What world’s top players said about proposed Saudi League this week at Riviera

What world’s top players said about proposed Saudi League this week at Riviera
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In the aftermath of one of the PGA Tour’s biggest events, the proposed Saudi Golf League is seemingly on life support.

One by one, many of the Tour’s biggest stars, from world No. 1 Jon Rahm to Rory McIlroy, stepped up to the microphone over the past few days at the Genesis Invitational and pledged their allegiances to the PGA Tour over the rival concept. Even tournament host Tiger Woods, who hasn’t competed on Tour since the 2020 Masters, backed the Tour.

Before the week was over, nearly every top-10 player in the world, in some shape or form, had made his plans clear – and unanimously, that support was behind the Tour. Patrick Cantlay had already called himself “a curious observer” a couple of weeks ago at Pebble Beach, while Scottie Scheffler and Hideki Matsuyama haven’t been quoted about the topic. Xander Schauffele, who played the Asian Tour event in Saudi Arabia opposite Pebble Beach, is the only player who hasn’t necessarily squashed the idea of jumping to another league.

Jordan Spieth, Joaquin Niemann, Will Zalatoris and Max Homa were among the other pro-Tour quotes this week at Riviera Country Club while Bryson DeChambeau, long rumored to be joining the Saudi league, released a statement Sunday in favor of the PGA Tour – as long as everyone else was. DeChambeau’s message came just hours after Dustin Johnson, a past winner of the Saudi International, sent out a similar statement through the Tour. Adam Scott was the only notable name at Genesis to appear open to the Saudi idea.

Top 20 golfers in the world committed to the PGA Tour

Top 20 golfers in the world committed to the PGA Tour

Spieth told Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard that all top-20 players in the world had committed to the Tour.

“Who’s left? Who’s left to go? I mean, there’s no one,” McIlroy said Sunday. “It’s dead in the water, in my opinion. Yeah, I just can’t see any reason why anyone would go.”

Here is a refresher on what players said related to the proposed Saudi circuit in the past few days in Los Angeles:

No. 1 Jon Rahm: “This is my official, my one and only time I’ll talk about this, where I am officially declaring my fealty to the PGA Tour. I’m a PAC member, and I have a lot of belief in (commissioner) Jay Monahan and the product that they’re going to give us in the future. There has been a lot of talk and speculation about the Saudi league. It’s just not something I believe is the best for me and my future in golf, and I think the best legacy I can accomplish will be with the PGA Tour. … “[The Saudis] throw numbers at you, and that’s supposed to impress people. I’m in this game for the love of golf and the love of the game and to become a champion. I grew up watching many great players play great events such as this one, and there’s history and legacy to those things. That’s something that has a lot of appeal to me.”

No. 2 Collin Morikawa: “I’m all for the PGA Tour. I’ve been a pro for two and a half years. My entire life I’ve thought about the PGA Tour, I’ve thought about playing against Tiger, beating his records, whatever, something that might not even be breakable, but I’ve never had another thought of what’s out there, right? I’ve never thought about anything else; it’s always been the PGA Tour. Has it opened up things for us as professional golfers to open up things for the PGA Tour to look at what to do better? Absolutely. We’ve seen a lot of changes, some good, some bad, some that are still going to be amended I’m sure as time goes on. Right now, you look at the best players that I see and they’re all sticking with the PGA Tour and that’s where I kind of stay and that’s where I belong. I’m very happy to be here. I’ve played I think three events this year, feels like I’ve played nothing and part of that was designed in the fall to only play two events. But after missing a lot of the West Coast Swing, I decided to go over there and play on the DP World Tour. I miss being out on the PGA Tour. I miss seeing these guys, I miss playing out here and I just want to compete against the best in the world and right now that’s where it is. I’m very happy, I’m very thrilled to be here.”

No. 4 Viktor Hovland: “If I had my wish, I would just keep playing the PGA Tour, but yeah, we’ll see what happens. I just want to play against the best players in the world. Everyone goes over there, kind of leaves me with no choice, but I would like to play the PGA Tour. … Obviously, money is good [on the Saudi tour], it’s nice to make money, but that’s not what gets me up every day in the morning. I’m just trying to get better at golf. Obviously, a tournament like this, at a course like Riviera and all the past winners, it’s a really cool history. Just to be a part of that, that means something to me, being a PGA Tour winner. And yeah, winning these historical events, I think that’s very cool.”

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Hovland’s wish: To play Tour vs. world’s best

Viktor Hovland wants to continue playing against the best players in the world. And for now, it appears that’s on the PGA Tour.

No. 5 Rory McIlroy: “I knew the way these guys have operated, and it’s all been smoke and mirrors and they’ve created rumors and spread rumors and tried to play one guy off another and said one thing to one manager and said a different thing to another manager and just sort of created this chaos and confusion around that group, and everyone’s questioning everyone else’s motives so they’re just kind of playing everyone off one another. I think it’s nice now that we all can sit down and say, look, we’re all on the same page here. Are there things the Tour could do better and they’re working on, of course, but that’s the same in any business, in any sports league around the world, they’re all trying to get better just as the PGA Tour are. But that is why the tournament in Saudi happened a couple weeks ago, I thought it was awfully quiet, there were no announcement that were really made, and I think once that happened everyone was waiting something, and nothing really came of it.”

