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“Why try to fix something that isn’t broken?” is Colin Montgomerie’s message in its simplest form amid the ongoing threat of the Saudi-backed Super Golf League.
The Scotsman is back in DP World Tour action this week as he tees it up at the Dubai Desert Classic, an event he won back in 1996. They were simpler times for golf. Now, more than 25 years on, ‘Monty’ admits the game as he knew it in his heyday has been corrupted.
"It's a shame it's come to this,” Montgomerie told BBC Sport. “We used to work well with the Asian Tour and now we are at loggerheads because of money. It's a problematic issue. It's that horrible, evil word, money. The mighty dollar ruling people's hearts and minds.
“We never played the game for money on the European Tour when I first started out. I was trying to see how much better I could get as a golfer. Now it's all about that evil word, money. Let's hope the European Tour is closer to the PGA Tour than we've ever been before and we can fight it off."
The “it” Montgomerie is referring to is, of course, the Super Golf League, which is sure to become an even greater talking point at next week’s Saudi International. Dropped from the DP World Tour schedule, it is now the headline event of the Asian Tour, which has been bolstered by a $200million cash injection from LIV Golf Investments (LGI), a start-up company that recently announced Greg Norman as its CEO.
As LGI’s figurehead, Norman’s main objective is to convince some of golf's biggest stars to join the new team-based circuit. It’s a job that’s already underway, with Tony Finau revealing that he, along with "most top guys", has already been approached.
And 58-year-old Montgomerie expects efforts to ramp up next week when the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson all touch down in King Abdullah Economic City to take on the challenge of Royal Greens Golf and Country Club from February 3-6.
"You can guarantee Greg Norman is going to be there and the Saudi hierarchy is going to be there, trying to get as many top players as possible," Monty added. "There are some big names from the US coming over to participate and be courted into this system and let's hope, putting my old man's hat on, let's hope we fight it off.
"We've had a couple of these ideas before, other leagues trying to damage the game which was never broken. The PGA and European Tours are not broken, they are in good health. So why try to fix something that isn't broken?"
Backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, appearance fees for the Super Golf League are rumoured to be in the region of $50m. That means, despite being dead against the idea, Montogomerie does understand the predicament facing players.
"As self-employed individuals, can you blame them? But they've got to remember where they started and give some of that back. The ruling bodies of the European and American tours have said if you go the Saudi way then forget about the Ryder Cup, forget being captain and playing.
"It's going to be an interesting few months ahead."
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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