Since LIV Golf’s first event at Centurion Club in June, both the PGA and DP World Tours have been clear of their stances, with both handing out bans and fines to those that choose to tee it up in the Saudi-backed series.
However, although the two Tours are against LIV, the Asian Tour is firmly with it. Back in early 2022, both LIV and the Asian Tour entered into a strategic partnership and launched the International Series – a $300 million investment over the next 10 years.
The Asian Tour, though, isn’t the only Tour in Asia, with the Japan Golf Tour now releasing a statement around the Saudi-backed series and the PGA and DP World Tours and, well, it certainly shows the divide within the golf world right now.
WHAT IS LIV GOLF?
First reported by Handicap 54, who has successfully reported a number of LIV Golf signings throughout 2022, the JGTO “needs to create a clear path to the PGA Tour/DP World Tour, so that professional golfers from Japan and Asia have a good range of opportunities, depending on the intention of each golfer.”
The full statement, which has been translated, reads: “Today, I would like to give you an update on the recent development in relation to the confusion resulting from the activities of LIV. First, JGTO’s current position is that it would be beneficial (for tour members and for the tour itself) if we maintained a neutral position on this matter and stayed away from any political conflict.
“Meanwhile, Mr. Greg Norman (of LIV Golf) contacted JGTO and asked us to take the same position as them, regarding the eligibility of Japan Golf Tour members for the ZOZO Championship and to protest the PGA Tour. As I have already told you, the conclusion made by the PGA Tour for this year’s ZOZO Championship was reached after negotiations that took a few months, and we told Mr. Norman that we would not find it appropriate to reopen the negotiations at this time.
“In addition, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour (partner) sent a letter to JGTO, outlining their desire to form a visible alliance with JGTO. We will be discussing the details of their intention going forward, believing that a critical factor in this discussion would be to try to establish a path to the DP World Tour, the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA Tour, based on the results of the Japan Golf Tour.
The Japan Golf Tour has released a statement in regard to the PGA Tour v LIV situation and it may help clear up confusion around the Japanese players who were all missing from the Chicago event. It appears increasingly difficult for tours to stay neutral. Thoughts on this? pic.twitter.com/Tu2p97KHfBOctober 1, 2022
“And there is one thing that we would like to be understood. Knowing how things would unfold in the future, it is not possible to enjoy the benefits of both LIV Golf and the PGA Tour at this time. If we entered into an affiliation or an amicable relationship with LIV, the ability of tour members to play on the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour would be reduced. And if we enter into an alliance with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, there will definitely be a restriction on our members’ participation in the LIV Golf Invitational.
“If one wishes to play on the LIV Golf Invitational instead of the PGA Tour, it might make sense to play primarily on the Asian Tour (LIV International Series). Now that the Asian Tour has entered into a friendly relationship with LIV, we believe that JGTO needs to create a clear path to the PGA Tour/DP World Tour, so that professional golfers from Japan and Asia have a good range of opportunities, depending on the intention of each golfer.”
The letter ends with “I am sure that each of you will have a different opinion on this matter and it would probably be unlikely to find a direction that would suit everyone. However, if you have any comments or remarks that you would like to make to JGTO, please do not hesitate to do so.”
Back at the end of August, it was revealed that all four of LIV Golf’s Japanese players would not feature at the fourth event in Boston, with Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Cameron Tringale, Harold Varner III, Marc Leishman and Anirban Lahiri teeing it up at their expense in the 48 man field.
Although a number of big names jumped ship to LIV Golf, one player who has remained on the PGA Tour is Hideki Matsuyama. However, according to Brian Wacker, at the recent Tiger Woods-led player-only meeting of PGA Tour members, “someone in the room” remarked Matsuyama was “torn between the money and his legacy” on the PGA Tour.
Reportedly, the Japanese star was offered an eye-watering deal in the region of $400 million, such was the impact he would bring regarding TV deals, sponsorships and publicity.