PGA Tour’s ‘nanny’ approach being exposed as a liability by Saudi event

The term ‘nanny state’ is widely credited to Iain Macleod, a member of the British parliament who felt the government was unduly overprotective and shielded people from the consequences of their own actions. Macleod died in 1970, so he didn’t live to see his notional concept perfected by a succession of executives in faraway Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

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Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman getting a cool reception at the major they’re not attending.

Thirteen years after he last competed in one, major championships are still proving a reliable source of disappointment for Greg Norman. At last month’s Masters, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley clearly signaled his support for golf’s existing world order, thereby tacitly rejecting Norman’s Saudi-funded effort to carve off the top of the professional game. On Tuesday at the PGA Championship, the Great White Pilot Fish was served even less nourishment.

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At Augusta National, even Fred Ridley’s non-answers carry a clear message.

Pedants will tell you that Augusta National is a property, not a governing body, a depthless observation that is equally true of the White House, Downing Street and the Élysée Palace. Augusta National is golf’s real seat of power, not only in the public imagination but in its ability to set priorities and effect change. This is why the closest thing our sport has to a State of the Union address comes Wednesday of Masters Week, when the club’s sitting chairman offers prepared remarks to the media before fielding questions on pressing issues in the game.

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Jay Monahan has an edge on his Saudi rivals, but more forced change lies ahead.

Success stories in sport often owe as much to the ineptitude of the vanquished as to the brilliance of the victor. When future generations of Tweeters analyze the past few years in golf, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will be credited for deft backroom diplomacy in building crucial alliances both public (key players) and private (Chairman Ridley). Yet a thorough accounting should note the extent to which Monahan has benefitted from the bumbling of those pushing a Saudi-financed rival league, a mutiny of clowns that could make Bozo seem Churchillian by comparison.

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Apologies are a test of character, and Phil Mickelson’s revealed his.

Legend has it that Marcus Licinius Crassus of Rome was killed by the mutineering men he’d led into a failed battle, who poured molten gold down their leader’s throat in mockery of his thirst for wealth. Philip Alfred Mickelson of Rancho Santa Fe, on the other hand, was merely deserted by his bootless troops as the cause in which he had conscripted them slipped away. As for the symbolic choking on needless greed, he served and swallowed that ruinous cocktail himself.

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Phil Mickelson’s mouth has brought him — and his greedy Saudi scheme — to the brink of ruin

An old adage—often wrongly attributed to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”—holds that if you wait by the riverbank long enough, the bodies of your enemies will eventually float by. That’s as good a metaphor as any for how some golf industry executives must have felt in the wake of recent comments by Phil Mickelson that incinerated his reputation, alienated most every constituency in the game, exposed him to disciplinary action, and otherwise cast him in a light so unflatteringly amoral that even Greg Norman might hesitate to be seen in his company.

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Phil Mickelson cares about rights; just not the rights abused by his Saudi pals

It’s difficult to ascertain exactly which character trait—Hubris? Hypocrisy? Indecency?—motivates someone to furiously demand the freedom to exercise his rights while being applauded by benefactors from a regime that dismembers its critics for doing just that. Or to pause his guzzling from the teat of Middle Eastern royalty only long enough to denounce the “obnoxious greed” of an organization that made him an enormous sum of money (which is not to presume he still has it).

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PGA Tour Should Concede Waivers Battle For Sake Of Bigger War—Against A Saudi Takeover.

The PGA Tour has a month to decide whether to remain focused on a game of cat and mouse it is positioned to win, or instead be suckered into a game of chicken it would almost certainly lose.

Until January 4, to be exact—30 days out from the first round of the Saudi International, by which point it must decide whether to grant releases to members who want to compete in the Kingdom.

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Brooks Vs. Bryson Showdown In Vegas A Bust For Fans, But Not For The PGA Tour.

Las Vegas exists to distort reality, whether briefly enough to separate cocksure gamblers from their chip stacks or long enough to market a bejeweled Liberace as every housewife’s dream. So it was with The Match, in which two men who share a genuine antipathy circled each other like a pair of chummy middle managers at a company holiday party, exchanging compliments that made up in diplomacy what they lacked in sincerity, and betraying nothing more belligerent than an eye-roll.

Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka conducted themselves as any two strangers randomly paired for a Friday game might, piloting separate carts and saying little beyond “Nice putt” and “That’s good.” The last time Vegas witnessed two high-profile men be so taciturn about their common business, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky were running the Strip.

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Mickelson’s Latest Swipe At USGA Is All About Grandstanding.

For someone who just a few years ago was perilously proximate to a federal insider trading prosecution, Phil Mickelson has developed a commendable interest in regulatory processes.

This week he’s been in a Twitter snit about a new rule announced by the game’s governing bodies that would reduce the maximum length of a club from 48 inches to 46. That’s about 1.5 inches shorter than Mickelson’s typical gamer driver and shorter still than one he used to win a sixth major championship in May.

“Stupid is as stupid does,” he acerbically tweeted, echoing a well-worn adage from Forrest Gump’s momma. “Really though, are the amateurs trying their best to govern the professional game the stupid ones? Or the professionals for letting them?”

Who among us can’t empathize with an aging stag shorn of shaft length as he tries to keep up with the young bucks? But note how Mickelson repeatedly disparages the governing body’s staff as stupid people doing stupid things. You’d be forgiven for assuming it must have been the USGA’s CEO, Mike Whan, who was taken for $500,000 by a mobbed-up Michigan bookie, or that it was his secretary who hit a moving ball in a U.S. Open then tried to brazen it out as clever strategy.

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U.S. Needs Steve Stricker To Use Picks To Buck Buddy System That Made Him Captain.

By the time Steve Stricker makes his Ryder Cup captain’s picks after next week’s Tour Championship, the COVID-compromised qualification process to determine his troops will have lasted longer than the Siege of Leningrad—924 days to be exact. But Stricker will be announcing more than just six additional names on his roster. His choices will reveal whether the U.S. is investing in its future stars or remains hostage to a faded legend who isn’t eager to cede center stage.

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Missteps by Mickelson and DeChambeau Expose Attitude That Media Exists To Flatter.

The relationship between professional athletes and the press is fraught by its very nature, moreso in the wake of Naomi Osaka suggesting that media questioning is injurious to her mental health. However, at this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic, two of golf’s biggest stars seemed more concerned about damage to their pride and ego.

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Clandestine Kiawah Meeting Could Be Saudis’ Waterloo.

The Crown Prince is nothing if not opportunistic, whether waiting until a dissident journalist enters the Istanbul consulate to have him dismembered or choosing an event with 20 club pros in the field to make his final pitch promising top players that they don’t have to share riches with also-rans.

On the eve of the 103rd PGA Championship, the chatter at Kiawah Island is less about potential winners of the year’s second major than a possible splintering of the (men’s) game if a sufficient number of elite players sign-on with the Saudi-financed Super League Golf for fees reported at $30 million or more. It’s a controversial concept that rumbled along for years in near-secrecy without gaining traction, but which seems now to be hurtling toward the decisive moment like an executioner’s sulthan.

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The Match II: A Shark-Free Affair

It’s been 25 years since Medalist Golf Club last appeared on national television, when Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf pitted then-world No. 1 Nick Price against Greg Norman, the world No. 2 and founder of the newly opened club.

On May 24, the exclusive Florida enclave hosts another made-for-TV affair with Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning taking on Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady to raise funds for COVID-19 relief.

Just don’t expect to see Greg Norman anywhere.

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Ryder Cup Buddy System Rides Again

It was after the 2014 Ryder Cup debacle in Scotland — a week during which Phil Mickelson’s most effective shots came during the losing team’s press conference when he targeted skipper Tom Watson — that the American team decided to crowdsource the captaincy.

The PGA of America created an oft-mocked task force to reverse U.S. fortunes in the biennial event. Another undeclared objective was to ensure that future players wouldn’t be denied hugs or high fives from some grizzled legend who thought the only inspiration they needed was to see the Stars & Stripes run up the pole.

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U.S. Ryder Cup captain, Steve Stricker.

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