December 20, 2022
After not taking part in the 2022 Masters after which committing to LIV Golf, Phil Mickelson will certainly be invited to return to Augusta Nationwide in April.
Augusta Nationwide doesn’t do December statements however, as with all different oddities of 2022, right here…we…are. LIV golfers will certainly be allowed to play within the 2023 Masters, Augusta Nationwide introduced Tuesday. You’ll be able to exhale now, for those who had been nonetheless holding your breath.
ANGC Chairman Fred Ridley launched an announcement, right here within the waning days of 2022, essentially the most chaotic yr in skilled golf historical past. It mentioned a variety of issues however chief amongst them was that gamers who’ve certified for the upcoming Masters by way of its typical, historic standards can be invited to play in subsequent yr’s occasion. Phil Mickelson, you’re in. Bubba Watson, you too. Sergio Garcia, congrats. Even Kevin Na.
Hopefully you weren’t holding your breath, although. The fashionable Augusta Nationwide does most issues in its personal greatest curiosity, or the most effective curiosity of the game, and it was by no means within the membership’s greatest curiosity to bar a few of the greatest golfers on the planet from competing. Even the only clarification works: To be within the dialogue because the world’s greatest event, you want as sturdy a discipline as doable.
To ban LIV golfers would require breaking from kind. It will require making new guidelines. It will require further statements. Augusta Nationwide must be nimble and transfer shortly, which isn’t within the membership’s DNA. It will require ANGC to candidly choose a aspect in a (extraordinarily litigious) struggle not of its personal making. Why do this? ANGC would quite keep the established order, which is to play host the largest golf event on this planet, inviting gamers beneath these classes:
Augusta Nationwide scolds LIV defectors, stops wanting Masters ban
-Rank within the high 50 on this planet at yr’s finish
-Win a PGA Tour occasion, or attain the Tour championship
-Win a serious within the final 5 years, or end within the high 4 final yr
-Win any of some, particular beginner occasions
-Win our occasion, or end within the high 12 from final yr
-Rank within the high 50 on March 27
Because it stands, 16 gamers from the LIV Golf League can be on the Masters in April. The quantity isn’t prone to improve by extra LIV golfers taking part in effectively (although Paul Casey successful the Saudi Worldwide is believable), however extra so if the league can appeal to extra high 50 expertise. And it simply would possibly. We’ll fear about that subsequent month. For now, it’s price noting that Augusta Nationwide feeling compelled to launch an announcement is uniquely a 2022 situation. The dialog among the many greatest names in golf necessitated it.
In July, there was Tiger Woods taking a cue from a reporter and diving deep into hypotheticals:
“A few of these gamers could not ever get an opportunity to play in main championships. That could be a risk. We don’t know that for certain but. It’s as much as all the key championship our bodies to make that dedication. However that may be a risk, that some gamers won’t ever, ever get an opportunity to play in a serious championship, by no means get an opportunity to expertise this proper right here, stroll down the fairways at Augusta Nationwide.”
In September, Bubba Watson mentioned he sat his kids down and instructed them “there’s a probability, there’s a risk, that we are able to’t go to Augusta.” Did Bubba know one thing we didn’t?
In October, Cameron Smith stoked hearth whereas stating the plain to ABC Grandstand: “I’m hopeful that I’ll be capable of get again there. It’s a spot that I really like and I’ve obtained a fairly good report round there too. It will be heartbreaking if I couldn’t get again there.”
The press has helped prop up these storylines as a result of, effectively, it’s a juicy concept! But in addition as a result of it appeared in courtroom paperwork. LIV has alleged that representatives from the membership have, on a number of events, threatened ramifications towards gamers who decide to LIV Golf, inclusive of disinviting them from future tournaments. If these threats had been actual, we’ll discover out about it within the Northern District Courtroom of California, a spot Augusta Nationwide would usually want to keep away from. The membership already a part of a Division of Justice investigation for anticompetitive practices. Banning LIV’ers now would current solely a hardened stance in a battle they didn’t ask for.
And to be clear, it’s okay for ANGC to have a stance. It ought to have a stance, as one of many governing our bodies within the recreation. Fred Ridley made this clear final April (earlier than LIV Golf launched) and added extra to it with Tuesday’s third paragraph:
“Regrettably, current actions have divided males’s skilled golf by diminishing the virtues of the sport and the significant legacies of those that constructed it. Though we’re dissatisfied in these developments, our focus is to honor the custom of bringing collectively a preeminent discipline of golfers this coming April.”
The event is extra essential than anything, Ridley’s saying. At the least for now. He’s saying, We’re doing it. We’re shifting ahead. We’ll name the photographs for 2024, too. Issues can be completely different then, and we’ll wait to determine that out. Perhaps it’ll come by way of one other December assertion 12 months from now. Augusta Nationwide is taking issues one little step at a time, which solely ends in its event gaining significance.
The subsequent time Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson share a golf course can be in April, in japanese Georgia. It’s the one place you’ll see Tiger alongside Sergio Garcia, too, pending the latter’s capacity to qualify for U.S. and British Opens. As a matter of peacemaking, Scottie Scheffler higher give attention to that Champions Dinner menu.
The 2023 Masters is the subsequent alternative for Rory McIlroy to measurement up his recreation towards Dustin Johnson and Cam Smith and Joaquin Niemann. Bryson, too. It’s the one discussion board on the planet (social media included), the place we’ll line up Jordan Spieth’s opinions alongside Brooks Koepka’s and Max Homa’s and Patrick Reed’s. If you happen to assume Augusta, Ga., holds our consideration each April, simply wait.
The writer welcomes your feedback, issues, and some other notes at [email protected].