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Alex Myers, Golf Digest Senior Writer

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June 6, 2023 9:38 pm

Alex Myers, Golf Digest Senior Writer

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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June 6, 2023 9:38 pm

Alex Myers joined Zach to discuss how Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson will be perceived moving forward and why the PGA Tour decided to reverse course in merging with LIV. 

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Alex, I know you've now had several hours for this to process. When you look back at today's announcement, what still stands out to you and kind of how do you process it? Yeah, I mean, I think the thing that stands out to me most is just how much of a bombshell this was not only for golf fans, golf media, but the players themselves.

I mean, it seems like on both sides, but especially the PGA Tour. I mean, you've got guys going to Twitter and expressing, you know, disappointment that they learned about this deal with Liv on Twitter. I mean, it's kind of, you know, Kyle Moricot was tweeting, I mean, big names. You know, we're hearing even hardly anybody knew about this. So I think that's the thing that surprised me most is that this, you know, this really kind of came out of nowhere. And it seemed like there was just a few, a very tight, tight circle of trust that knew about this deal that was going to be announced today. Was Phil Mickelson and Rory McElroy, I guess, in that circle of trust, if you want to steal a meet the Fokker's reference.

You know, exactly. I think Phil was, I feel like Phil has been kind of hinting at it recently, talking about things that he knew that were coming out. He's been very cryptic. You know, I think a lot of people thought maybe he was talking about some of the lawsuit stuff. Maybe he was, but I feel like just in the last couple of weeks, he has really gotten back on Twitter, you know, really gone on the offensive, you know, taking shots at Brandel Chamblee, at Eamon Lynch, you know, some, some other guys as well.

I think he was kind of feeling it and, you know, feeling good about this situation and how he thought he was going to look when this all came out. As for Rory, you know, he stopped really talking about this stuff a few weeks ago. And to me, I just can't imagine that the guy who became the face of the tour, you know, you know, leading the players meetings and everything else for a year straight, answering all the questions, would not have any sort of inkling about this. Now, whether he knew it was going to happen today or maybe some of the details, I almost feel like he stopped talking about it because it was, you know, going in a different direction than maybe not what he wanted, but certainly not what he anticipated.

So I could be wrong on that. He could have been totally blindsided as well, but it's hard to imagine that, you know, your main guy, you wouldn't at least give a little bit of a heads up on something this big. Talking to Alex Meyers right now. And if I'm a golfer on the PGA Tour today, I'm livid because you look at this whole situation. Jay Monahan told you, don't take the money, don't take the money. And you still have a decision to make and it's still your decision, but you trusted Jay, you trusted the PGA Tour. I know probably things all go back to normal probably soon, and we'll get back to focus it on the golf, but when that guy tells you not to take the money and then he hush hush in the middle of the night takes the money, I don't get where he goes from here and Jay Monahan.

I agree 100% and we're getting word, you know, they had this meeting today. I think he zoomed in. I don't even think he was there, but he, you know, he took just a few questions. Apparently Maverick Neely was the main guy peppering him with questions and guys said that Jay had a tough time answering them. He did say, look, I know I'm going to be called a hypocrite.

I said things with the information I had at the time, you know, it is what it is. But, uh, apparently as like you said, a lot of the guys, not surprisingly are livid about the situation. And yeah, I mean, you mentioned the money. I mean, it's crazy, you know, these guys who took the money, you know, they kind of got penalized by not playing the tour. Now they, it seems like they're, they're going to be welcomed back open arms and they have to keep the money or at least part of the money. Again, we don't really know all the ins and outs of some of these contracts, but certainly anyone who got a big contract at least got, you know, a good portion of that. And so you're right. There's certain guys who are thinking, well, what the heck?

I could have just taken that money. Um, yeah, it's, it's definitely a weird situation. Uh, it's gotta be a weird situation even for the little guys too though, because some of those guys, um, you know, we're kind of taken to fill out the roster, so to speak.

Right. I mean, where the, where did some of those young kind of unheard of guys go? Where does some of those old names, but who were kind of washed up go now? Um, do they get to play out their contracts? Do they have to, you know, fight their way back onto tour somehow? Uh, so there's going to be some awkwardness from those guys as well, but certainly the most awkward this is from the guys who, um, you know, are a upset about not getting their share. Um, and also the guys who spoke out against it so vocally and against other players. Now they're kind of mixed back with those same guys.

It's, it's a weird situation. Alex Meyers, like you said, we don't know how much money they got and, and what was already paid on all that stuff, but if you're now working together, how are they going to reportedly find these players to get their PGA tour card back? Do you think those are just things to appease people right now and kind of cool down some of the flames coming from the PGA tour members that stayed just to say that now you'll deal with it on a later date? Like it's not going to be real punishments for these guys that ended up going to live golf are now trying to come on back for, to get their PGA tour card, right?

