In yet another unbelievable press conference for Saudi Arabia’s LIV Golf League, fans of the sport received a jaw-dropping master class in bullshit-spewing and question-dodging from Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, and Pat Perez, some of the most recent PGA Tour defectors. I mean, now that they have so much free time on their hands (according to them, one of the main reasons they left the PGA for LIV), maybe they should start offering seminars to politicians and celebrities on how to spin human rights abuses into — what was it again? — oh, right, “growing the game.” How could I forget, when we’ve heard that phrase about 8,000 times in the past month?
In yesterday’s press conference, the 46-year-old Perez explicitly and directly answered “no, I don’t have any concerns” about the Saudis’ human rights record when asked. “I’m playing golf,” he elaborated. Of course, the balm that heals all wounds — playing golf.
DeChambeau actually does appear to believe that golf is the balm that heals all wounds, saying in his press conference, “Golf is a force for good, and I think as time goes on, hopefully people will see the good that they are doing and what they are trying to accomplish rather than looking at the bad that’s happened before. I think moving on from that is important, and going and continuing to move forward in a positive light is something that could be a force for good for the future of the game.” Woof.
To posit that golf is so deeply, morally, fundamentally “good” that it can erase “the bad that’s happened before” (that’s one way to put it, Bryson) is ridiculous. First of all, golf is a notoriously exclusive sport, with clubs that to this day ban women and exclude minorities through “unwritten rules,” and one in which very few athletes actually use their platforms to speak out for causes they believe in, compared to, say, NBA or NFL players. It’s a lie they’re telling themselves, that somehow “growing the game of golf” is actually such a net positive on the world that anyone who does it must be doing so for the greater good.
What changed for Koepka since his initial denials? “Just my opinion, man,” per the man himself. (Yeah, I bet your opinion changed real quick when you saw the zeroes on that check.) “But, look, like we said, our only job is to go play golf, and that’s all we’re trying to do,” he continued. “We’re trying to grow the game, do all this other stuff. And we’re trying the best we can.”
Aside from growing the game, another line we’re being fed is in regard to the appeal of the LIV schedule. With 10 tournaments this year and 14 scheduled for next year, Koepka said that it would give him more recovery time between tournaments after suffering multiple injuries in the past few years, and Perez talked about missing the birth of his son for a PGA event. (Sorry, but does he think he’d just be able to up and leave a required LIV event in a similar situation?)
The interesting thing about this is that while there are less tournaments in LIV, they’re all required, while the PGA Tour largely allows golfers to set their own schedule.
“You’re able to actually now set out a schedule, go out and put all you have in every single event,” Reed said. It’s an odd way to put it — you’re no longer able to set a schedule, actually. They set it for you. While the PGA Tour has event minimums and new event requirements, it’s also odd for a professional athlete — or multiple, in this case — in their prime to claim that they actually want to play less of their sport. Also, if they end up playing the majors, the LIV golfers will only end up playing three less weeks per year than it takes to meet the requirements of the PGA Tour.
Reed also averages 30 events per year, whereas his peers like Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm average 24 per year. Koepka averaged 20 per year between 2015 and 2021, and with 14 LIV events and 4 majors going forward, his excuses from yesterday quickly fell through.
Please, please. I’m begging you. Just say it’s the money. Because it is the money. You don’t have to win — hell, you don’t have to play — to earn the millions that LIV is offering. But just admit it.