Dustin Johnson says his hands “were not really steady” about 3 feet in the Doral for the purposeful final hit of the LIV season of golf in an ongoing search for meaning.

The knockout target was bigger for his team than someone who made over $100 million in 15 years on the PGA Tour, and was on the verge of making an additional $35 million in five months.

“It was a little more than I was looking for,” Johnson said.

How firm were those hands on that 3-foot strike on the rugged 18 green at Chambers Bay that cost him the 2015 US Open?

This is a question for the pessimists of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf team who are not sure what they will do with the new league. That’s because golf has never seen a model like this before with dozens of teams, 48-player fields and a shotgun.

She certainly hasn’t seen this amount of guaranteed money.

LIV Golf has gone from “dead in the water” in February to its 54-hole product launch with a gun start in June to join an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in August to a final event on Sunday decided by Johnson and Cameron Smith, which is the best. two players.

And now he disappears for three months – he is gone, but not silent.

Still to come is the 2023 schedule expected by the end of the month, and more Saudi money being dumped on PGA Tour players in an effort to lure them away to a league where the money is real and the relevance is being determined.

She has time on her side. “We’re not going anywhere” has become LIV Golf’s newest slogan, and it’s far more legitimate than “Golf is a force for good.”

LIV Golf has unlimited money that bought everything but credibility. One measure of success would be how bad it was to lose it when it started again, and even that would be hard to assess because so few people were watching in the first place.

Finding a broadcast partner, even if LIV Golf has to buy time, will be more valuable than any other player they can sign.

“We have to start marketing the product,” Atul Khosla, president and chief operating officer of LIV Golf, told reporters at Doral. “I have to watch TV. You need to get corporate partners. These are milestones we must achieve.”

The plan is for 12 teams, four players, and one reserve. The league will be based on the franchise model, with the captain taking a 25% stake and participating in building the team’s brand.

As important as getting a TV deal is, corporate sponsorship is just as important, and this will require companies’ willingness to accept being linked to a source of league funding from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Another hurdle is golf’s world rankings, which may only be relevant depending on how the majors define their criteria.

If nothing changes, up to 12 players from LIV Golf will be eligible to become masters. At least four more will likely fall into the world’s top 50 by the end of the year, a major category for the Augusta National.

The American Golf Association (US Open) and Royal & Ancient Golf Club (British Open) are not expected to announce qualification criteria until sometime early next year.

Martin Slippers, president of R&A, indicated his hand in an interview with Golf Digest.

“We’re not banning anyone,” Slippers said. “We will not betray 150 years of history and the World Open will not be open. The name says it all. And this is important.”

The big companies suddenly have more power than ever before in golf. The PGA Tour has been suspended for players joining LIV Golf, while the European Tour waits in the courts early next year to decide whether it can similarly penalize those players.

If so, the majors might be the only golf tournaments all year round that bring together the best of every round.

“Maybe the result of what we’ve come to is that we only see the best players together four times a year,” Slimers said. “So we’ll enjoy it four times a year.”

LIV Golf scored 26 players who were in the top 100 at the end of last year. Without reaching ranking points, seven players (including Bryson DeChambeau) dropped out of the top 50, and nine players (including Phil Mickelson) dropped out of the top 100.

If LIV Golf goes with the team concept, should the world rankings matter to them? At this point, it’s just about getting to the majors.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle of all is the stigma that it’s more about entertainment than sports. Players are happier, and there are a lot of reasons for that.

They are getting more money than ever. They only play 54 holes without cutting. Gone is the intense competition that many faced on the official tours. This is what golf was like.

For the majority of fans, that’s what golf is still for.


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