On the line this weekend for LIV golfers: a Claret pitcher and respectability


ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Good versus evil.

Many books, movies, and songs are written, shot, and composed with the fight between the virtuous, moral, decent, and respectable against the wicked, vile, and immoral.

The theme of good versus evil is evident throughout the Bible, Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth” and all eight “Harry Potter” films, where author JK Rowling drives the point home.

This is perhaps overkill given that the rest of this speech will focus on the distinguished game of golf, which has become a moral and potentially legal quagmire as the insurgent LIV Golf challenges the ecosystem of professional golf.

Dustin Johnson is the highest ranked LIV Golf player in the world and the highest ranked player at the British Open.

War is all about control, money and power in professional gaming. Specifically, it’s the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour vs LIV Golf.

In Friday’s second round of the 150th Open Championship, Dustin Johnson shot a 5-under 67 and with that performance put LIV Golf in the spotlight.

The establishment feared that a LIV golfer could not only wrestle, but possibly win a major championship. Such a victory would give credence to the fact that LIV is not exhibition golf, as Tiger Woods has said, but that his 54-hole shotgun start was in fact good preparation for championship golf. .

“But what are these players doing for guaranteed money, what’s the incentive to practice?” said Woods, criticizing LIV Golf during his Open Championship press conference on Tuesday. “What is the motivation to go out there and win in the mud? You just get paid a lot of money up front and play a few events and play 54 holes. They play loud music and have all these vibes that are different.

Positive attention for LIV at a major championship venue would be unacceptable to the ecosystem, and it would contradict some of the negative feedback from players like Woods and McIlroy.

Johnson is one of the original members to join LIV, and his move from the PGA Tour to LIV was one of the fledgling tour’s biggest prizes.

His Friday performance at the Old Course propelled the two-time major winner to the top of the clubhouse and when the dust settled in round two, in the third-to-last group and four strokes back.

It was a shot across the arc in a war that has already had many battles and many more on the horizon.

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Ahead of Johnson are two of the game’s young stars in Cameron Smith and Cameron Young, players the PGA Tour relies on to replace and solidify its value and bolster fields that have been somewhat impacted by the departure of LIV golfers.

Tied and paired with Johnson, new Masters champion Scottie Scheffler creates a pairing that for many could highlight the theme of good versus evil.

Of course, individually, neither man is necessarily good or bad, but they do represent groups considered good and bad.

For the sake of argument, Scheffler, who represents traditional touring and the current ecosystem, will be characterized by most as the good, and the revolutionary LIV and its players as the bad.

Talor Gooch, another LIV golfer in the rankings, would support him.

“Everybody, it seems, is against us, and that’s okay,” Gooch said after a 3-under 69 that kept him in contention at 7 under. “It kind of brought us together, I think.”

Neither Johnson nor Scheffler will wear boxing gloves or wield weapons. But two organizations that are opposed in their stance on what professional golf should be will be represented by players who face off in the third round of The Open on Saturday.

The victor, if there is one, will have won a small battle in a war that continues to grow in fury as more and more PGA Tour players jump to LIV. More players will almost surely switch to LIV after the Open and again after the FedEx Cup ends in late August.

In a good story, it is never clear until the very end whether good or evil triumphs.

This will also be true after the third round, but one thing is clear: if Johnson, Gooch or any other LIV golfer wins the Claret Jug this week, it will not only be a big story, but will also propel LIV Golf to new heights. . Others may start to wonder if LIV is a rebellion or the new ecosystem itself.

> Tiger Woods isn’t retiring yet, but St. Andrews has revealed his competitive days are over
> Matt Fitzpatrick puts himself in position to chase a rare double at the British Open
> Tiger Woods understood that the ovation of the British Open on Friday could mark the end
> Tiger Woods, Collin Morikawa, Phil Mickelson among notable players to miss
> Collin Morikawa in freefall leaving St. Andrews early after missing the cut at the British Open
> What to watch in Round 3 at St. Andrews: Head hair, Rors roars and other birdies
> LIV Golf against the world? Dustin Johnson doesn’t feel it at St. Andrews

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