To say that 2022 has been a dangerous year for golf would be an understatement.
The launch of LIV Golf has sparked a divide at the heart of the men’s game, with some of the world’s biggest names queuing up on either side of the sickle, ready and willing to litter.
How that particular position plays out in 2023 will, of course, be the biggest story in the game, but there’s plenty of action on the pitch to look forward to as well.
Which stars are in decline?
Phil Mickelson made the cut all year, retired from the World 200 for the first time in three decades, and was banned from the PGA Tour. Forbes has also named the 52-year-old athlete as the highest-paid athlete in 2022.
Nothing exemplifies the craziness of LIV golf and the mercurial lefty in his early season breakout on Tour. While his reputation has plummeted to never-before-seen depths, his bank balance has skyrocketed spectacularly.
Mickelson may not have sold his soul to the devil, but it’s certainly fair to suggest that he whipped out his hero worship for the ultimate price. With a $200 million registration fee, he surpassed both Tiger Woods and Lionel Messi in the earnings stakes. Mickelson now has the riches he always believed to be his own on the PGA Tour but with him has come pariah status.
In February, he was quoted as saying that “Saudi sons of bitches are scary to get involved with”, but argued that he could deal with the Kingdom’s “terrible human rights record” because it made him “once- Presented with “in-one”. The opportunity of a lifetime” to get what he wanted. What he considers his proper dessert.
By the time these comments hit social media, her historic 2021 USPGA win as the oldest major champion in history at age 50 had been forgotten.
We later learned that he was banned by his home circuit for working against him and after skipping both the Masters and USPGA defence, he appeared in the first LIV event at St Albans.
He was the poster boy of LIV. And Rory McIlroy, a staunch enemy of the Conservatives, called him “entitled” and “arrogant”. Mickelson’s status as a legend has been revoked, at least in the dusty corridors of power, but he insists he favors winners. He believes the LIV may be his most worthy legacy, given that the PGA Tour financial incentive to retain top names could not have been achieved otherwise.
Mickelson is far from the only rogue superstar to accept the Saudi shilling – Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and even Open champion Cam Smith jumped ship – but he’s a history most remembered Will go humiliating fall from grace.
Are the stars rising?
In the men’s game, Scotty Scheffler, Matt Fitzpatrick and Smith were first-time Grand Slam winners, while Justin Thomas joined the multi-winner club.
In the women’s categories, Ashley Buhai pulled off a huge upset at the Women’s Open, with Minjee Lee taking the top spot in US women’s golf.
For all this though, Rory McIlroy’s year was fueled by great victories. It was not the fact that he won orders of merit on both sides of the Atlantic, or that he achieved the world No. 1 ranking that set him apart, but what he did off the field.
McIlroy dared to be the voice of the LIV opposition and thus put his head on the wall.
Yes, there are many who disagree with him, arguing that if he wants to stop his major league drought – now in his ninth year – he should pay less attention to what comes out of his mouth and more attention to what comes out of his mouth. More attention should be paid to what comes out of it. … your driver’s sweet spot. But it would be extremely rude to deny that McIlroy didn’t hit the road after talking for the sake of talking. An amazing 12 months for the Northern Irishman.
crisis looming over the game
Three Roman numerals – LIV. Professional men’s golf has never known anything like this civil war and until a solution is found, it will almost certainly be even bloodier.
Most popular tickets for 2023
Aug. 6, Augusta National, Georgia. The first day of The Masters is always eagerly awaited, but this time the hype could reach a whole new level.
If all goes well, Woods will play, and the icon’s latest attempt at another resurrection will naturally draw attention. However, he will have a rival in the limelight.
At least 16 LIV golfers will be invited to Augusta, including six former winners. Tuesday’s Champions Dinner should be a lively event with Mickelson coming face-to-face with Woods, who expresses his dismay at the actions of his longtime nemesis.
Will Mickelson dare to appear that evening? Will Augusta try to persuade her and others like Sergio García not to celebrate the evening? And when the first round begins, will the organizers ensure that there are no juicy matchups and LIV players are confined to the sidelines?
It’s in Augusta’s power for the first two rounds, but even they can’t legislate against some furious weekend matches.
Nevermind, what about the Rory-Sergio pairing after their battle with Mickelson-Woods, LIV? Or how about Bryson DeChambeau’s stretch with Justin Thomas? Or Patrick Reed with Almost Anyone?
Augusta may grumble, but the majors may never enjoy more elevated status in this LIV legal standoff. Those four events will be the only occasions the top male professionals meet. Cue fireworks.
Predictions for 2023
Rory McIlroy will finally win her fifth Major, Leona Maguire will win Ireland in a Women’s Major for the first time and Europe will be filled with excitement in consecutive weeks with victories at the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup in September.
But it’s no longer enough for a golf writer to guess what will happen to the fairway, because the superhuman known as LIV is ravaging the cultivated landscape, a plus-four fortune teller now competing in competition law, geopolitics Must be an expert. and Machiavelli.
So here it is. The LIV DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, will prevail in its February legal hearing against the European Tour, meaning the likes of Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood can still play on their home circuits and remain eligible for the Ryder Cup . However, there is little chance that he will be in or around the locker room in Rome, and neither will Sergio Garcia or Paul Casey.
However, before the May 1 deadline the tour could see an influx of new members, including Johnson, Smith, Koepka and DeChambeau.
Such an event would be unbearably awkward for the DP World Tour and its “strategic alliance” with the PGA Tour, as both seem powerless to stop the big names banned from gambling by the millions in America.
This will certainly bring the prospect of a bargain closer to reality, but with the antitrust case wending its way through the US judicial system’s moves, the peace won’t be broken anytime soon.