Have The PGA & DP World Tours Unwittingly Stumbled Across A Future With LIV Golf?

By Ian John
February 1, 2023

You may recall a short time ago, we took a look at how the increasing divide in men’s professional golf between the ‘old guard’ of the USPGA and the DP World Tour and the ‘upstart newcomers’ LIV Golf could cause a chasm in the game to open up even further this season.

The rhetoric from all camps has been defiant, with litigation from both the USPGA and LIV Golf set to come to a head later this year and open dissent between players of the opposing organisations over the past 10 months or so.

However, at the weekend, did we unwittingly see how professional golf could have a future with the warring factions in the recently completed Dubai Desert Classic?

Before we investigate further what happened at the weekend, let’s remember that bet365 Sport offers excellent golf options throughout the season for all tournaments from the US PGA, DP World Tour, LIV Golf and more besides.

That includes exceptional women’s golf coverage, plus the popular bet365 Live Golf Tracker which is available across many tournaments throughout the year to eligible customers.

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Let us now take a look at what happened this past weekend in Dubai and why it could, and perhaps should, offer a way forward for top level men’s professional golf.

The 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic

After a superb start to the 2023 season on the USPGA Tour, Jon Rahm was putting real pressure on Rory McIlroy for the World Number 1 spot in the golf rankings, so Rory McIlroy already had the focus of the media on him as he prepared for this weekend’s big event in Dubai.

That spotlight grew even more intense when it emerged that McIlroy and Patrick Reed had something of a spat when on the practice range ahead of the tournament.

Currently, due to a suspension of the sanctions imposed by the DP World Tour, LIV Golf players are allowed to compete in DP World Tour events, at least until a hearing scheduled for 6th to 10th February.

The fact that a number of LIV players have played in DP World Tour events since that ruling has irked a number of players, including McIlroy.

Teegate – Drama At The Range

Reed, who left the USPGA Tour to join LIV Golf last year, has been a long-time rival of McIlroy, an outspoken critic of LIV Golf, and that all came to a head on the driving range.

The American is believed to have approached McIlroy with a view to speaking to him, only for the Northern Irishman to ignore him completely.

In response, Reed is said to have flicked one of his LIV Golf tees at McIlroy (which the Irishman said he did not notice) and stated to the press thereafter that McIlroy was behaving like a child.

McIlroy accused Reed of not “living in the real world” and stated he did not want to speak to Reed after McIlroy was subpoenaed on Christmas Eve by the Americans legal team in Reed’s defamation case against the PGA Tour.

Given that frosty start to the tournament, it was almost inevitable that the two would be going head to head on the rain-delayed final day of action.

An Intense And Dramatic Final Day

Heading into the fourth round of the tournament, McIlroy led by three shots after a superb third round 65, while Reed was one of a number of players, including other LIV stars Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, who trailed the Irishman by four shots.

The two were not drawn together for the final round and it is probably just as well, as the rivalry was just as intense even though they were playing in separate groups.

Reed started the final round superbly and by the 11th hole, he had wiped out that four shot lead by being six-under par for the final round, to lead McIlroy by two as the Irishman headed to the turn.

No doubt after seeing Reed’s name replace him at the top of the leaderboard, the Irishman was stung into action and he produced two birdies in the next 7 holes to tie the contest.

Drama At The Last

However, Reed refused to lie down and he birdied the 18th and at the same time, McIlroy was securing a third birdie on the back nine on the 17th to ensure that McIlroy was tied with Reed heading up the 18th.

McIlroy produced a fine finish though, hitting the green in regulation and then holing a 20-foot putt to claim the victory after an exciting final day of action.

The Irishman explained how intense it was after collecting the trophy.

“Mentally it was very tough, I felt like I could have let my emotions get in the way of what I was trying to do because of who was up there on the leaderboard.”

“I expended a lot of mental energy just trying to focus myself”

“I’m going to enjoy this. This is probably sweeter than it should be or needs to be.”

It was the third time that McIlroy had won the event in his career

First LIV Event of the Year

This weekend will see the first LIV Golf Event of the new golfing year as the Saudi International gets underway at the same time as the prestigious Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the USPGA Tour.

Then when those tournaments finish, Monday will see the start of the DP World Tour/LIV Golf hearing, which will determine whether LIV Golf players can play on any more DP World Tour events.

At present, a divide between the USPGA & DP World against LIV Golf seems inevitable, but that would be a great shame given how the rivalry between the warring factions created a hugely exciting end to the tournament last Sunday.

Perhaps now may be a good time for all the different organisations to realise that while they may have different opinions, they are short-changing the golfing community by refusing steadfast to co-operate with each other in terms of allowing players to compete, except in the Majors.

Could you imagine the rivalry that a LIV Golf v DP World/USPGA Tour Ryder Cup competition would foster? How attractive that would be to golf fans the world over!

There is scope for a unified front for golf, but while legal action hangs over the situation and players remain acrimonious towards one another, that does seem a distant pipedream.

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