In Jonathan Swift’s 1729 essay, “A Modest Proposal,” he suggests that — to solve economic woes of the times — the poorest people in Ireland should simply sell their children to the rich as food. The parody that LIV Golf has been to date makes Swift’s satire look entirely reasonable.
And we haven’t even gotten to the part where Mickelson speaks.
Logos and team names dropped for the 48-golfer league, and both look as if they were conceived in an art contest for children of the league’s participants. Majesticks, 4Aces, Fireballs and Iron Heads are just a few of the 12 club names, and you can see the team logos below. All the money and most of the time in the world, and this is what we get.
Unfortunately for LIV Golf, it is emblematic of how the last six months have played out.
Despite all of this, the PGA Tour remains vulnerable. Players have intimated that they intend to play the major championships, and if Johnson and Mickelson prove in the months ahead that they’re able to contend for history while also moving the comma on their annual compensation, more stars are going to clear the moral hurdle they have set in their own minds (however low it may be) and make the jump.
LIV Golf has problems as well, though. The first is that its demographics are more beer league softball than Cape Cod summer league. At 38, Johnson is one of its youngest stars. And while it certainly has aspirations to draw in some of the top amateurs in the world (like it already has with 2021 U.S. Amateur winner James Piot), the question remains as to whether it can develop its own homegrown stars to take over the PGA Tour as the top league in the world.
Perhaps the folks running LIV GOlf don’t even care about taking over the PGA Tour, but that does certainly seem to be the desired trajectory. And even if you land the five best amateurs every single year, can those same golfers become stars while shooting 64s into the void at events nobody is watching, or do they need historical context of either a collection of PGA Tour events (Riviera, Muirfield Village and TPC Sawgrass) or the major championships to become the stars Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth?
That’s a complex question with no right answer, but it leads to LIV Golf’s single biggest issue: It is making a mockery of itself in the presence of the organizations that probably control its future.
On the same island where, on Tuesday, LIV Golf rolled out comically-named teams captained by folks the average fan has never seen, 50 days from now a golfer will win a 150-year-old jug while hitting shots on a course where folks have struck objects with sticks since before the United States existed.
Rick Gehman, Kyle Porter, Jonathan Coachman and Mark Immelman react to the USGA’s decision to allow LIV Golf players to compete in the 2022 U.S. Open. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Those ridiculous teams will play for $25 million later this week while taking a bath for the Saudi Arabia crown prince’s future tourism plans, and six weeks later, a town awash in one of the great events in major championship golf will only be thinking about history.
How are both of these entities categorized as professional golf? Has non-major golf ever felt this far removed from the four events that matter most?
If major championships make stars — and stars are what any league outside the majors is dependent upon — the obvious logic is that the major championships control the future of professional golf’s regular season, so to speak.
How does that take place? Through something called the Official World Golf Rankings, whose founding members include the PGA Tour, R&A, USGA, PGA of America, European Tour, International Federation of PGA Tours and Augusta National Golf Club.
LIV Golf has applied to receive OWGR points, through which its players could maintain statuses as top-50 or top-20 golfers in the world so they can continue to play their way into the majors. LIV Golf COO Atul Kholsa was asked about this idea recently, and he said LIV is “in the process right now of the application to put our application in.” Whatever that means.
He also offered a monumental caveat.
“But the [OWGR] board does consist of the same individuals that have threatened players, correct? It’s interesting, isn’t it, how everything is controlled by the same individuals if you want to play golf in this world? We’ll see how it goes.”
If the folks running the OWGR don’t recognize LIV Golf as a legitimate tour — a monstrous, sport-shaping “if” at this point — then LIV Golf will be propped up by D.J. and Lefty in the short term but will struggle to sustain itself in the long-term once those players cycle out of playing in the majors and eventually retire. That’s unless its business model is to simply pick off players who have already made a name for themselves and are reaching the end of their careers. (Which it very well might be!).
Ironically, though, by introducing itself as a sideshow to the world — both behind the scenes, and amazingly, out in public — LIV Golf has only empowered the major championships to deny it entry into the golf landscape. The majors seem even more important today than they did 3-6 months ago. As “regular season golf” fractures, the majors have never felt more monumental. And with consolidated power comes tremendous influence those organizations can wield over entities like LIV.
The USGA on Tuesday announced that any golfers who have already qualified for the 2022 U.S. Open will be allowed to play at The Country Club next week because it would be unfair to competitors to make a change to their established criteria. However, the USGA clarified that its decision “should not be construed as the USGA supporting an alternative organizing entity, nor supportive of any individual player actions or comments.”
The PGA Tour is not impermeable. An organization could come along with a better business model for the modern era and usurp what the Tour has built over the last 50 years. Nobody is denying that.
