ATLANTA — Former world No. 1 Lee Westwood said he only could laugh at the sweeping changes the PGA Tour announced Wednesday in response to the growing threat of LIV Golf.
Westwood, who was among the first PGA Tour members to defect to the Saudi Arabian-financed LIV Golf Invitational Series, said his former tour is borrowing a lot of ideas from his new one.
“I laugh at what the PGA Tour players have come up with,” Westwood told Golf Digest in an interview published Thursday. “It’s just a copy of what LIV is doing. There are a lot of hypocrites out there. They all say LIV is not competitive. They all point at the no-cut aspect of LIV and the short fields.”
On Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced that the PGA Tour’s top players had committed to compete in at least 20 tournaments, including 13 elevated events that will have average purses of $20 million.
Unlike LIV Golf events, most PGA Tour tournaments are 72 holes and have 36-hole cuts. LIV Golf events are 54 holes with no cuts.
“Now, funnily enough, they are proposing 20 events that look a lot like LIV,” Westwood said. “Hopefully, at some point they will all choke on their words. And hopefully, they will be held to account as we were in the early days.”
Monahan has suspended more than two dozen PGA Tour players, including past major champions Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, for competing in LIV tournaments without conflicting-event releases from the PGA Tour.
Westwood, who in 2010 became the first British golfer since Nick Faldo to hold the No. 1 position in the Official World Golf Ranking, also criticized the PGA Tour for how it has treated the DP World Tour, in which he was also a member. The PGA Tour and DP World have a strategic alliance; the DP World Tour also suspended and fined its members for playing in LIV Golf events.
“I’m not convinced by the strategic alliance because I’ve seen how the PGA Tour has behaved over the years,” Westwood said. “There’s not much ‘give.’ They have always been bullies and now they are getting their comeuppance. All the PGA Tour has done since Tiger [Woods] came on tour is up the prize purses. In turn, that has taken all the best players from Europe away from the European Tour. They’ve had to play in the States, taking all their world ranking points with them. That was their strategy: ‘Put up the money. Get all the players. Hog all the world ranking points.’ Which becomes self-perpetuating. What we have seen over the last few months is just LIV doing what the PGA Tour has done for the last 25 years.”