Why a Presidents Cup-style showdown between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf would get fans excited about men’s pro golf again

Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. 

If the powers that be running the PGA Tour and LIV Golf can’t find a way to come together for the betterment of the sport, perhaps they can leverage their single biggest asset – an authentic rivalry fuelled by money, politics and one almighty power struggle. If not for themselves, for the fans.

As talk of a supposed “framework agreement” between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund continues to drag on, disenfranchising casual golf fans by the day, there’s been very little evidence to suggest a ceasefire is within reach. LIV’s sneaky signing of reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm in December was the first red flag. Presidents Cup Internationals team captain Mike Weir confirming that no players on the Saudi-funded circuit will be boarding his team jet to Montreal in September set off more alarm bells. Each move reeked of the disdain both parties have had for one another up until now as we brace for yet another awkward player reunion at Augusta National this month. 

All while these mysterious negotiations have played out, we’ve been drip-fed contrived storylines via Netflix’s “Full Swing 2” doco and some rather nauseating marketing spin from tour broadcasters, all preaching how amazing life is on their respective tours. There was also the latest edition of “The Match” to digest, the dwindling made-for-TV exhibition that pits pros and celebrities together for some mic’d-up antics clearly skewed towards an American audience. Sadly, the global care-factor for a once-promising concept that started with Tiger Woods squaring off with arch-rival Phil Mickelson in 2018, is now nudging sub-zero levels. 

Producers, would you spare us the B-grade flicks, please!

In a world where content is supposedly king, golf’s greatest box-office smash is staring us right in the face, waiting to be unleashed. It’s time to give the people what they really want, what golf really needs: front-row seats to a feud that tops them all – Jay Monahan’s (or Tiger’s?) PGA Tour vs Greg Norman’s (or Yasir’s?) LIV Golf League – mano a mano on the fairways, not in secret boardroom meetings. Here’s a very brief breakdown of how such a match could work:


PGA TOUR: Tiger Woods (c), Rory McIlroy (vc), Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, Ludvig Aberg, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama. *Min Woo Lee *Will Zalatoris

LIV GOLF: Greg Norman (c), Phil Mickelson (vc), Jon Rahm, Cam Smith, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Tyrrell Hatton, Joaquin Niemann, Ian Poulter, Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen. *Talor Gooch *Anthony Kim

[*Indicates team wildcard that can be called upon at any time, not the absence of Talor Gooch in field]

As the Official World Golf Ranking currently excludes LIV golfers, participants would be selected by a chosen panel (made up of fans, media and former players) based on their global appeal and marketability in key regions. The respective captains – in this case, Woods and Norman – would be required to participate in Sunday singles, reigniting their longstanding stoush.

As this is pitched as a potential replacement for the depleted Presidents Cup, adopting its three-day fixture of alternate shot (foursomes) and better-ball (four-balls), followed by Sunday singles, seems a logical approach. Blending in LIV’s trademark music and party-like atmosphere would also add to the overall vibe. The event could be rotated between iconic venues around the world (St Andrews, anyone?), perhaps in golf-starved territories to help reignite the flame, or simply alternate between Ponte Vedra and Jeddah to emphasise a home-ground advantage.

Golf only stands to win from such an exhibition. There isn’t a mainstream sports broadcaster on the planet that wouldn’t blow its budget trying to land the TV rights. There isn’t a golf fan – pro-PGA Tour or pro-LIV – that wouldn’t give a kidney for a three-day pass to watch the drama unfold. There isn’t a player, on either side, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to tee it up in the name of legitimate competition. Golf would be on every back page and TV bulletin around the globe. Importantly, both tours could put an end to all the propaganda and do their bit to truly “grow the game” by donating all funds raised from the showdown to international golf markets in need. 

For my own amusement, I put this hypothetical match-up to LIV Golf chief executive Norman to canvas his thoughts. His reply was swift.

“I think the world would entertain it and embrace it,” he said.

Well, what are we waiting for? 

Do you think a PGA Tour vs LIV Golf showdown would resonate with golf fans? E-mail me your thoughts at [email protected]

Getty images: JOHN D MCHUGH