Tom Kim v Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra, returning winners - majors will keep great interest if LIV and tour players can compete against each other

Not for the first time - and, believe me, it’s a bit scary - I’ve found myself sitting down to write this column with no real idea about where to start and what route it could take, but here goes.

It’s no secret, of course, that it’s been a messy old year for golf and, sadly, it looks as though it’s going to be some time before peace breaks out over the game’s current civil war.

With court cases pending on both sides of the Atlantic over action taken against LIV Golf players by both the DP World Tour and PGA Tour, the sport is well and truly fractured right now.

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Only time will tell if LIV Golf will land legal victories or those decisions will be in favour of the traditional tours. Only time will tell, too, if LIV Golf players will be playing for Official World Golf Ranking Points sooner rather than later.

South Korea's Tom Kim poses with the trophy after winning the Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. Picture: Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images.
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It was suggested to me by a fellow golf writer that it had been an “ingenious” move by LIV Golf to form a Strategic Alliance last week with the Dubai-based MENA Tour.

He may be proved right, but that sudden development is now being reviewed by the OWGR, which had already received a letter signed by 50 LIV Golf players lobbying for action on their behalf.

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It’s almost impossible to feel any real sympathy for those players when they had to know there would be significant consequences of joining a breakaway circuit and it’s a joke that Greg Norman, the LIV Golf CEO and commissioner, thinks he’s god all of a sudden.

It is difficult to deny, though, that there is a genuine appetite for PGA Tour/DP World Tour players and LIV Golf players to be on the same stages at some point in the future and the obvious place, of course, is the majors.

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It’s hard to imagine any of those events being more appealing than they already are, but just think about the interest that would be created if the future involved the world’s top players still being able to come together every now and again.

As an invitation event, it’s going to be difficult for that to happen in a proper way, so to speak, at The Masters, but it, of course, will be the test case for the 2023 campaign.

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Will former Augusta National winners like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed be welcomed with open arms by chairman Fred Ridley and his fellow Green Jacket officials? Yes, probably, and, in my humble opinion, it would be wrong to deny them that right.

By the same token, Cameron Smith should also be allowed to defend the Claret Jug in next year’s Open at Royal Liverpool.

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The big question, though, is what changes the R&A will make to its wider qualification criteria for the game’s oldest major and the same, of course, goes for the USGA with the US Open and PGA of America in respect of the PGA Championship.

Some big calls are going to be made by Ridley, Martin Slumbers, Mike Whan and Seth Waugh and, while all four majors are proud of being independent within the sport, some sort of unity would probably serve the game best in this instance.

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It wouldn’t seem right, for example, if LIV Golf players were frozen out of one or more but allowed somehow to play in the others and that scenario, of course, would only probably lead to more court cases.

By the looks of it, LIV Golf is here to stay and, if that’s what floats your boat, be it a player or fan, then let them get on with it, enjoy it and see where the journey takes them.

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I honestly thought it was a terrible move by the young Spaniard, Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra, to ditch his final year at college in the US to sign for LIV Golf and it remains to be seen if that decision will cost him a Ryder Cup career.

But hats off to the 22-year-old for winning the circuit’s latest event in Thailand, which earned him £3.6 million, as well as a share of £2.7 million for being part of the winning team.

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What’s working against Norman a bit, though, in his bid to be a revolutionary figure is that the PGA Tour, in particular, and the DP World Tour seem to be producing brilliant storylines every single week at the moment.

South Korean 20-year-old Tom Kim, for example, has just become the first player since Tiger Woods to earn two PGA Tour triumphs before turning 21 while Jon Rahm, always such an exciting golfer to watch, thrilled his home fans by winning a third Spanish Open title on Sunday.

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Rory McIlroy being to the fore on both sides of the Atlantic has also been a timely boost for the traditional tours, as was Tony Finau, one of the most popular figures in the game, landing back-to-back victories on the US circuit in the summer.

In terms of talent across the board, the game actually feels as though it’s in a better place than it has been since we started facing up to life after Tiger and that, of course, is somewhat ironic at a time when there is so much acrimony around.

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The truth, of course, is that no-one really knows how things will stand in 12 months’ time, but, like it or not, it has to be hoped that those stages can be created for talented youngsters like Kim and Lopez-Chacarra to eventually go head-to-head.

Phew, I’m glad that I’ve got that off my chest!

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