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HomegolfViktor Hovland quells LIV Golf rumours, rips PGA Tour leadership’s ‘arrogance’

Viktor Hovland quells LIV Golf rumours, rips PGA Tour leadership’s ‘arrogance’

OSLO – Viktor Hovland said he completely understands why Jon Rahm signed with LIV Golf, but the world’s fourth-ranked player does not plan to be the next marquee player to bolt to the Saudi-backed league.

In an appearance on the Fore podcast in Norway, the 26-year-old said that he doubts he would sign for LIV, mostly due to the league’s no-cut format.

However, he acknowledged the enormous sum of money Rahm signed for – reported to be more than US$550 million (S$731 million) including contract and signing bonuses – while taking aim at the “arrogance” of the PGA Tour’s leadership.

“It would be a bit too silly to criticise the players for leaving. After all, you only hear one angle in the media, and there are quite a few different parts happening at the same time here,” Hovland said in Norwegian as translated by Eurosport Norway and reported in Golfweek.

“I totally understand why he left. That’s a lot, a lot of money.”

Hovland’s star status has taken off in 2023, highlighted by winning the FedExCup title in August and the US$18 million bonus that came with it. He also won the Memorial, the second leg of the play-offs at the BMW Championship and tied for second at both the PGA Championship and the DP World Championship.

It has been an immensely rewarding year for the Norwegian on the course, but his earnings would be dwarfed by a potential offer from LIV. But he asserted that the format still does not appeal to him.

“I don’t think their product is that great. I’m not such a fan of, for example, playing without a cut,” Hovland said.

“You need the competition with 150 players and a cut. If you don’t play well enough, you’re out. There is something about it that makes your game a little sharper.

“If I had gone to LIV, I don’t think I would have become a better golfer. And then it is, in a way, end of discussion.”

Hovland has committed to the season-opening The Sentry in Maui, which is a no-cut event, along with the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational.

World No. 3 Rahm had similarly strong objections to LIV’s format before he signed with the league. He has been suspended from the PGA Tour, preventing the Spaniard from playing in The Sentry ahead of LIV’s first event of 2024.

Could Hovland take a similar path as Rahm in the near future?

“No, I doubt that,” he said.

Hovland was also the latest to provide a blunt criticism of the PGA Tour’s decision-makers.

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There is a Dec 31 deadline for the tour to finalise a deal with Saudi’s Public Investment Fund. The framework agreement that also includes Europe’s DP World Tour was announced in June, to the surprise of the tour’s membership who was not involved in the closed-door discussions.

The secrecy of those talks generated significant anger from many players.

“The management has not done a good job. They almost see the players as labour, and not as part of the members. After all, we are the PGA Tour. Without the players, there is nothing,” he said.

“When you then get to see what happens behind closed doors, how the management actually makes decisions, which are not in the players’ best interest, but best for themselves and what they think is best.

“They are not professional golfers after all. They are businessmen who say that, ‘No, it should look like this and that’. There is a great deal of arrogance behind it all.”

Tiger Woods has since joined the policy board and is heavily involved in the ongoing discussions as the tour seeks investment for a new for-profit entity, PGA Tour Enterprises.

ESPN reported that more than US$3 billion would also be injected by Strategic Sports Group into the new entity. REUTERS

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