ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg on coverage of the LIV Golf Championship

Whereas the drama revolves across the new PGA and LIV Golf Event, ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg joins in from London to rapidly get Bryan Curtis on board. They talk about how LIV Golf got here to be, why this story issues, why the PGA faces an “existential risk” and why LIV Golf is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.


Within the following excerpt, Curtis asks Van Valkenburg to border the risk LIV poses to the PGA.

Brian Curtis: She referred to as LIV on ESPN, which is a critical risk to the PGA Tour. How critical do you suppose?

Kevin Van Valkenburg: Nicely, if you consider: If the highest 50 gamers on the planet do not play each week on the PGA Tour and each week it is principally Sanderson Farms, 3M, or John Deere, how precious is that this as a productive TV? It will most likely be very tough, proper? Among the most watched tournaments of the yr are those the place all the great gamers are. The Genesis, which takes place on the Riviera Nation Membership in Los Angeles, as a result of one of the best gamers are proper there. Monument, virtually all gamers are there. When you flip Memorial and Genesis into what minor leagues are actually, I do not know the way the product continues in some ways, proper? As a result of if issues that get a ranking of two.1 now get a ranking of 0.8, man, what sort of enterprise wouldn’t it be — what firms would wish to stream on that?

And so I believe the PGA Tour is going through an enormous existential risk proper now. And I do not know find out how to advise Jay Monahan to repair it. His message is type of saying, “Nicely everybody who left did it for cash and cash and cash. We’re greater than that.” I do not know that is the fitting argument to make, as a result of if I have been Justin Thomas or Rory McIlroy, I would love – Rory McIlroy He’s one in all my favourite athletes and has spoken frankly about this, saying, “Morality is extra vital than cash. How far more may that be—how a lot cash would you want?” I do not know this argument would play out with individuals who aren’t Rory McIlroy, As a result of in spite of everything, $200 million looks like lots. Tiger made solely $121 million in his PGA profession. Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, they received a lot greater than that in a single day. Extra realistically, by agreeing to play all two years, that is why they get a lot cash.

Curtis: absolutely. I imply, you say the highest 50, however what’s attention-grabbing is the quantity, the share that has to interrupt out of the highest 50 earlier than somebody activates a giant match and says, “I do not really feel like one of the best participant on the planet is right here, or many of the finest gamers within the scientist “?

Van Valkenburg: sure. Golf has all the time been an odd place as a result of the principle factor we take pleasure in each week of our lives has all the time been the PGA Tour. However the PGA Tour would not management any of the important thing areas, which is the one factor that is actually vital traditionally and the one purpose we’re actually watching. No one cares an excessive amount of about what number of common season championships you’ve got gained. I wager most individuals cannot inform you what number of common season championships Jack Nicklaus has gained, however they’ll inform you in a second that he gained 18 majors. And so if the Majors simply type of maintain considering like, ‘Yeah, what, that is an issue for you, not an issue for us. You do not have to fret about something,’ I am undecided about the way forward for the tour. How do they make themselves considerably extra engaging?

And I tweeted a protracted thread about it, however the PGA Tour, when it was based, was a for-profit entity, and Dean Peyman, the second commissioner, got here in, and turned it right into a nonprofit. And he did this as a result of he realized – since his background was in insurance coverage, as a result of on the time not solely skilled golfers had golf jobs, but in addition needed to get different jobs – that the tour may pay a lot much less tax in the event that they have been 501(c) ( 6). Nicely, this was a genius transfer for 40 years of Tour historical past as a result of the tax burden has been lowered. Anybody who has sponsored a match like Farmers or Genesis or anybody can take an enormous write-off by saying, “I will put $20 million into sponsoring this match and I will cut back the tax burden by $20 million.”

Nicely, there are legal guidelines that state what nonprofits can and can’t do with their cash. So the PGA Tour has discovered itself in a little bit of a shambles with regards to simply handing out cash to prime gamers, based totally on look charges. LIV was sitting right here saying, “Hey, we will provide you with $10 million to point out up.” And the PGA Tour was saying, “We’ll provide you with one million based mostly on a participant affect program that’s decided partially by the variety of visitors you get from Google,” as a result of that is how they need to legally body it. Then LIV mentioned, “You understand what, we will do 50 million,” and simply the PGA Tour — how do you reply to a corporation that has some huge cash legitimately shedding $2 billion or by no means making a revenue for the blink of a watch to them, is sort of an approximation of error? Which is why it is a big type of potential crack for the way forward for skilled golf in America, no less than.

Host: Brian Curtis
Producer: Troy Farkas

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