So now that the news has come out that LIV Golf made Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS) guaranteed offer of $700-$800 million to join its tour – though it was rumoured long before Greg Norman recently confirmed it – this to me is like the big one that go away.
Or in this case, failing to bag the lion, er, Tiger.
LIV Golf is nothing without Tiger, the biggest name in golf and one of the biggest names in all of sports.
Actually, it goes beyond that.
When you are known globally by one name, you’ve reached a certain status.
So this is a big miss for LIV.
Without Tiger, you lack the marquee star, which means no TV contract, no fan base tuning in to see him, no sponsors of any significance that want to align with the product.
All the money in the world can’t change that, nor LIV’s limited schedule, its 54-hole format instead of the traditional 72-hole format, and the guarantee that every player who starts get a cheque.
It’s almost as if LIV dreamed up the schedule with Tiger in mind.
In theory it was a great plan, but it lacked the execution.
Woods is already at the point where he doesn’t even have to play much and can still make huge sums of money off of endorsements. Golf has a value for winning, but the big prize money is in sponsorships.
LIV players who win tournaments won’t necessarily be rewarded with sponsorship opportunities. Then again, it doesn’t matter when the prize money is outrageously high.
So LIV can sell its product, but it can’t do it with the one name that matters the most.
LIV has put $200 million chips on Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Soft X), who has used up all the goodwill currency from his success on the PGA Tour, in particular his historic win in the 2021 PGA Championship, becoming the oldest player to win a major.
The victories and accomplishments he has on his resume will never been erased, but there will always be a stain beside his name.
Maybe Mickelson rationalized it by figuring his best competitive days on the PGA Tour were behind him. Why play in events in which you have to make the cut to receive money instead of playing in LIV’s format and make gobs of cash?
You see, Mickelson became the de facto star LIV attracted because it couldn’t get Tiger.
Mickelson has lost his big sponsors – Amstel, KPMG, Workday and Callaway has put its relationship on hold – and has become somewhat of a pariah.
He’s received nothing but bad press in the media and social media. That has to hurt, I don’t care how thick-skinned you are. And when he was about to tee off in a LIV Golf tournament in the U.S. and someone in the crowd made a crude comment, well, it was an audio example of what other people are saying but this was close and loud enough to be heard and seen on video.
Mickelson is a person who is used to adulation and enjoyed being a crowd favorite and crowd pleaser.
He can still have all of that, but only among a small group of people who care about LIV.
There’s a new book out on Mickelson and the reviews are mixed. Some readers like it a lot and have given it a five-star rating, but others has given it only one or two saying there isn’t anything new, that’s it’s all regurgitated from interviews he’s given. That includes the interview in which he slagged the Saudis for their politics, but subsequently said the remark was made off the record. Sometimes bad publicity helps sell, but in this case I don’t think so.
Mickelson is among 11 LIV players suing the PGA Tour for anti-trust. They all want to be allowed to play in PGA Tour events, despite turning their collective backs. In essence they want all the financial trappings of LIV, but still be associated with the PGA Tour, in particular the FedEx Cup playoffs.
It was interesting that Henrik Stenson (Titleist Pro V1x) is not one of the plaintiffs. He joined LIV Golf, won his first tournament in his first start and collected the $4 million first-place prize. It was his first win in the last two years.
In joining LIV, he was stripped of his European Ryder Cup captaincy. I’m sure in making his decision to defect from the PGA Tour, he probably spent little time thinking about that. Frankly, being the captain of these types of tournaments is overrated. The competitors either play to their ability or they don’t, and I don’t think the choices by the captains mean anything at all.
As I’ve stated before, LIV Golf is about one thing – money – but when all is said and done, how much does legacy factor into all of this? Woods has had enough drama off the course and I don’t think he wanted to add to it, no matter how much money was thrown at him.
Money doesn’t always buy anything or, in this case, anyone.