Yeah. I mean, I know again, we're going to have to see, I mean, I guess it might come down to, we'll see how, how much the players fight this. Um, you know, maybe, maybe they kind of make some sort of demand that there is some kind of payback. Maybe it's, they get some money. Um, because now obviously, you know, these guys are in theory being funded by the same money that the list guys were, um, there's billions of dollars being infused to the tour in theory. Now the tour could, or this new entity that TBD doesn't need to name it in theory, this new entity could pay players a contract like doing play payers, parents fees, which the PGA tour is traditionally not done, or at least not done officially. So maybe there's a way to scratch these guys back to kind of say, okay, we get it. You missed out on the big payday.

Um, now you kind of get it a little more. Um, I definitely think some of the stars, you know, the guys who we know rumored to turn down the contracts than the hundreds of millions of dollars, they're, they're going to be taken care of, I think on some level, but it's, it's the rest of the guys, the Maverick, you know, you know, the majority of the tour who might be left kind of in this middle spot. Um, and, and yeah, again, certainly there's definitely going to be hard feelings, uh, in particular against the money.

Talking to Alex Meyers right now, senior writer from Gulf digest. I remember when we had John for the last, you know, the first two majors of the year, we talked about the intensity and the intention about live golf was not really the same as it was going back to last year, heading into both the masters and also the PGA championship. Now with this stuff onto the scene, and we've seen Brooks Koepka right when the PGA championship and get another watermaker trophy, the guys that ended up going to live golf, like the big names, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, how does today's news really impact the way that people are going to view them? I mean, I don't know how it can be viewed that they don't come out as the winners here. I mean, they, they, just for themselves in terms of enriching themselves, uh, sure. They all took some, you know, hits publicly, but now that the tour is merging with the same people, they took the money from, they've got to say, Hey, wait a minute, you criticize me. You can't, you can't criticize me as much.

Or if you do, you didn't have to criticize everybody else. So not only did they make out well financially, they're going to make out well, PR wise, especially a guy like Phil Mickelson, who kind of spearheaded this whole thing and kind of became the main villain. Now, you know, it's going to be, people are going to be spinning this very positively in Phil's favor that he kind of got the ball rolling on this. He was the big name that got, you know, it was the domino, the fall him and Dustin Johnson, maybe you could argue, um, those guys, you know, who knows 20 years down the road, they could be looked back as almost pioneers or, you know, heroes that they got the ball rolling on this. Now there's a long way to go. We have to see what comes about with this entity. We have to, you know, hopefully it's something that all golf fans will eventually get behind. Um, but, uh, yeah, I think all those big name guys who were kind of the villains last year, man, they came out looking pretty good to them.

How about your view on Greg Norman? I know he was literally left in the dark on this stuff, but Steve sands told me earlier, everything he promised to those live golf guys, they ended up getting an, and then some, so he kind of said he was heroic looking, you know, that's a good point and, and you wonder, you know, he did promise those things and you wonder, you know, the way it came about, I just feel like there's no way he could have foresaw that this is happening like this and especially this abruptly. Uh, but you're right. I mean, those guys, you know, they went through a tough time. Did you know that the resignations from the DP world tour, the fines, the, the bands and all this stuff fighting to get into majors.

Uh, but now they come out looking pretty good. Now, whether Greg Norman comes out on the other side is another story, but either way, he definitely, um, did his job for how the government for, I mean, he, you know, he got the job done. He lured some guys, he got enough of the ball rolling that the tour had to respond in this manner. Um, and, uh, but yeah, the fact that he was, it seems like he was left in the dark about this announcement as well is pretty, it doesn't seem like it's great news for him going forward. And we've already heard in the past tiger said, you know, they, he can, I couldn't imagine them working together. If Greg Norman is still the guy. Um, so we'll have to see if there's a little shakeup with that position or not, but either way, you're right.

He delivered, I don't know if it was him or he got lucky, but he, he did deliver. And again, it just shows you, I mean, money just ends up winning in all these situations. I mean, it's not that lived at anything groundbreaking. It really isn't. I mean, could the team thing work?

Could it be interesting? We'll see, but it's the money, the money beat the tour, the litigation that was going on, it was going to be costly. It was going to go on drag out for years. The tour ended up taking this money. Uh, it helps them out. They overextended themselves perhaps by bumping up their purses this year.

It all comes down to the money and they just were never going to win a money battle with the Saudi Arabia government. And that's the thing. Everyone has the price eventually, no matter if you like how the money gets there, you know, money's going to win out. But did the PGA tour need to do this? That's the, that's the question I have.

That's the question. And, you know, I don't know if they needed to do this, but they certainly made huge jumps in the purses. They also angered a lot of their sponsors. They had, you know, Honda pulled out this year, uh, which some of, you know, how the designated events, it was such a clear two tier system now with these, with these, uh, tournaments that I think a lot of sponsors were getting ticked off at that. Um, you know, Tiger even mentioned at the end of last year that the tour dipped into its reserves. Now they have a big reserve, but dipped into its reserves and it even talked about taking out a loan. So again, I don't think the tour was, you know, going bankrupt anytime soon, but certainly I don't think they wanted to get to any sort of dangerous financial point because then they'd even have a weaker position. So I think before something like that happened, they ended up taking a deal that was probably pretty similar to what was on the table a few years ago when Jay Monahan reportedly said, I don't even going to take a meeting on this.

