Jordan Spieth says PGA Tour players will benefit from golf's Saudi 'threat'

Former Open champion Jordan Spieth believes PGA Tour players can feel “satisfied” on the US-based circuit despite Greg Norman’s Saudi Arabian-backed company posing a “threat”.

Jordan Spieth during a practice round prior to the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Golf Club in Hawaii. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

In his role as CEO of LIV Golf Investments, former world No 1 Norman is aiming to deliver new big-money events on the Asian Tour and has also been linked with a breakaway league in world golf.

“Well, I think certainly it's a threat to the PGA Tour,” said Spieth, speaking in Hawaii, where he is playing in this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, of Norman having an initial $200 million of Saudi cash at his disposal.

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“[But] I think as a player overall it will benefit us in that I think that changes that have come from the PGA Tour have been modernised in a way that may or may not have come about if it weren't there.

Xander Schauffele secured his spot in this week's Sentry Tournament of Champions on the back of winning the gold medal in last year's Olympics in Japan. Picture: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images.

“So far, I think it's been something that has kind of helped the PGA Tour sit and say, ‘hey, where can we look to satisfy our membership and potentially make some changes going forward that, where there's some similarities potentially to a league like that, but while maintaining kind of the integrity that the PGA Tour has’.

“Going forward, I guess we'll have to see. I can only say from my point of view I think that it's been beneficial to the players to have competition.

“And I think the tour would say that they probably feel that they're in a better position going forward by having to sit back and kind of take a look at things and make some changes.”

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The PGA Tour has granted releases to players for next month’s Saudi International, which is now part of the Asian Tour schedule, if certain conditions are met and it is now being reported by The Guardian that the DP World Tour, the recently-rebranded European Tour, is about to follow suit.

Olympic champion Xander Schauffele is one of the PGA Tour stars heading to Saudi, meaning he will have to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the corresponding event on the US circuit, at least twice in the next two years.

“I've had my reservations about playing at AT&T, so it's definitely a tricky one to handle that situation,” he admitted.

Not that Schauffele could be accused of failing to support other events on the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing, as evidenced by his schedule before and after that Saudi trip.

“As of right now, it's going to be Farmers [Insurance Open] and then I'm going to go over to Saudi and then I'm going to come straight back and play Waste [Management Phoenix Open] and LA [The Genesis Invitational],” he said.

“I wouldn't miss those for anything and just because I'm going over there, I'm coming straight back. So we'll put my body through the wringer and my mind through the wringer, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.”

Spieth (2016) and Schuffele (2019) are both past winners on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club, with the latter feeling “extra fortunate” to be in the elite field on this occasion.

“The Olympics wasn't on the list (of 2021 winners) and the tour was nice enough to put it on the list with the help of some players lobbying for me,” said Schauffele.

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