LIV Golf rebel Lee Westwood ‘laughs’ at the PGA Tour’s recent changes, takes swipe at ‘hypocrites’

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Lee Westwood has found the recent changes the PGA Tour has announced in the wake of the launch of LIV Golf to be comical.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan revealed on Wednesday a number of immediate changes, including a minimum salary of $500,000 for all players, a new average purse of $20million to keep pace with LIV, and immediate lifetime membership for golfers when they reach 20 wins – rather than the initial 15 years needed.

The Tour chief is believed to have given the green light to the changes as the battle against the Saudi-backed breakaway series, LIV, continues. 

Former Ryder Cup hero Westwood was one of the first to defect to the rebel tour, teeing it up at the inaugural event in St Albans, London and captaining his team, the Majesticks, at the second and third events of the series. 

The former World No. 1 has now slammed the PGA Tour’s changes as he branded his former tour a copycat of his new one and slammed his former peers ‘hypocrites’. 

‘I laugh at what the PGA Tour players have come up with,’ Westwood told Golf Digest in an interview published Thursday. 

Lee Westwood has found the recent changes the PGA Tour has announced to be comical

Lee Westwood has found the recent changes the PGA Tour has announced to be comical

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan revealed Wednesday a number of immediate changes

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan revealed Wednesday a number of immediate changes 

‘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.’

SUMMARY OF PGA TOUR CHANGES  

Introduction of four elevated events (making the season total 12)

Top Players commit to a 20 event PGA Tour schedule per year

Expansion of the Player Impact Program

Launch of Earnings Assurance Program

Launch of Travel Stipend Program for non-exempt members

Change to Sentry Tournament of Champions qualifying criteria

Lifetime Membership awarded after 20 wins (removing membership length criteria)

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On Wednesday, Monahan also declared that ‘top players’ have committed to compete in at least 20 PGA Tour events per year, with 12 of the tournaments now classed as ‘elevated events’.

The elevated events, which will be announced in due course, will join the FedEx St Jude Championship, BMW Championship, Tour Championship/FedEx Cup, The Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Memorial Tournament, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship and the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

LIV Golf has modeled itself around being a 52-hole, no-cut tournament, rather than the traditional 72 on the Tour and a combinations of individual and team competition. 

Westwood claimed the Tour’s new 20 events were strikingly similar to the LIV model as he claimed he hoped the PGA Tour ‘will be held accountable’.  

‘Now, funnily enough, they are proposing 20 events that look a lot like LIV,’ Westwood added.

‘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.’ 

The changes implemented by Monahan come in the wake of a crunch players-only meeting held last week ahead of the BMW Championship in Wilmington, Delaware. 

23 of the PGA Tour’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler gathered to discuss plans to fightback against the LIV Golf threat, which included proposals for Woods and McIlroy’s TGL venture. 

During a players-only meeting last week, Tiger Woods (left) and Rory McIlroy (right) are said to have pitched TGL, a 'tech-infused' stadium series, involving two-hour three-vs-three events

During a players-only meeting last week, Tiger Woods (left) and Rory McIlroy (right) are said to have pitched TGL, a ‘tech-infused’ stadium series, involving two-hour three-vs-three events

TGL's live-audience events will also provide a 'high-energy, greenside fan experience'

TGL’s live-audience events will also provide a ‘high-energy, greenside fan experience’

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler attended the meeting

US Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick was also reportedly among the 23 stars

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (L) and US Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick (R) attended the meeting

All players were believed to have left the meeting in unanimous support of the proposals with suggestions passed on to Monahan, who has almost immediately implemented them. 

23 PGA Tour Loyalists

Tiger Woods

Rory McIlroy

Scottie Scheffler

Patrick Cantlay

Xander Schauffele

Justin Thomas

Jon Rahm

Collin Morikawa

Will Zalatoris

Viktor Hovland

Matt Fitzpatrick

Sam Burns

Jordan Spieth 

Tony Finau

Billy Horschel

Cameron Young

Joaquin Niemann

Max Homa

Shane Lowry

Tyrrell Hatton

Kevin Kisner

Rickie Fowler

Adam Scott

 

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However, Westwood warned that the ‘strategic alliance’ between the players and the organization will not last as the Tour are ‘bullies’.  

‘I’m not convinced by the strategic alliance because I’ve seen how the PGA Tour has behaved over the years,’ Westwood said. 

‘There’s not much “give.” They have always been bullies and now they are getting their comeuppance. 

‘All the PGA Tour has done since Tiger [Woods] came on tour is up the prize purses. In turn, that has taken all the best players from Europe away from the European Tour. They’ve had to play in the States, taking all their world ranking points with them. 

‘That was their strategy: “Put up the money. Get all the players. Hog all the world ranking points.” Which becomes self-perpetuating. What we have seen over the last few months is just LIV doing what the PGA Tour has done for the last 25 years.’ 

Westwood is just one of many big names to have jumped ship to LIV Golf over the past few months, with the breakaway series luring the likes of former World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka away with eight or nine figure offers. 

It remains to be seen if Monahan’s retaliation will prevent anymore profile stars defecting to the rival tour amid rumors World No. 2 and British Open champion Cameron Smith could be the next to defect. 

Smith is one of seven players, including 2021 Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama,  rumored to join the exodus from the PGA Tour after the Tour Championship, which began on Thursday. 

British Open champion Cameron Smith has reportedly already agreed a huge deal to join LIV

2021 Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama is considered to be the real big fish for LIV

Cameron Smith (left) and Hideki Matsuyma (right) are rumored to be the next to join LIV Gplf

However, Monahan shut down any possibility of LIV Golf rebels returning to the circuit if they are enticed by the huge increase to the prize pot he announced Wednesday.

Asked if LIV Golf players who were impressed by the changes and wanted to return would have their suspensions lifted, Monahan said: ‘No.

‘They’ve joined the LIV Golf Series and they’ve made that commitment. For most of them, they’ve made multi-year commitments. 

‘As I’ve been clear throughout, every player has a choice, and I respect their choice, but they’ve made it. We’ve made ours. We’re going to continue to focus on the things that we control and get stronger and stronger.’

‘As it relates to any of the scenarios for LIV players and coming back, I’ll remind you that we’re in a lawsuit,’ he added. ‘They’ve sued us. I think talking about any hypotheticals at this point doesn’t make a lot of sense.’ 

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