PGA Rivals Welcome LIV Golfers to Masters


Reigning British Open champion Cameron Smith and two-time major winner Dustin Johnson were warmly welcomed by their PGA rivals in the first practice of the 87th Masters tournament on Monday. The golfers from LIV, the Saudi-backed upstart, had expected a harsher reception given strained relations between the two organizations. Smith was pleasantly surprised at the friendly atmosphere on the range, saying that there was lots of laughter, handshakes and smiles. He noted that the inclusion of LIV Golf players for the major tournament was a show of unity for the game. Johnson, who won the 2016 US Open and the 2020 Masters, similarly commented that his friends in the PGA remained his buddies regardless of the tour they played in.

The reception was backed up by US countrymen Kevin Kisner, Brian Harman and Gary Woodland. Harman again reiterated his belief that players had better things to worry about than rivalry between PGA and LIV, while Johnson added that his lack of practice fitted him just fine. Abraham Ancer, Mexico’s top golfer who won February’s 72-hole Saudi Invitational, also expressed his happiness at seeing familiar faces. Meanwhile, Bryson DeChambeau—the 2020 US Open champion—said that he was greeted with tight hugs by defending Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and received a positive reception from the public.

All the golfers are all hoping for a shot at the Masters trophy; for US rival Kevin Na, the heated yet friendly rivalry between PGA and LIV could make for more interesting viewing. While Rory McIlroy is looking to join the Grand Slam by winning his first Masters title, legend Tiger Woods is hoping to add another notch to his 15 major wins. Woods, who is still recovering from injuries sustained from a 2021 car crash, looks to be in good form according to Fred Couples who has observed him on the range.

LIV Golf is a Saudi-backed startup that was founded by Sheikh Mohamed bin Salman, the son of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. Its goal is to promote the nation’s golf commerce, seen in its regular trips to the Middle East and its recently launched LIV World Championship. The promising upstart organization has injected some excitement in the golf world, with its oil-fuelled cash prize and its exclusive tournaments. It will certainly be interesting to see how LIV Golfers perform in the upcoming Masters tournament and if they can stand toe-to-toe against their PGA counterparts.