Martin Dempster: LIV Golf money couldn't buy memories created by Rory McIlroy and Linn Grant

So there is a golfing God. And maybe a Goddess, too. Step forward Rory McIlroy and Linn Grant, who, in the space of a few hours on Sunday, delivered timely boosts for the DP World Tour and PGA Tour in the face of a flood of publicity for LIV Golf.

We all knew, of course, that the launch of Greg Norman’s breakaway series, which is being backed by Saudi Arabia, at Centurion Club would attract lots of attention and it certainly did, especially after Phil Mickelson came out of his self-imposed four-month exile to be part of the 48-man field.

Though not there in person, by all accounts it was a well-run opening event, as was always going to be the case, in fairness, and former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is a very decent name to have as the inaugural $4 million winner.

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The jury is still out, though, about a 54-hole event with a shotgun start being the game’s bright new future and Norman and his team certainly look to have their work cut out to convince people about their much-vaunted team element being a game-changer.

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Apologies if this upsets anyone, but I’ve thought for a while that the only exciting thing about the LET’s Aramco Team Series has been the draft process, with the format itself being a bit of a damp squib and, consequently, not really gaining any additional exposure for the women’s game.

The Formula One-style leaderboard for last week’s event was definitely snazzy, but it remains to be seen if a team contest within an individual tournament actually works and let’s remember that the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup, for example, are hugely popular due to a head-to-head element and involving continents, too, of course.

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Nonetheless, Noman seemed pleased with LIV Golf’s opening course and, with Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed having been added to the menu for second event in Portland later in the month, the former world No 1 will be keen to see the series quickly build up a head of steam.

His biggest obstacle, though, in trying to transform the golfing landscape is that it doesn’t look as he has any chance of luring the likes of McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa away from the PGA Tour and, even for a whopping $1 billion, Tiger Woods won’t be joining the Saudi rebels, either.

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Rory McIlroy acknowledges the crowd after winning the RBC Canadian Open at St. George's Golf and Country Club in Etobicoke, Ontario. Picture: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images.

That McIlroy won the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday was ironic given he’s probably been most outspoken about LIV Golf. That he did so after a thrilling last-day tussle with Thomas, who is also pro-PGA Tour, and Tony Finau was manna from heaven for Jay Monahan.

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The Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed also worked out nicely for Keith Pelley, his DP World Tour counterpart, as Linn, playing on home soil at Halmstad in Sweden, created history by becoming the first female to win on what was formerly the European Tour.

Yes, the women were playing on a course I believe was playing around 14 per cent shorter than the men – and I honestly can’t believe the number of people trying to use that to devalue the feat – but, make no mistake, it was way more significant in terms of being a boost for the game than anything LIV Golf-related last week.

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Money alone can’t be what drives our great game going forward. It also has to be about providing opportunities to create memories at every level and all the cash in the world couldn’t buy the joy shared on Sunday by McIlroy and Grant.

Linn Grant celebrates with her boyfriend and caddie Pontus Samuelsson after winning the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika at Halmstad Golf Club in Sweden. Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images.
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