The changes made by the US PGA Tour for next season have been lifted from the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit, says England’s Lee Westwood.
This week PGA commissioner Jay Monahan announced tour players have agreed to a set of amendments to the schedule which will see players compete in 20 events next season, with 12 “elevated” stops with $20 million in prize money and minimum season pay amounts for fully exempt players.
LIV Golf offers $25 million purses and 54-hole events to players who jumped ship.
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In response to the PGA’s changes, LIV golfer Westwood, told Golf Digest the move by the PGA lacked thought and is copied from the current format in place by the rebel league.
“I laugh at what the PGA Tour players have come up with,” Westwood told the magazine. “It’s just a copy of what LIV is doing. There are a lot of hypocrites out there.
“They all say LIV is ‘not competitive.’ They all point at the no-cut aspect of LIV and the short fields. Now, funnily enough, they are proposing 20 events that look a lot like LIV.
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“Hopefully, at some point they will all choke on their words. And hopefully, they will be held to account as we were in the early days.”
Seven more players are expected to switch to LIV Golf after this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta, according to numerous reports.
When asked about the PGA’s reconfiguration, three-time major winner Jordan Spieth said it’s clear the changes were brought about by the threat of LIV Golf.
“It’s impossible to not think that that was a catalyst for continuing to want to make sure the players that we have on the PGA Tour now stay on the PGA Tour,” Spieth said.
“Would this have gone that direction this soon? Maybe not, but to say that it wouldn’t have happened in general, I’m not sure.
“But I think that that certainly has been a catalyst for looking at the product as a whole and figuring out how to make it the best it can possibly be.”
While golfers who have switched tours have been panned for putting money before morales against a backdrop of “sportwashing” claims made against the Saudi government, Westwood was clear about his stance.
“The questions on the Saudi government and their policies are unanswerable,” Westwood says. “My response is just to try and not answer them. I’m not a politician. I’m a golfer.”
As for LIV’s 54-hole format, Westwood, who turns 50 next April, says the layout suits him at this point of his life.
“I’m looking forward to playing the LIV event in Miami at the end of October then not having to tee-up again until February,” Westwood said.
“Already I can say to people, ‘These are the 14 weeks I’m playing next year.’ And I can have some fun in the other 38.”
Westwood said he hopes to play in four DP World Tour events next year and looks forward to playing in the BMW PGA Championship next month at Wentworth, where many LIV Golf players will compete against players from the European circuit.
England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, the reigning US Open champion, said it will be tricky at Wentworth with 20 LIV Golf players expected in that field.
“It’s going to be odd seeing certain people, obviously, at Wentworth. That is going to be a bit weird and obviously it’s a little bit disappointing,” he said.
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