Players belonging to the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which was launched with capital from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, cannot participate in the PGA Tour. But major tournaments are an exception. This is because it is not an event hosted by the PGA Tour. As a result, players have to endure ‘uncomfortable cohabitation’. However, the confrontation between PGA Tour players and LIV series players adds to the fun of watching for golf fans.
Players from both sides will engage in a second showdown of pride following the Masters. The stage is the major PGA Championship, which opens on the 18th (Korean time) at Oak Hill Country Club (par 70, 7394 yards) in Rochester, New York, USA. Unfortunately, from the first and second rounds, the two sides faced each other. World No. 1 Yon Ram (29, Spain), who won the Masters this year, was tied in the same group as Cameron Smith (30, Australia) of LIV. Smith, the winner of last year’s Major D Open, was on the PGA Tour at the time, but later moved to LIV. In addition, Matt Fitzpatrick (29, England), the winner of the US Open in June of last year, added the match between major champions. Ram is the strongest candidate to win this tournament. He has won 4 wins this season, including the Masters, and is running first in the FedEx Cup points and prize money races.
World No. 2 Scotty Scheffler (27) will play against LIV’s leading stars, ‘Major Hunter’ Brooks Koepka (33) and Gary Woodland (39, USA). During his PGA Tour career, Koepka won 4 out of 8 wins in major tournaments, and showed a particularly strong side in major tournaments, such as runner-up in the Masters and US Open, and a tie for 4th in the Open. Moreover, he won the PGA Championship twice in a row from 2018 to 2019, and in the Masters last month, he competed for the championship 안전놀이터 with Jon Lam, and the shot feeling was good enough to come in second place, so fierce competition with PGA Tour players is expected. Schaeffler ranked first in the power rankings, a candidate to win this tournament, followed by Ram in second and Koepka in third. Schaeffler finished in the top 10 in 9 out of 13 tournaments this season and won 2 victories, including the ‘fifth major’ Players Championship. World No. 3 Rory McIlroy (34, Northern Ireland) plays in the same group as defending champion Justin Thomas (30) and 2020 champion Colin Morikawa (25). In addition, Patrick Cantley (31), ranked 4th in the world, tied up with Phil Mickelson (53, USA), the sign of LIV Golf and the winner of this tournament in 2021, to engage in a battle of pride.
As for Korean players, Lim Seong-jae (25), Kim Si-woo (28), Lee Gyeong-hoon (32, CJ Logistics), Kim Joo-hyung (21), and 2009 champion Yang Yong-eun (51) will participate. On the 14th, Im Seong-jae won the Korea Professional Golf (KPGA) Korean Tour Woori Financial Championship by playing a dramatic drama that overturned the inferiority by 5 strokes, and his morale was up. He missed the cut only once in 17 competitions this season and is expected to enter the top ranks as he maintains a stable shot feeling enough to record the top 10 seven times. Attention is focusing on whether Kim Si-woo, who finished runner-up last week at AT&T Byron Nelson on the PGA Tour, will continue his upward trend.