Lack Of LIV Golfers At TPC Sawgrass Shows That Men's Golf No Longer Has A 'Fifth Major'
The PGA Tour's flagship event reminded me that the Majors still stand far and above the rest - especially in this new PGA Tour vs LIV world
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The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass was the first time that the PGA Tour seemed to be lacking its LIV Golfers.
The event previously regarded as the 'unofficial fifth Major' of the men's game can no longer boast that tag following the breakaway Saudi-backed circuit picking up some of the Tour's biggest names.
The PGA Tour has done very well to counteract the rebel tour and keep the rest of its stars on-side, but with some big LIV Golf names missing, including the defending champion, as well as Rory McIlroy missing the cut, Jon Rahm pulling out with illness and a back nine procession from Scottie Scheffler, the Players Championship felt like just another 'designated' PGA Tour event.
The Players used to stand out from the crowd by a long way on the PGA Tour schedule, but a series of designated events featuring all of the Tour's top talent means that it doesn't really boast much of a better field than we'll be seeing all year long.
It still stands out ahead of every other PGA Tour event in two ways - the iconic course that we've all grown to know and love, and the huge $25m prize fund that saw Scheffler pick up $4.5m for his superb win.
But without the LIV guys - Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Joaquin Niemann, Abraham Ancer et al - it simply cannot match up to the fields, and storylines, that the four Majors can now boast over it.
Would I be writing something different if it was McIlroy vs Scheffler coming down the stretch? Or perhaps Spieth and Rahm going toe-to-toe? Perhaps.
The PGA Tour seems to be over-reliant on about six or seven names right now. If Scheffler, Rahm, McIlroy, Thomas, Spieth or Homa aren't up there in a close, entertaining finish, or if Tiger Woods isn't in the field, the 'product' might not be quite what it was pre-LIV.
While the PGA Tour has been impacted by the loss of many star names, the Majors have been significantly strengthened. Want to watch McIlroy vs DJ? Or Bryson vs Rahm? Koepka vs Scheffler? Smith vs Spieth? There will only be four times a year that these dream scenarios could be possible.
Like it or not, but, as well as the players' bank balances, the Majors have come out as the real winners from the emergence of LIV. Next month's Masters is the most anticipated Major I can remember.
To be truly classed as a Major, you need every single one of the world's best to be competing. And right now, as TPC Sawgrass showed, the PGA Tour doesn't quite have that anymore.
The PGA Tour is still golf's number one tour. The Players is still an incredible event and Scheffler is definitely worthy of the World No.1 tag. TPC Sawgrass is one of professional golf's best tests and most fun watches on TV.
It was just missing something this year, and that's why we shouldn't look at it the same way we look at The Masters, PGA Championship, US Open and The Open.
Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-6. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Titleist TSR4
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max
Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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