Smith: Hovland's explosive PGA-LIV comments show what a mess we're still in

Viktor Hovland's explosive comments shows just how desperate the situation has become in men's professional golf, writes Ben Smith.

Ben Smith's picture
Tue, 19 Dec 2023
Smith: Hovland's explosive PGA-LIV comments show what a mess we're still in

One of my favourite Viktor Hovland stories involves the Norwegian being approached at a packed airport waiting to board a flight. 

A woman looking to the pass the time with a bit of small talk asked him what he did for a living. 

"I live in Oklahoma and I play a bit of golf," came the reply. 

At the time, it was November 2021 and he was ninth in the world rankings. He had played in the Ryder Cup and already won millions of dollars in prize money. 

His response demonstrated his humble side in an utterly hilarious manner.

And you could argue the way he has presented himself over the last two years of the PGA Tour-LIV Golf divide hasn't changed. 

Elite men's professional golfers squabbling over gargantuan sums of money has been a terrible look.

There are some players out there who may look back on this period with a sense of shame. 

The whole saga has probably turned more fans off watching the game altogether and made the majors even more important. 

But to hear Hovland, of all people, putting the PGA Tour on full blast demonstrates what a mess we are in. 

"I don't know what will happen," Hovland told Discovery's golf podcast 'FORE' of the looming 31 December deadline for the PGA Tour to ratify the 6 June framework agreement with LIV's financiers, the PIF.

"It must be fair to say that the PGA Tour has done a damn bad job."

Hovland said it would be silly to criticise the players who bolted to LIV and he understood why Jon Rahm joined. 

The Spaniard is said to have been given £240m up front by LIV, with the rest following through bonuses as part of the team franchise that he will own.

He continued: "Just to be clear: I'm not complaining about the position I'm in, and I'm very grateful for everything.

"But the management has not done a good job.

"They almost see the players as labour, and not as part of the members. After all, we are the PGA Tour. Without the players, there is nothing."

Whilst I agree with this statement I would add this Viktor: Without the fanbase, there is no PGA Tour. 

The PGA Tour's policy board and everybody involved in these ongoing talks that will shape the men's game for years to come would do well to remember this. 

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