Day 2 Musings From Centurion Club

As LIV Golf prepares to crown its first champion, some observations on what has transpired on and off the course

By Alan Shipnuck

HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, England — Assorted thoughts on the eve of the final round of the inaugural LIV Golf event:

The team format means a lot more to the players than the rest of us

For all the snickering about the hokey names and the anatomical logos, the tournament-within-the-tournament team competition has captured the fancy of the players. Of course money is a factor: The winning four-man team will split $3 million without having to do any extra work. But professional golf is a lonely existence, and there appears to be genuine camaraderie among the teammates. “I actually felt it on my 17th hole, the first hole of the course,” Charl Schwartzel said following the first round. “I had a 5-footer for bogey, and I knew my score was counting for the team. I was more worried to make it for my team than I was worried for myself. Yeah, we were conscious of it, and you could see the leaderboards.” Over the first two rounds, the best two scores from each team count toward the standings; for Saturday’s final round, three scores will count, so even players who have no chance to win the individual competition have something to grind on. 

Dustin Johnson is engaged

Actually, he just got married, but this week the future Hall of Famer appears locked in, although admittedly it can be hard to tell with DJ. During the second round he repeatedly covered the flagstick during an even-par 70 that left him T5, eight shots back of Schwartzel’s lead. Johnson has received little flack for defecting from the PGA Tour, coasting on his reputation as a good ol’ boy who just wants to make birdies, collect cash and have fun. But 19 months removed from his last victory, Johnson (days away from turning 38) is competing with the intensity of a man who has something to prove.

Say what you want about LIV, but the food and drink offerings for fans are A++

The seafood paella might be the best thing I’ve ever tasted at a sporting event, and there are a bevy of English beers available for the equivalent of six bucks, or a third of what suds were selling for at the PGA Championship.

Jerry Foltz now has the toughest (but best?) job in golf

“Foltzy” was always criminally underused by U.S. networks, and being one of the lead voices for LIV was realistically his only shot to land a tower gig, so you can’t blame the guy for accepting a massive career upgrade. But now he is compelled to offer cheery insights about dozens of players whom even serious fans have never heard of, with nary a bathroom break … or maybe that’s more fun than having to talk about Jon Rahm’s maturation for the thousandth time? One overlooked aspect to the LIV experiment is how good the streaming experience will be for fans who care to tune in. With no corporate sponsors—and the Saudis won’t ever need them from a financial standpoint—the stream is wall-to-wall golf from start to finish.

Schwartzel with a long putter is quite dangerous

He has always had one of the most pleasing swings in golf, but despite his legendary birdie binge to win the 2011 Masters, Schwartzel has long been plagued by maddeningly inconsistent stretches on the greens. Having committed to a long putter early this year, he has looked rock-solid on the tricky greens at Centurion Club. After rounds of 65-66, he leads Hennis Du Plessis by three and is five shots clear of third. At 37, Schwartzel still has plenty left in the tank. He will be a cornerstone of this year’s International Presidents Cup team, provided the PGA Tour softens its hard-line stance and lets LIV players back into the fold. That intrigue will be the story of the summer. In the meantime, LIV has a champion to crown. One more day, and the first chapter of this controversial venture will be in the books.

9 thoughts on “Day 2 Musings From Centurion Club”

  1. Alan, just as in the reporting on Phil for your amazing book, I think you have been very fair to all. While I hate the idea of a LIV tour, you have been very gracious in your assessments, both good and bad.

    1. Would love to hear from the Caddies..their lot has improved dramatically too from.what I can gather. Good for them. I wonder will we see an exodus of caddies too from the main tours over to LIV?
      What’s happened to Andy Ogletree.? There’s a story to be told. Golf is hard and the decent to anonymity merciless..

  2. Thanks Alan. I love this new Fire Pit Collective. Great writing and insights and fair. I check it every day.

  3. Alan, thanks for the LIV reporting.
    I remember the AFL and ABA they were only a threat until the money ran out, that’s not LIVs problem.
    How does the PGA win this battle, by convincing heads at The Masters and the Opens to exclude these money-grubbers ? Is it even possible?

    1. The pga tour is going to have to blow up their existing model. They need contracts and smaller fields with less tournaments. They need to get rid of all developmental tours. Everything that isn’t efficiently creating revenue needs to be cut. If not another group will come in and buyout the rest of the players..

  4. Alan: I have enjoyed your posts from LIV Golf this week.

    The story I haven’t seen about LIV golf is who is the driver behind this on the Saudi side? Was there a young price that went to college in Arizona and fell in love golf? Are there a half dozen princes that like to go on buddy golf trips? Just how did the Royal family decide golf was a sport they wanted to support? There are many others they could have chosen but for some reason settled on golf?

  5. I may have missed it, but who’s in charge of rulings on the course? Are they playing by USGA rules? R&A? Who are the rules officials and are they paid? Are there any differences in how on-course rulings are made from what would be found on the PGA or DP tours?

    Sergio and Patrick wanted me to ask.

  6. Alan, thank you for your excellent reporting and writings skills. As you are at the forefront of the LIVGolf situation, could you investigate or offer some perspective on a couple of points that are not being addressed: 1) The PGATour is aligned with the DPWorld Tour, which is sponsored by a company (DP World International) that is owned by the United Arab Emirates, a country with a human rights record that is only. a bit better than Saudi Arabia…and yet, nobody has ever talked about “where the DP World Tour” gets its money. Similarly, the PGATour was fine when members got their permission to play in tournaments in Saudi Arabia before. Is the “morality” about Saudi money only applied when there is a competitive threat? and, 2) The PGATour, and the accompanying media and golf industries have used “more money” to generate interest and news stories for decades (e.g., the Fedex Cup is supposedly more exciting because there is so much money on the line!). So, how can they be upset when another entity arrives to use “even MORE money” to generate interest and excitement?

    I find this whole situation interesting and I simply hope a professional like you can move us all past “he said, she said” and get into bigger picture of what is going on structurally, and how our beloved PGATour needs to change to address this “existential threat.” Thanks again for your writing which I regularly seek out and enjoy!

  7. Alan, just to say i was pleasantly surprised by your honest reporting of what actually transpired rather than trying to shoot LIV golf down instead. Kudos to you…

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