfamiliar team-on-team tensions.
Twelve months after the shocking news that the US and European Tours would partner with LIV Golf, the chaos at the 2022 US Open now seems like an almost insignificant distraction. Just ask Matt Fitzpatrick, who won that tournament in Brookline, Massachusetts, his first major tournament win and his first on the PGA Tour.
“Last year I kind of remember thinking only about the tournament, the US Open,” Fitzpatrick said Monday. “Obviously it was easier to mentally focus on it and be in a better situation than this mess that’s been going on this week.
“Everything is confusing.”
When asked to elaborate on what confused him most, Mr. Fitzpatrick couldn’t help but laugh.
“Well, I guess I just don’t know what’s going on,” he replied. “I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on.”
Fitzpatrick refers to the Saudi Public Investment Fund, known as the PIF, whose staggering wealth supports the LIV.
“Are we under contract with PIF or are we not under contract with PIF? Obviously not,” he added.
To prove that disorientation is universal in golf, Cameron Smith, who joined LIV shortly after winning last year’s British Open, followed Fitzpatrick to the Los Angeles Country Club. interview room and effectively admitted to being ignorant of what happened next. chosen profession.
Smith said at least about the blockbuster deal announced last week, as he received a call from Yasir Al Rumayyan, who will oversee the PIF and chair the new company that will combine the tours. It may be evaluated as such.
Smith said his initial reaction to the news was “kind of a joke,” so good that Al-Roimayan called. But Al-Rumayyan told Smith something else, without giving too many details.
“He didn’t go into too much detail,” Smith said. “I think there is still a lot of work to be done and as time goes on we will know more because I think he called some other players. , The call was kind of short and kind.”
Despite the lack of clarity about the future of professional golf, both Fitzpatrick and Smith were queried on two hot topics since the PGA Tour and LIV deals were announced.
For Fitzpatrick, the question was whether he thought players as loyal to the PGA Tour as he was should be compensated for turning down the large sums offered by the LIV.
Initially, Fitzpatrick seemed poised to tackle the issue, but it is perhaps the most grim and dangerous detail that will be worked out in the coming weeks and months. But Fitzpatrick stopped. And he paused. He smiled and then exhaled. His eyes wandered around the room. Finally, with a faint smile, he said, “Yes, I will pass.”
Smith was asked if there was any indication that the LIV Tour would continue beyond this year. he replied: “Honestly, I know as much as you do.
When asked if he would want to return to the PGA Tour if LIV disbanded after this season, he declined to answer as “hypothetical.”
But he added: “In any case, I think I made the right decision. And I know a lot, like everyone else, so it will be interesting to see how the next few months and possibly the year unfold.”
Smith’s demeanor was upbeat, matching the tone of several LIV players who clapped and smiled at practice on Monday.
“It’s not been given too many details, but we’re just embracing the process,” Smith said. “But I think there’s definitely a lot of interested players on both sides as to what the future holds.”
Fitzpatrick looks to the past as well as the future, fondly recalling last year’s US Open.
“It’s been a great week,” he said, hoping to reignite the magic he had discovered.
But then a lot changed in a year. On Monday he had one question left over the other. Is golf next?
Fitzpatrick shook his head.
“To be completely honest, I literally know as much as you do,” he said. “I think everyone got asked about it. I realized it when everyone else did. Yeah, I literally know nothing, to be honest.”