“Second-biggest story in golf this week is over in London,” said the reporter.
“Yeah,” said Steve Stricker.
And that’s how most of these exchanges have gone. Questions to players about the upstart, Saudi-funded, LIV Golf Invitational Series, which kicked off play this week in England. And players’ reluctance to respond. You heard as much on the PGA Tour this week, when a reporter, quite politely, began his interrogation with: “Sorry for being the guy who is going to ask this question” — to which Justin Thomas answered: “I knew it was coming.”
None of this, of course, is too difficult to understand. You know where the money is coming from and why it’s being spent. You also know the decision players offered to join have to make. Then there are those who stick with the established product, only to see other players, in many cases friends, bolt. Thomas talked of this, too, when, referring to Dustin Johnson, said: “I don’t dislike D.J. now. I don’t think he’s a bad dude. I’m not going to treat him any differently.”
Stricker’s perspective — after some follow-up questions — is unique here, though. He knows the current generation, or at least has studied it, as part of Ryder Cup captain duties last fall. He’s only slightly older — Stricker is 55 — than the 45-and-older set who have bounced over to LIV for one last significant payday. He’s seen some things, too.
We mean not to drudge up the past. But for a while in the early 2000s, as Stricker lost his Tour card and slipped deep into the world-ranking triple digits, you’d think he probably once wondered where LIV, with its guaranteed money, was in his day. To be fair, and to complete this lookback, Stricker eventually found his way back, won eight times from 2007 to 2012 and played on three Ryder Cup and five Presidents Cup teams.
So yeah, his point of view is at least worth a listen, maybe more so than any player. Oh, and he’s also typically articulate, which he was to reporters this week at the American Family Insurance Championship, the 50-and-over-circuit event he hosts in his home state of Wisconsin.
Stricker was asked two questions on the subject, though spoke for minutes.
“And I’m wondering what your overall thoughts are about what’s going on. Seems like there’s some kind of development almost by the hour with that LIV Golf,” said the reporter.
“Yeah, it does. Yeah, it’s a crazy time in the world of golf, isn’t it?
“I really don’t know what to think about it. We’ve talked about it, [wife] Nicki and I and Mario [Tiziani, his brother-in-law] and my family, we’ve talked about it a lot and if I was put in that position, what would I do kind of thing