PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf: Daniel Summerhayes weighs in on the former league

What’s happening in professional golf these days is heartbreaking for Utah native Daniel Summerhayes, a former BYU Golf All-American who earned nearly $9 million on the PGA Tour before stepping away from playing full-time in 2020.

“It pains me to see all these great players going in different directions,” Summers told Deseret News on Sunday, a few hours after fellow Utah teammate Tony Fino finished second to Rory McIlroy at the RBC Canadian Open. The star-studded PGA Tour events in recent memory.

However, Summerhays says long-term he believes “competition can make the product better” and that the PGA Tour will come out of the “challenge” of LIV Golf which is a better organization and tour because of that.

“While I don’t really like seeing some of the best players in the world split in different places, I really think the PGA Tour will be a better product for the players, fans and sponsors because of (the competition).” — Former PGA Tour (PGA Tour) Daniel Summerhayes

“While I don’t really like seeing some of the best players in the world split in different places, I really think the PGA Tour will be a better product for players, fans and sponsors because of (the competition) I think the competitive nature (of the new competition) will bring out the best, if That was logical.”

Of course, Summerhayes, 38, was referring to the controversy that has gripped professional golf for the past several months: an upstart pro golf course financed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and officially called the LIV Golf International Series has drawn in many golfers. Famous away on the PGA Tour, which has been the highest level in professional golf for nearly a century.

Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Pat Perez, Kevin Na, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Bryson DeChambeau have joined, or will be joining soon, among others. Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is rumored to be thinking about it, too.

Johnson, 37, number 15 in the official golf rankings, reportedly received $125 million from LIV to leave the PGA Tour and play in eight events per year over the next four years. He is the highest rated player to date to have made the move.

Mickelson, despite being 51, will get $200 million to break LIV Golf, which has drawn significant criticism for the widespread human rights abuses allegedly committed by the government of Saudi Arabia. Mickelson defended his decision again Monday at an open US press conference in Brooklyn, Massachusetts.

“It allows me more balance in my life. It allows me to do things off the golf course which I have always wanted to do.” “I prioritize those who are important to me, the people who are important to me moving forward. This allows me to have more time with them and be more present.”

Despite the split, the aforementioned stars will play this week’s US Open at The Country Club near Boston, because the US Open is sponsored by the US Golf Association and not the PGA Tour. It must have been a fun and tense encounter, especially after PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan went on CBS TV for the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday and described the Saudi-funded league as “a series of show matches” and accused it of spending billions of dollars on players without getting a return on their investment.

PGA Tour officials say LIV Golf is a “sports wash” attempt by the Saudi government to wash its reputation through golf.

Monahan said, three days after the 17 members of the PGA Tour who competed in the opening ceremony won by Charles Schwarzl at the Centurion Club outside London were suspended. Schwarzel received $4.75 million to win.

Meanwhile, McIlroy and third-placed Justin Thomas also took shots at LIV Golf, specifically Commissioner Greg Norman, who won 20 PGA Tours.

“This is a day I will remember for a long time,” McIlroy said. “He won the 21st PGA Tour, one win more than someone else (Norman). It gave me a little extra motivation today and I’m happy to have done it.”

Utah’s Finaw, who earned $948,000 for second place, was apparently not asked about LIV Golf by reporters in Toronto after his best championship of the 2021-22 season. Summerhays’ brother Boyd is Finau’s swing coach, but Daniel Summerhays said he had “no idea” what kind of position Finau had in the new golf league.

“I didn’t talk to him about it at all,” Daniel Summerhayes said.

Finau recently told Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harrig that he had been contacted by LIV Golf, largely repeating what he told Golf Monthly last January.

“The competition will always be there at any level of any sport,” Finau told SI. “Now we’re seeing that in golf. Whether that’s a good or bad thing will be up to (personal) opinion. But competition is normal. It’s a positive thing. There’s a lot of talk about it.”

“It’s something my team and I are still looking at and what it looks like to us,” Finau continued. “It’s normal to have competition in sports and that’s what we’re seeing now with LIV Golf.”

Summerhayes, who became a volunteer assistant coach for the BYU men’s golf team in January but has not decided whether to continue in that role next year, said McIlroy and Thomas are understandably more upset with the new league than he is because he did not participate. Tour for several years. Still, he sees a lot of problems with the LIV Golf.

“When you have a consistent pitch every week, and there’s no play or play, it’s not great,” Summerhayes said. “I mean, you had guys last week (at the LIV) shooting about 30 above par. And you don’t have to compete for your place every week. I think the quality of golf can deteriorate.”

Summerhays believes the PGA Tour will continue to be the number one golf tour in the world.

“The PGA Tour produces the best players in the world because it is very competitive from week to week, and it is a merit rather than a monopoly,” he said. “I think they got that advantage because they know the cream is actually going to go up on the PGA Tour, rather than maybe on the LIV Tour, which is just a little travel group of the show matches, (which is) the way Jay Monahan said today.”

Would Summerhays consider joining LIV Golf if this happened six years ago, when he was at the peak of his career?

“I have to think about it,” he said. “Financially it’s definitely a good idea to not worry about anything again, really, and frankly, if you play well and sign a guaranteed contract. But at the same time, there’s a little bit of motivation inside you that suggests you don’t necessarily want it easy.”

Summerhays, who finished third in the PGA Championship and tied for eighth at the US Open in 2016, said he remains a strong believer in the PGA Tour’s charitable efforts and hopes it never changes as portfolios and fields are scrutinized like never before.

“The PGA Tour does a lot in every community you go to,” he said. “I don’t know the exact numbers, but I read something a few years ago that the PGA Tour donated more to charity than all other professional sports combined. That’s a big deal.

He continued, “The round has exceeded two billion dollars in charitable donations.” “I think people sometimes forget that it’s a non-profit organization that does a lot of good. That’s kind of the purpose of it, and it’s an amazing role model. So it’s going to be hard to leave.”

Professional golfers Daniel Summerhayes and Tony Fino shake hands before playing a scramble Saturday, June 13, 2015, at Nibley Park Golf Course in Salt Lake City. Summerhays played with his son Jack and Finau played with Grace Summerhays, daughter of Boyd Summerhays.

Scott J Winterton, The Desert News

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