Richard Bland has voiced his concerns over the rumoured Saudi Golf League, stating that younger players tempted by big-money offers could struggle to find a route back to the DP World Tour and PGA Tour if it doesn’t succeed. Rumours are rife that a breakaway league is likely, with suggestions that players are being tempted with a share of a $1.5 billion pot. Speaking on the Sky Sports Golf podcast, the 49-year-old acknowledged it’s difficult to say no to lucrative deals, but that money shouldn’t be the only consideration.
“It’s a difficult one, because the money being thrown around is tough to turn down for these players. The people signing are the older players and the ones maybe coming towards their autumn of their careers. They’re thinking about a huge payout and who wouldn’t, probably? What does DJ [Dustin Johnson] do in four or five years if he wants to go back and play in America - are they going to welcome him back with open arms? It’s a tough one and a real spanner in the works for the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour.”
“If they [SGL] turn around in five years and said this isn’t what we wanted, we’re not getting the returns or whatever they hope to make out of it, where does that leave players if the PGA Tour and DP World Tour say ‘you’re not coming back to us’? If you’re in your early 30s, someone like a Tyrrell Hatton, is this going to be around for the next 20 years? We don’t know. I think for the younger players it’s a big gamble."
The potential harm any league could do to younger players’ future prospects isn’t Bland’s only concern, either. He thinks the reported league could lack the star appeal necessary for it to succeed – and in his opinion, only one man fits the bill: “Personally, I think it needs Rory McIlroy. Whether you’ve got a Jon Rahm, you’ve got a Collin Morikawa, you’ve got a Justin Thomas or you’ve got a DJ signed up, McIlroy is still the No1 draw in golf.”
Despite his misgivings, Bland is in no doubt that the reported league will eventually come to pass, stating: “There’s a lot of rumours, but it’s going to happen. For how long, I don’t know, but it’s going to happen.”
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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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