Thomas Bjorn has described the ongoing battle at the top of the men's game as "very sad to watch" and admitted he wouldn't be surprised if the saga brought a premature end to the Ryder Cup careers of those associated with LIV Golf.
In particular, the Dane despairs that players, who should be pulling in the same direction for the betterment of the game, now appear to be at odds, not necessarily with each other, but with their respected viewpoints on golf's future, which hangs precariously in the balance.
Video: What is LIV Golf?
Bjorn, speaking to OLBG, said: "The players are getting played out against each other which, for me, is something that I find really sad. But that's where we are and we have to work through it.
"Yes, it [LIV Golf] will land somewhere and it will calm down, but the disruption at the moment I think the game of golf could have done without. It certainly detracts from the important things, which is the majors, which is our top events on both sides of the Atlantic, and it detracts from what the Ryder Cup is and certainly the Presidents Cup is going to suffer this year."
After months of controversy and political posturing, the $255 million LIV Golf Invitational Series finally launched last month at the Centurion Club. Fronted by Greg Norman, the breakaway circuit has caused a stir amid accusations it is being used to "sportwash" Saudi Arabia's human rights record.
However, that hasn't deterred a cohort of big names from accepting mega money offers and commiting to multi-year contracts. But money aside, Bjorn's main gripe is with LIV's invitational status, reiterating the point made by both Tiger Woods and R&A chief Martin Slumbers that it betrays the merit-based structure that has long existed at all levels of golf.
"To the top of the game, there's got to be a pathway. If you’re a kid that stands on a driving range and you've got talent, you’ve got to understand your pathway to the top. You shouldn't be picked by somebody because somebody thinks that you bring value.
"That structure has always been there in Europe through the mini tours, the Challenge Tour or Q-School, and it's been the same on a PGA Tour. I look at LIV with 48 guys who just get picked. Why? Why are you picking one guy over the other?
"I don't think the game was broken. I totally agree that both tours on either side of the Atlantic could do a better job but it's a constant job, especially on the back of the last two or three years with Covid - it’s been really difficult.
"And now we're in a world of, we've never seen disruption like it and as much noise in our game."
Players featuring in the LIV Golf Invitational Series have already been sanctioned by both the PGA and DP World Tours and face the prospect of further punishment. While they haven't yet been banned from competing in any of the game's four Majors, they are no longer welcome on the PGA Tour and face a nervous wait to find out whether they will be allowed to feature in future editions of the Ryder Cup.
Whatever the outcome, Bjorn hopes cooler heads will prevail, but admitted it may be difficult for players on either side of golf's civil war to function together in the famous biennial team contest.
"I believe you sit back at the moment and see where we are in a couple of months’ time and try and make some decisions from there," the former Ryder Cup captain added. "I go back to the point that players seem to be being played out against each other and obviously if we continue down that road, it's going to be difficult for these players to be in that team together. And that then becomes a problem.
"We need to find a solution. Should they play in the Ryder Cup or shouldn’t they? In the end, LIV Golf is to the detriment of the tours’ business, there's no doubt about that. They are trying to take business away from the tours.
"From the European point of view, the Ryder Cup is a massive part of our business. If you are involved in a project that does hurt that, should you then have your cake and eat it? I think that's the feeling of 80 per cent of the members of the tour is that you just can't have everything.
"The players, from speaking to them, feel like, ‘Well, you know what, good for you, you won the lottery, go and play LIV, enjoy it, good luck, and have fun with it. But you just can't have both. Leave us alone to do what we do here and play on our tour'."
Such an outcome would bring a sad end to the Ryder Cup careers of Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, three stalwarts of the last 25 years who have a combined 28 appearances and 68.5 points for the Blue and Gold.
The trio would have been shoo-ins for captaincy this time a few months ago, but now face exile, a dishonourable discharge that Bjorn can hardly bear thinking about.
"I can't even go down that road. You know, those three names for me, in the time after Monty, have been the ones that held everything together. They are the Ryder Cup.
"But I will say I agree with Keith in a lot of things as well that any decision you make in life comes with a consequence. And they were told that it could have this consequence. It wasn't like they didn't know.
"We shouldn't be in this situation where that's a thing, we definitely shouldn't. And the game shouldn't be in that situation when you consider that that's a possibility for them not to be able to captain the Ryder Cup.
"But that's where we are and if they can't, they can't, and there'll be other people that can who have their own great records. Being captain in the Ryder Cup is definitely not something that you have a right to, it's a privilege."
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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 Stealth 2 Plus (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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