Waugh says no 'us versus them' battle but LIV not sustainable
PGA of America chief executive officer Seth Waugh vowed civility and hospitality for PGA Tour and LIV Golf players, then bashed the Saudi-backed series as unsustainable Tuesday at the PGA Championship.
Two days before 156 of the world's top golfers tee off at Oak Hill, Waugh stressed equal warm welcomes for all but defended comments he made last week ripping the breakaway series, saying its stars had disappeared after leaving the PGA Tour for LIV's record-setting purses.
"When asked about what do you think about the viability of it, I'm going to be honest," Waugh said Tuesday. "I'm not sure it's a superior product and I'm not sure it's a sustainable business model.
"I struggle, and I have even before the beginning, with understanding how it's a sustainable business model.
LIV began last June after luring away some big names from the US and European tours, setting off a civil war in the sport. The US PGA Tour banned LIV players. A PGA-LIV court fight is set for trial in a year.
In the meantime, major tournaments have kept their entry rules and allowed LIV players, making them the showdowns for bragging rights among PGA and LIV talent.
LIV players took three of the top six spots at last month's Masters, where there was a cease fire of hard feelings.
"I'm proud of Masters because they returned civility to the game," Waugh said. "That's how they dealt with it. That's how we want to deal with it.
"Everybody who's here this week is our invited guest and we're happy to have them and we're going to treat them all the same."
There are 17 LIV players in the field of 156 but such spots could dry up because LIV gets no world ranking points while Waugh, on the Official World Golf Rankings board, says dialogue remains ongoing with LIV about that issue.
"This is not an us versus them," Waugh said. "There has been healthy back and forth. It has not been acrimonious.
"We've been very responsive to them in terms of their requests and they've been responsive to us. It isn't some battle."
Getting those points so LIV stars can get future exposure at majors could, however, play a key role in determining the sustainability of the upstart circuit.
"Our job is to measure tours, not players but tours and how they perform on those tours," Waugh said of the rankings board.
As for the PGA of America, Waugh said he was pleased with the field and the way special invitees were chosen, some from LIV.
"Being a neutral body is always acting in the best interest of the game and that's what we'll always do and that's what I'll always do," said Waugh, who also stated, "We don't think division is in the best interest of the game."
Waugh said there is more interest in golf as a result of the "disruption" and that players are "better off in a lot of ways" from changes made by LIV's arrival.
- LIV 'could pay off' -
When it comes to sorting out golf's future with LIV, top-ranked Masters champion Jon Rahm had no clue.
"If you talk to a LIV player, this is going to be great, it's only going to get better," Rahm said. "You talk to people on the other side, in two years they're going to be done. I really have no clue.
"They're trying their hardest to be a little bit different and it could pay off. Or not. I really don't know."
Rahm stressed he hasn't had negative feelings to players who left for LIV, having practiced with LIV's Talor Gooch on Monday.
"To me, it's like nothing changed," he said.