And now a few years later, he ends up kind of taking the same deal. And, um, yeah, it's, it's going to be really interesting to see how the live concept gets folded into this because there's so many moving parts here. Are you going to break up all the teams, start a new, all this stuff. There's now there's a lot more sponsors that probably would want to get in on the teams, you know, you know, big names that were out on the sidelines that they were hesitant to get in bed with the Saudi government.

But now if it's the tour, you know, you might see a team Nike team, Palloway, that kind of thing. Just a lot going on here. And they've got a lot of work to kind of hammer this out.

It seems like it's coming about really quickly. And as you said, Alex Myers, we have no clue what the specifics are. But if people have no clue what you're talking about in regards to these teams, can you just explain that to them? Yeah. So I mean, obviously, you know, live, they had, I think, 12 teams, and they're big model after these contracts ran out. I mean, they were really hoping that these teams would end up being bought, like, you know, an NFL franchise or an NBA franchise, and they would be bought and owned by certain owners and, and that the players team would have equity, that would be the way that they would really get paid, that they wouldn't be getting these like hundred million dollar contracts anymore, they would, they would get the money from sponsors. And, you know, in the past few weeks, live at a couple sponsors, they started to, to, you know, go in that direction. But certainly no team had been outright bought yet.

But now it opens the door to so many more opportunities for that to happen. You know, you might have different golf manufacturers or apparel companies wanting to get in the game and sponsor more than just a player, but actually a team. And again, they were hesitant to do the deal with with with live. But they, you know, these are partners, longtime partners with the PGA Tour, it could be different that way. So again, we're gonna have to see what happens with the existing teams. But certainly there, you know, the memos were clear today, there is going to be some sort of team aspect going forward. Certainly the piff, the Saudi government wants that they want to monetize that.

And that's kind of their differentiating factor. But how it gets folded into the tour is, again, it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of people trying to figure that out in the next few months. How do you think the golfers are going to handle this that are on the PGA Tour? I know you had the Canadian Open this weekend and you had the meeting today, but then next week, obviously, is a major championship at the U.S. Open.

Yeah, you know, of course, it's crazy. Rory McIlroy has the first press conference tomorrow. Does he show up, you think? I wouldn't if I was him.

I would say I'm not going. Yeah, it depends just how mad he is. Just if he was again, if he was completely in the dark about it, I could see him not showing up. But he has been such a good soldier for the tour.

I feel like he'll try to spin it positively. And again, it could wind up being great for for a lot of the players. I mean, certainly there's a lot of money here. It's just it's a matter of the guys who, you know, really took that moral high ground now that they're they're kind of getting paid by the same people. It's just a it's just a bizarre situation. And, you know, I don't think these guys are going to walk and just give up their careers just to, you know, make some sort of statement. I mean, we'll see.

I can't imagine anybody doing that. But yeah, it's interesting with it being the Canadian tour last year, that was, of course, Rory took the shot at Greg Norman after he won. And now it comes back to this week to have this happen. You know, the U.S. Open will be a totally different ballgame because those guys will all be again there. And then, you know, all the big names are still going to be concentrating on winning a major. But yeah, you're going to hear a lot of ticked off people, I think, in these next few weeks. I mean, we already heard some of that today. Watch.

This will be the year that Phil Mickelson wins the U.S. Open. I mean, he's flying high right now. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, right now. No doubt about it, Mr. High Flyer. He's he's feeling good.

You could tell on Twitter. He's he's taking the shots. You know, I almost don't I really can't blame him. He's taken so much heat himself, whether, you know, he deserved a lot of it. But now for him, it's his chance to fight back. So, you know, it was like he tweeted today. Today is an awesome day or whatever he said for Phil Mickelson and some of those other big live guys. It certainly was today.

Last thing I'll ask you, how do you describe today? I mean, shocking that I seriously wouldn't when I was in the office today and we first saw this the CNBC link report. And I mean, I really thought it was April Fool's.

I checked the calendar. A few other people said, there's no way this is true. I mean, I'm talking about like veteran reporters are like, there's no way this is true.

And then sort of trickle out. No, this this actually is true. I mean, this was just a it's a monumental day in the history of golf. No doubt about it. I mean, it's, you know, we we're going to remember it for a long time, whether it ends up being good or bad. The day that this merger was announced is certainly one that we'll all remember. So I'm just stunned by all that happened today. And, yeah, again, so many questions to be answered still in these next few months. Alex Myers, senior writer from Golf Digest. Alex, appreciate the time as always. You got it, Zach. Take care. Anytime.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-06 22:46:58 / 2023-06-06 22:55:12 / 8

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