With the permission of Augusta National, the field for next week’s Masters will include six former champions that made the decision to join LIV Golf.
Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel and Phil Mickelson will all tee it up on 6th April, certain to show that the move to the rebel tour has not diminished their ability to still compete amongst the world’s elite.
However, Pete Cowan, coach to the likes of Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka, says that he is “not optimistic” about the chances of the LIV players at the first major of the year.
In an interview with The Times, the 72-year-old short-game wizard said,
“I’m not optimistic about players who aren’t playing competitively on a regular basis,”
“It’s a big deal. Like any sport, if you’re not competitively sharp you struggle.”
To put that into context, the official world’s top three players have taken part in a total of 21 events between them, with number three Jon Rahm leading the way with eight competitive outings, one ahead of the world number one Scottie Scheffler.
In contrast, 2016 US Open and 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson has only played two events since the turn of the year – LIV Mayakoba and LIV Tucson – and the current LIV table leader Charles Howell has done the same.
As The Times states, the most active PGA athletes will have played ‘more than double’ the number of rounds compared to their LIV counterparts come the Masters. There is concern over the level of commitment and desire to win from the LIV players, with last year’s Open Championship winner Cam Smith finishing fifth and 24th in his two outings in 2023, and DJ ranking in 35th and 13th in limited fields.
It may be that it’s money for old rope, but the incentive to appear in one of the PGA Tour’s ‘elevated’ events must also weigh heavily on those that took the big bucks to jump ship in 2022.
Cowan doesn’t slate those that went for the money, agreeing it has to be a motivating factor in sport, no matter what the public persona might say.
“Whether they say they do or not, they all play for money,” he said, before continuing
“They are selfish and they have to be to be very good players. Ask Rory how much appearance money he gets a year. They all need to get round a table because if someone is investing billions into my sport I’d be saying, ‘How can I accommodate you?’”
Source : Golfwrx