ROCHESTER, N.Y. — PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said he doesn’t believe the LIV Golf League is a lasting business model but commended the startup circuit on Tuesday for bringing disruption to professional men’s golf.
“We don’t think division is in the best interest of the game,” Waugh said during a news conference ahead of the 105th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club. “As a former businessman who looks at things, I think disruption is a good thing. I think good things have happened from that. Certainly, the players are better off in a lot of ways from what it was.”
Last week, Waugh told The Times of London that the Public Investment Fund, which has dumped more than $2 billion into the circuit being fronted by two-time Open winner Greg Norman, won’t continue spending money without a return.
“Their logic about the team play being something significant that people can get behind I think is flawed,” Waugh told The Times. “I don’t think people really care about it. And I don’t see how it’s a survivable business model. They can fund it for as long as they want to, but no matter how much money you have, at some point, burning it doesn’t feel very good.”
For now, the elite men’s golfers in the world will play only against each other in the four major championships. There are 17 LIV Golf League players in the PGA Championship field, including past champions Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson.
In 2021, Mickelson became the oldest man to win a major championship when he claimed the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. He skipped last year’s tournament at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after his controversial comments about LIV Golf and the Saudi Arabian monarchy were published by author Alan Shipnuck.
“I am proud of Masters because they returned civility to the game,” Waugh said. “That’s how they dealt with it. That’s how we want to deal with it. Again, everybody is our invited guest. That’s consistent, and I’ll say that today, and I’ll greet the players when I see them for sure. They’re all invited to our dinner [Monday night], past champions. We’re treating them in the way that we would treat everybody else.”
Waugh is also a member of the Official World Golf Ranking’s governing board, which is considering the LIV Golf League’s application for recognition. Players haven’t received world-ranking points for their finishes in LIV Golf events during the league’s first two seasons, causing most to plummet in the rankings.
LIV Golf officials submitted the application in July. The governing board also includes PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley and Keith Waters, who represents the International Federation of PGA Tours. They recused themselves from discussions about LIV Golf last year.
“What I’ve said and what I’ll say now is there has been healthy back and forth,” Waugh said. “It has not been acrimonious. There’s been collegial back and forth of them making an application as other tours have done. We’ve responded, they’ve responded. The ball, from my understanding, is in their court from our last response at this point.
“This is not an us versus them. I think the OWGR, if you take a step back, the whole point is to create a level playing field, a yardstick by which to measure the game. Our job is to measure tours. Not players but tours and how they perform on those tours to come up with that yardstick. That’s what we’re all attempting to try to do. We’ve been, I think, very responsive to them in terms of their requests, and they’ve been responsive to us. It isn’t some battle.”