Over the past few weeks, there has been a serious threat to the future of the PGA Tour – the Saudi Super League. Conceived by Australian golfing great Greg Norman, the Saudi Super League was intent on throwing money at the world’s best players in an attempt to lure them away from the PGA Tour.
However, there has been a dramatic turn of events, and it seems like the Saudi Super League is destined like the European Super League was for football, to be consigned to the scrapheaps of history.
We look back on this unsavoury episode, and assess what, if any lessons, the PGA Tour need to learn from this.
Saudi Super League breakdown
It seemed a few weeks ago that the Saudi Super League was gathering momentum. However, there was a domino effect, where players kept coming out to voice their disapproval, and its creditability was eroded. Indeed, it was Rory McIlroy, who suggested the Saudi Super League was ‘dead in the water’.
McIlroy didn’t hold back with his views, as he said: “I think with everything that’s transpired in the last few years, I don’t think it’s surprising.
“I was really glad to see DJ and Bryson put out those statements this week. We all want to play against the best players in the world and they’re certainly two of the best players in the world and it’s nice to know that they’re committed to playing here and committed to making this the best tour in the world.”
Anyway, it seems that money isn’t always the motivating factor, even though players on the PGA Tour are paid handsomely.
Phil Mickelson controversy
Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson has been at the centre of this saga, and he has decided to take a break after his despicable comments about the proposed breakaway league. Mickelson, by his own admission, realised the severity of his comments, and it was perhaps the final death knell in the Saudi Super League coffin.
As part of his rant, Mickelson said: “They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong arm tactics because we, the players, had no resource.
“As nice a guy as [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] come across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right.”
“And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I’m not sure I even want [the Saudi golf league] to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing the US to get things done with the [PGA] Tour.”
The six-time Major winner has a lot of thinking to do, and while there may have been widespread disapproval about the Saudi Super League, but his comments were completely unacceptable, even if somewhat out of character, as Mickelson suggested.
Getting the PGA Tour back on track
So, as things stand, the PGA Tour lives to fight another day. There may have been fears that it would subside under the sheer strength and pressure exerted by the Saudi Super League, but the PGA Tour can’t take anything for granted.
It may be a Tour abundant with riches, and it hosts some brilliant events throughout the year, but the Saudi Super League was a warning sign, and it could return to the table with a better offer down the line.
The PGA Tour has to be more open-minded to embracing new ideas in the future, and if the Saudi Super League did re-emerge, then the two organisations have to learn to co-exist. Nevertheless, this is a critical time for the future of golf.
In the meantime, with the Masters not far away, we have been exploring the outright markets, and Jon Rahm is currently the favourite at 8/1 with Paddy Power to slip into the Green Jacket. And if you are happy to throw a bit more caution to the wind, you can get odds of 25/1 with the same bookmaker for the reigning champion Hideki Matsuyama to successfully defend his title.