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While the elite game is poised to enter uncharted territory following the merger agreed between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund behind LIV Golf, Sir Nick Faldo is not convinced the newer circuit will be part of the long-term future.
The six-time Major winner is in England this week as host of the DP World Tour’s Betfred British Masters at The Belfry, where he explained that, in his opinion, the team aspect of the LIV Golf League is fundamentally flawed.
LIV Golf’s regular tournaments combine an individual event with a team competition, and there has been greater emphasis placed on the latter in its second season. That’s because officials see the building of team franchises to attract sponsorships as pivotal to LIV Golf’s ability to become profitable over the longer term.
However, Faldo thinks it’s a non-starter because, aside from the season-ending Team Championship, tournaments follow a strokeplay format. He said: "Nobody's really interested. They're not going to get the sponsorship that they want. They call it a team [event] and it's not because it's strokeplay.
“You see your mates on the putting green and say 'play well' and you see them in the scorers tent and say 'What did you shoot?' That's it. A team is out there helping, shoulder to shoulder. That's a true team.”
Faldo contrasted the often more subdued atmospheres in LIV Golf with the most renowned team event in the game, the Ryder Cup. He continued: "You have the ultimate team event, the Ryder Cup, you know the passion and the atmosphere of that. They're not playing with the same passion and atmosphere as the Ryder Cup.”
Faldo also had criticism of the strength of the fields, saying: "It's only half a dozen [players] that are really current, half of the field I don't really know and half the field are there for the very nice last-placed money that you still get if you shoot 20 over."
As well as LIV Golf there is also confusion over the direction of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. However, Faldo believes that ultimately, the game will emerge stronger. He said: “I think when the dust settles, whether it takes six months, a year, whatever, my goodness, pro golf is in an overall better position financially than we were back in the day.”
One thing we do know is there will be investment into the game from the cash-rich PIF, and Faldo admitted he’d like to see some of that spent on the game in areas of the world that have been neglected in recent years.
He said: “Australia has struggled. I used to love playing in those places. I was one of the few guys who really did generally play a world tour back in the day. Seve played, Greg did. We went everywhere, all four corners of the world.
“Those tours really missed out. I would love to see everyone given a chance to play and to be seen in those countries. With the guarantor, whatever you want to call it, pro golf is in a pretty darned good place.”
'I Wouldn't Be Surprised If He's Seriously Inspired At Hoylake'
Before the deal, one player who had regularly been in the firing line defending PGA Tour amid the LIV Golf threat was Rory McIlroy, but Faldo thinks without that responsibility, he will flourish, including at next month’s Open at Royal Liverpool.
He explained: “I'm pretty sure Rory's suffered from being constantly asked, being a spokesman. You want a clear head when you go and play golf, you want to be able to concentrate. I'd rather be playing well and fending off questions about why I finished second than why I finished 152nd. If you finish second it's stewards' inquiry and a dissection but he's there, he's playing that well every week.
“I wouldn't be surprised if he's seriously inspired at Hoylake. That's where he won last time. There is scar tissue from nine years and not too many players have come back from a long gap and then go on to reboot your career and win more, but I'm sure he would just love to be able to bowl up, go and practice and play with minimal off-course work and interference.
“He's playing beautifully, so, if he can just get those wedges a smidgen closer, that changes everything. Putting under pressure to putting for birdie is a huge difference.”
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Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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