Texas PGA Tour Players Blast Sudden, Shocking Merger With LIV Golf
Longtime North Texas PGA Tour pro Ryan Palmer was finishing up a relaxing family vacation to Costa Rica recently when he woke up to his cell phone ringing enough times to make him think either the country was under attack or someone in his family was in serious trouble.
All the calls had the same question, what did Palmer, a longtime PGA Tour loyalist, think of the shocking PGA/LIV Golf merger after two years of fighting, legal maneuvering and casting asper-sions on each other? “I had four immediate thoughts,” Palmer said, three of them printable and one not so much. “I felt sadness, disappointment, anger and who gives a ...............”San Antonio’s Jimmy Walker was at home in the Alamo City when he got the news, but had no less a strong reaction. “I don’t think they (PGA Tour) could have handled it any worse. The merger with LIV golf was just horrible. ”While in his Dallas home recovering from back surgery, which will likely keep him out of action the rest of the year, Will Zalatoris had a similar reaction when he heard the news from social media. “It’s frustrating because the Tour told us to stay loyal and not make a move, and now we’re told we’re merging with who we were told not to merge with.”
He confirmed the reports that he was offered $75 million from LIV golf, but said that was spread over six years and decided not to take it. Palmer said he was also offered millions (what he called “Pat Perez money”) to go to LIV, but firmly chose to remain on the PGA Tour, rejecting the presented opportunity as did Tom Hoge. “I heard the commissioner say that those who stayed and remained loyal would be rewarded. My question is, who is ‘they’? I think I’m part of ‘they’. They told me to stay loyal, now how do you reward those players?” Only Texas golf legend Lee Trevino preached patience from his home in Dallas. “People may not remember Jack (Nicklaus) and I led a revolt against the PGA of America in the 1960s to form the PGA Tour we know today. That turned out pretty good. Let’s just see what happens with this.”’ While Trevino took a wait-and-see attitude, Walker and others were hurt to discover the PGA Tour’s sudden shift in direction through social media, rather than being informed directly.
“I think I’m disappointed more than anything else,” said Walker, who has six PGA Tour wins including a PGA Championship victory. “We’re supposed to be a player led tour, that’s what they tell us all the time, but then they do this.” I mean, you didn’t tell Tiger or Rory in advance,” said Palmer, “but why not let me know. I’ve been out here for 20 something years. In the long run it’s probably better for the game of golf for everybody to be together. Maybe I can play in some LIV tournaments, in off weeks, but the way they did it was terrible.” Palmer said golf’s new world order could affect Texas PGA Tour players in other ways. While LIV golfers could now play in regular PGA Tour events when they are given permission, golfers like Palmer, Walker and others could go the other direction. “If I’m off a week and there is a LIV golf tournament nearby that week, I’d be pretty foolish not to try and go and play.” Although Zalatoris made the best decision for himself, it’s natural for him to feel a sense of disappointment and frustration with the outcome.“My whole life I wanted to be a PGA Tour golfer, this is just not the way I thought it would turn out.”