No. 7 Justin Thomas: “I think that’s a big reason why I’ve been in the position I’ve been in [being for the PGA Tour]. I’ve never really gone down that road [of entertaining the Saudi idea]. I have a lot of things I’m focused on accomplishing out here and I’ll be the first to say that, yeah, there’s plenty of things that I would love to see improve with the PGA Tour, but that’s a part of the process, you know. All you want to do is better the product and one by one, if we can improve this here, this there and keep getting better, then everybody wins. I’m very, very content with what’s going on. I mean, the reason I play golf is to create a legacy and win as many times as I can on the PGA Tour.”

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News & Opinion

Riviera’s marquee names express SGL fatigue

For those with SGL fatigue, Thursday at the Genesis Invitational should have been a welcome antidote.

No. 9 Dustin Johnson: “Over the past several months, there has been a great deal of speculation about an alternative tour, much of which seems to have included me and my future in professional golf. I feel it is now time to put such speculation to rest. I am fully committed to the PGA Tour. I am grateful for the opportunity to play on the best tour in the world and for all it has provided me and my family. While there will always be areas where our Tour can improve and evolve, I am thankful for our leadership and the many sponsors who make the PGA Tour golf’s premier tour.”

No. 12 Bryson DeChambeau: “While there has been a lot of speculation surrounding my support for another tour, I want to make it very clear that as long as the best players in the world are playing the PGA Tour, so will I. As of now, I am focused on getting myself healthy and competing again soon.”

No. 14 Jordan Spieth: “I don’t know, considering how many of the top 10 to 50 players in the world have now committed publicly to the PGA Tour, including those guys [DeChambeau and Johnson], I don’t know who they are getting to fill it out and make it worth it. I’m surprised [by] Bryson with the rumors about his offer and we all know he was strongly considering it.”

No. 20 Joaquin Niemann: “Obviously everyone’s here to compete against the best players in the world. I’m here to do the same. I want to compete with the best players in the world, I want to be No. 1 one day. I think there’s nothing better like what I’m feeling right now. Winning a PGA Tour event, getting a trophy, having Tiger there, all the history behind, there’s nothing that can compete with this.”

No. 30 Will Zalatoris: “I think it’s pretty evident my allegiance is with the PGA Tour. I grew up wanting to play on the PGA Tour, I want my legacy to be here and now that all the top players have decided to be here, I think it kind of speaks for itself. … It sounds like a lot of guys are interested who are in their early 40s or late 30s. The example I gave is, I was approached to play in the Saudi International and, quite frankly, prior to these two events, I haven’t won out here, I haven’t had a good year. I could have lost my card and been back on [the Korn Ferry Tour]. Even though it was enticing, it made no sense for me to do it.”

No. 34 Adam Scott: “The schedule they’re proposing is very appealing to probably most golfers, I would think. You know, depending what your goals are in golf, I think the schedule is very appealing. From that side of things, I would consider doing that, for sure. From a lifestyle side of things, yes. … I think it’s a bigger discussion than just a quick quote from me up here, to be honest. You know, I can understand obviously that angle, you know. I think you can argue both sides of lots of things, but at the end of the day I think my general feeling on this at the moment is that it’s only a positive thing for professional golfers at the moment that there’s interest and money coming into the sport, and it’s also somewhat forced the PGA Tour to put more money into the professional golfers and we’re seeing that all around the world, too. They’ve put money into the European Tour. The LIV Golf Investments has put money into the Asian Tour. So at the moment that’s good for strengthening the professional game. How everything else pans out, I don’t know, but at the moment I think it’s good that these things are happening for golf professionals.”

No. 36 Max Homa: “We think about it a lot, talk about it a lot. It’s an interesting dynamic we’ve got going. I love the PGA Tour. Driving up to this golf course with memories of winning a golf tournaments that Tiger Woods handed me a trophy, they don’t have that in a breakaway league. Money’s cool. People out here, some people play for the money, some people play for the love of it, I guess the enjoyment of the successes. But I can promise you right now that the furthest thing from my mind and furthest thing from anyone’s question really was when I won this golf tournament, I made the most money I’ve ever made in one lump, $1.67 million, and that’s not the part that I remember. That’s my take on it. I’m not saying that these leagues couldn’t be great, and things may change. My point is everything through this golf tournament that has made me get the chills as I talk about it and get the chills as I drive up here and think, ‘What the hell,’ when I see my picture on things out on the golf course that I grew up to love, I would not be getting that anywhere else. That’s my allegiance.”

Tiger Woods: “I’ve decided for myself that I’m supporting the PGA Tour. That’s where my legacy is. I’ve been fortunate enough to have won 82 events on this tour and 15 major championships, and been a part of the World Golf Championships, the start of them and the end of them.”

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Source: GolfChannel

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