Top golfers sound off on Saudi-backed Super Golf League at Genesis Invitational

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The Genesis Invitational signage at Riviera Country Club on Wednesday. (Jelah Anderson/Medill Reports)

By Lauralys Shallow
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES — There’s another league emerging in professional golf, and the Super Golf League wants to lure the top players in the world away from the PGA Tour. 

World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman is spearheading the Super Golf League through his company LIV Golf Investments, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, according to Fox Sports. The Super Golf League plans to start in September, according to CBC Sports, and a few of the top-ranked PGA Tour players shared their stance on the league during Genesis Invitational media availability on Tuesday and Wednesday at Riviera Country Club.

Rory McIlroy, ranked fifth in the world, showed his disdain for the Saudi-backed league, describing it as the “not so super league” on Wednesday. 

“I’m so sick of it,” said McIlroy, the current chairman of the PGA Tour’s Players Advisory Council.  

At the moment, no golfer has publicly committed to the Super Golf League, and McIlroy does not think moving away from the PGA Tour is a good idea for younger golfers.

“Certainly for the younger guys, it just seems like a massive risk,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy was not the only golfer who took a skeptical stance on the Super Golf League. The top-ranked golfer in the world, Jon Rahm, expressed his allegiance to the PGA Tour.

“I take this time to say that this is my official, my one and only time I’ll talk about this where I am officially declaring, let’s say, my affiliation to the PGA Tour,” Rahm said. “There has been a lot of talk and speculation on the Saudi league. It’s just not something I believe is the best for me and my future in golf, and I think the best legacy I can accomplish will be with the PGA Tour.”

The biggest draw for the players to join the Super Golf League is the financial compensation. According to The Telegraph, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau were offered $30 million to $50 million. But the money does not appeal to Rahm.

“I’ve said it many times in press conferences before: I don’t do this for the money, which to me is the only appeal to go over there,” Rahm said. “They throw numbers at you, and that’s supposed to impress people. I’m in this game for the love of golf and the love of the game and to become a champion, right? I grew up watching many great players play great events such as this one, and there’s history and legacy to those things. That’s something that has a lot of appeal to me.”

Collin Morikawa, ranked second in the world, said Tuesday that he was offered money from the Super Golf League, but he sees his career on the PGA Tour.

“As it goes to the Saudi stuff, I’m all for the PGA Tour,” Morikawa said. “I’ve been a pro for two and a half years. My entire life I’ve thought about the PGA Tour. I’ve thought about playing against Tiger (Woods), beating his records, whatever, something that might not even be breakable, but I’ve never had another thought of what’s out there. …  Right now, you look at the best players that I see, and they’re all sticking with the PGA Tour, and that’s where I kind of stay and that’s where I belong. I’m very happy to be here.”

As the Super Golf League attempts to poach golfers away from the PGA Tour, three of the top five players in the world made it clear that they are in favor of staying.

Lauralys Shallow is a media innovation and content strategy graduate student at Medill. You can follow her on Twitter at @ShallowLauralys.