LIV Golf’s Lee Westwood scoffs at PGA Tour changes: ‘It’s just a copy of what LIV is doing’

The PGA Tour on Wednesday announced sweeping changes to its schedule, structure and prize money offerings.

And golf veteran Lee Westwood couldn’t help but find the changes amusing.

Westwood, who was one of the first golfers to leave the PGA Tour for the LIV Golf Tour, explained in a recent interview with Golf Digest that he believes the changes were not only inspired by LIV, but are a direct copy of the Saudi supported startup structure.

I laugh at what the PGA Tour players came up with. It’s just a copy of what LIV does. There are many hypocrites out there. They all say that LIV is not competitive. They all point to the no-cut aspect of LIV and the short fields. Now, strangely enough, they are proposing 20 events that look very similar to LIV.

“Hopefully they all choke on their words at some point,” he added of those who criticized the LIV Golf-style events. “And hopefully they’ll be held accountable like they were in the early days.”

MORE: What you need to know about the PGA Tour’s massive changes to tackle the LIV golf challenge

In fact, the new structure of the PGA Tour is similar to that of LIV Golf. The Saudi Arabia-backed tour will feature a 14-event schedule in 2023 with a total event fund of $25 million. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour added 13 “elevated events” that top golfers must attend. Prize money from these events will be worth US$20 million, an amount comparable to the prize money offered by LIV Golf.

Money is a driving force behind PGA Tour change. It had lost numerous competitors to LIV Golf as the well-funded Saudis had lured top golfers away with promises of nine-figure contracts and huge purses.

The PGA Tour has suspended golfers who chose to play for LIV Golf, including big winners Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed. Now it’s hoping changes to its prize pool will keep it from losing more talent.

MORE: Who Plays LIV Golf? The list of PGA Tour defectors is growing

Westwood believes LIV Golf is effectively forcing the PGA Tour to increase its prize pool; He says this gives the PGA Tour a taste of its own medicine, as it has in the past weaponized prize pools to discourage golfers from attending other events like the European Tour.

He also stated that he believes the PGA Tour controls other tours, like the DP World Tour, with which it has a strategic alliance.

“I’m not convinced of the strategic alliance because I’ve seen how the PGA Tour has behaved over the years,” Westwood said. “There isn’t much ‘giving’. They’ve always been tyrants and now they’re getting their compensation.

Everything the PGA Tour has done since Tiger [Woods] came on tour is in the prize purses above. This in turn took the best players from Europe away from the European Tour. They had to play in the States and take all their world ranking points with them. That was their strategy: “Hang up the money. Get all players. Accumulate all world ranking points.’ What becomes a sure-fire success.

“What we’ve seen over the last few months is just LIV doing what the PGA Tour has done for the last 25 years.”

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