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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

How to make peace in the Gulf: a circumnavigation of the world and a severed head

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The Gulf War burns in the offices. As the best players in the world compete at the US Open, the US circuit, European circuit and Saudi league study their moves on the board. The starting positions are defined: LIV Golf has started a series of eight tournaments that will pay out a mountain of gold with 255 million dollars; the PGA Tour has banned the Rebels who switched sides from its competitions; and the European circle, an American ally, has not opened its mouth. Not even the Big Four, which are organized by four different organizations and which, for the time being, do not prohibit dissidents from participating.

The separation is complete. The Saudi league has attracted some stars (Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson…) and the drummers announce signings for next week, some from the nobility. It was an announced birth, but from across the ditches they didn’t expect the creature to make so much noise. LIV Golf has surprised with the great economic power it has shown: four million per tournament for the winner when the juiciest big is that very US Open at 3.15 (the pocket has increased compared to the 2.2 million which Rahm entered on the previous course). .

There is confusion among golfers about the present and the future. Most refuse to position themselves: they belong to an American circle that has made them millionaires, but they do not want to shut the doors on a Saudi league that would retire their grandchildren. Only Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have openly spoken out in favor of the PGA Tour. Meanwhile, the Ryder is forbidden fruit for the rebellious Americans and a danger for the Europeans.

In this scenario, a rift can be opened: the creation of a grand world cycle that leverages the structure and experience of the two greatest commodities and incorporates the flow of Saudi money. The idea is on the table, but ending the war would have its casualties. The oldest would be Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour since 2017, the man who signed off the breakaways to the Super League and is fighting face-to-face with Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf. With Monahan at the helm, a deal between the two sides seems a long way off. A new interlocutor would make it possible to start the negotiations all over again. For that, on the one hand, the head would have to roll, and that the circuit would turn a blind eye to the allegations of human rights violations that get to the bottom of this story. A complex movement.

“There are players who have chosen to break the rules of our circuit and have signed lucrative multi-year deals. My job is to protect and defend our loyal PGA Tour members, our partners and our fans. And that’s exactly what I did. Why is this group spending so much money, billions of dollars, recruiting players on a no-return policy?” Monahan recently commented.

The third stage is the European circuit, the weaker brother. Also among the players on trial is the figure of the President, Keith Pelley, over whom the decision to have rejected LIV Golf’s offer to join its structure (instead of taking refuge in the Asian circuit) and the doubts whether he has given weighs voice to the staff so the golfers have an echo in this mess. It’s another of the bosses that can fall.

The next date of the Saudi league will be held in Portland from June 30th to July 2nd, coinciding with a tournament of the trip American, the John Deere Classic. By then he may have lowered a guillotine.

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