However, after LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman’s amusing-if-they-weren’t-so-sad recent comments about Jamaal Khashoggi, and the Saturday Night Live feel to everything LIV has done to date, it’s clear this is not that league. If the major organizations get to choose (and it does seem they do), LIV Golf has made the choice spectacularly simple.
Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” is positioned as a historically-relevant satirical work that “has come to symbolize any proposition to solve a problem with an effective but outrageous cure.”
LIV Golf wouldn’t be introduced for another 290 years after Swift wrote his essay, but I’m not sure it has ever been described more accurately or presciently.
The Combate Global schedule will continue Friday on Paramount+ with five fights from La Jaula in Miami. Ivan Tena is a 23-year-old featherweight who looks like one of the best prospects in the promotion after earning three knockout victories and one submission win in his first four fights. He’ll take on Mexican fighter Roberto Romero in a USA vs. Mexico showdown in the 145-pound division. You can stream the action live on Paramount+.
The co-main event will feature Chile’s Valentina Escobar (1-0) against Mexico’s Yazmin Najera in a fight at 120 pounds. Another bout on the Combate Global fight card will feature a pair of veteran featherweights as Carlos Rivera (14-6) takes on Landry Ward (5-1). The Combate Global fight card begins at 10:30 p.m. ET and you can catch all the action live on Paramount+.
Paramount+ now has two levels of membership so you can watch Combate and much more. The Premium Plan is $9.99 per month and you can watch your local CBS live stream, including plenty of sports like Champions League, Italian Serie A, college hoops, and the PGA Tour, with no ads, on-demand and the ability to download episodes for offline viewing. Plus, watch the highly-anticipated series Halo, Picard, 1883, and more. Both plans come with a free week to start. Paramount+ will even give you a free week to start, so sign up now here.
Before tuning in to Friday’s Combate Global fight card, you need to see the picks from SportsLine’s MMA insider Andrew Gombas. With more than 1,400 selections tracked by the third-party monitoring service Bet MMA, he has shown a 6 percent return on investment for his followers. Over the past two years, his followers have netted a profit of more than $10,000.
For Friday’s card, Gombas is picking Tena to defeat Romero to stay unbeaten and continue his rise up the featherweight ranks. Tena is a recent Arizona State graduate who trains out of MMA Lab and has finished all four of his professional fights in the first or second round. Romero is coming off a draw against Zed Montanez in his last fight.
“This is a fantastic main event for the Combate USA vs. Mexico card. Ivan Tena is one of the prospects in Combate who I hold in high regard. Roberto Romero is known for an exciting fighting style and has a bright future as well. I have to side with Tena. He is a slick finisher who punishes his opponents for making mistakes. I think he gets another finish,” Gombas told SportsLine. Stream the card on Paramount+ now.
Quarterback Danny Etling scored a 51-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of Friday’s preseason victory over the New Orleans Saints, yet the highlight of the play wasn’t the touchdown run itself — but who was on air when the play occurred. Etling took the snap and ran to his right untouched for the touchdown with Aaron Rodgers being interviewed mid-game.
Needless to say, Rodgers was pretty excited when Etling — the third-string quarterback — had the big play for the score.
“What did I tell ya. What did I tell ya. What did I tell ya,” Rodgers said as he clapped his hands and smiled. “Yeah baby, I love it. I love it.”
This isn’t the first time Etling ran a naked bootleg and scored on a long touchdown run. Etling scored on an 86-yard touchdown run on a naked bootleg to his right during his time with the New England Patriots in 2018 — and this touchdown looked eerily similar. In fact, Rodgers was complimenting Etling’s athleticism and reminiscing about that very run minutes before he took off for the score Friday night.
Etling has bounced around the league, being waived and signed by the Patriots, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks several times. Etling also was on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, the Denver Broncos practice squad, the Packers practice squad and the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. He actually was assigned to the Packers practice squad and later signed by the Jaguars and assigned to their practice squad last December.
Overall, Etling has been involved in 27 transactions since entering the league in 2018 — yet has never played a regular season snap in the NFL.
For one night, the former seventh-round quarterback from LSU recaptured his rookie year magic. No one at Lambeau Field may have been happier than Rodgers.
Current Records: Nottingham Forest 1-1; Everton 0-2
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What to Know
Everton will look to defend their home turf on Saturday against Nottingham Forest at 10 a.m. ET.
This past Saturday, Everton fell a goal shy of Aston Villa, losing 2-1. That was Everton’s second consecutive one-goal defeat against Villa.
Speaking of close games: Nottingham Forest won by a goal, slipping past West Ham United 1-0. The Nottingham Forest offense checked out after the first half but had enough goals banked to take the contest anyway.
Nottingham Forest’s victory lifted them to 1-1 (10th place with three points) while Everton’s loss dropped them down to 0-2 (18th place with zero points). We’ll see if Nottingham Forest can repeat their recent success or if Everton bounces back and reverse their fortune.
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