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Four-time Major winner Els thinks there could be a place for LIV in the golfing calendar, with the South African pointing to the three months after the FedEx Cup Playoffs as a window LIV could fill. This year’s Tour Championship takes place at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta from August 25-28.
“You could play that for three months,” said the 52-year-old. “The whole world will be watching. I mean, my gosh, everybody will watch it. Can you imagine the guys trying to buy teams who have people, principals of teams? It will be like the Formula One. You'll have major people, billionaire people, and they will come in and have fun with the teams and the sport, and the guys can have fun and the world can have fun with this format because it's different. But three months of that, I think that's enough. Then come back to play real golf.”
Els has called for the PGA Tour to end its “tug of war” with LIV Golf and hopes Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan will sit down with LIV CEO Greg Norman to thrash out a compromise for the good of the game.
“It’s crazy at the moment,” said Els. “It’s just a shame how things are being split up. My view - and I discussed this with the Saudi people a long time ago - was always to do things with the major tours. Greg keeps stirring from his side and it seems that Jay has got to defend himself. Some of the players have also been speaking out, and it seems like a tug of war a little bit. It’s really very uncomfortable and surely there has to be some kind of negotiation to come.”
Without a change in format, Els doesn’t think LIV tournaments will ever be considered real golf, though that could provide a boost to the Asian Tour as players are forced to look east to play in tournaments that have ranking points.
“Fifty-four-hole events means the players are going to lose ranking points,” said Els. “They are going to have to play the Asian Tour. I’m sure those events are going to be $5million to $6million in no time. That’s where they are going to have to play to get their ranking points. The rest of the world is playing 72-hole stroke-play events.
"You have a cut after 36 holes and that’s how you get your ranking and make your money. LIV Golf doesn’t do that, so why would you be under the same brush with the rest of the world. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s a different format of golf. You can't have a 48-man tour playing no-cut golf and that type of thing and expect the world to take you seriously. Just because you're playing for $20 million a week doesn't change anything.”
Els expects LIV Golf to have a major impact on the Presidents Cup, the biennial match between the USA and the Rest of the World. So many of the potential Internationals team have signed with LIV - including Abraham Ancer, Louis Oosthuizen, Carlos Ortiz and Shaun Norris - that Els, who captained the Internationals to a narrow defeat in 2019, says Trevor Immelman could end up picking himself for September’s clash at Quail Hollow.
“So many of our players have gone to LIV,” said Els. “It’s going to be tough for Trevor. He might have to be playing captain. Whatever, it’s going to affect the Presidents Cup in a big way.”
There have been rumours that Immelman’s potential star player, Open winner and World No.2 Cameron Smith, could be about to follow suit and join LIV Golf, but Els is urging the Australian to think carefully.
“He is in a great position right now,” said the 2002 and 2012 Open champ. “He’s entering his prime. He’s 28 and he’s got time now to win Majors, and I wouldn’t want to put that under any danger of not happening. I would not at this stage go on any other tour where I might not play in a Major again.
“I would play my golf and put myself in the history books as far as I can go. I would stay exactly where I am. Do what I do. The money is there—it’s already there. Besides, the way Cam is playing, LIV will be there and his value might go up. So I’d stay exactly where I am, in my lane, and try to win more Majors.”
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Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!
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