Although the war between the PGA Tour and the LIV Golf League isn’t over anytime soon, the most tumultuous year in the history of men’s professional golf is finally coming to an end.
In the past 12 months, Tiger Woods has returned to the course, Phil Mickelson has gone into hiding, Greg Norman has tried to match his score with the PGA Tour, and Scotty Scheffler has become a bona fide star. On the LPGA Tour, Lydia Ko returned to the top, and Nellie Korda and Danielle Kang overcame health scares.
The PGA Tour resumes on Jan. 5 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii. The LPGA returns in two weeks at the Hilton Grand Vacations tournament. In the meantime, here’s a look at the biggest newsmakers in professional golf over the past year:
25. Daniel Kang
Kang’s 2022 season got off to an impressive start, winning the inaugural Hilton Grand Vacation of Champions and finishing 2nd at the Gainbridge LPGA in Boca Rio. But back problems have kept her out of just a handful of events, and her brother Alex revealed she will play at the US Women’s Open in June with a spinal tumor. Somehow she played through her pain and tied for 63rd. She missed more than two months while recovering and finished second at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, losing to Atya Titikul in a playoff. She has finished 15th in her last three starts.
24. Patrick Reed
Reed struggled to recover from double pneumonia in his lungs, which caused him to die in 2015. He was hospitalized in August 2021. He had just one top 10 on tour before joining the LIV golf circuit in June. Reed was part of the 4 Aces team that won LIV Golf’s inaugural team championship. He has earned over $12 million in seven LIV events. The attorney filed a $750 million defamation suit in August against Brandon Chamble, the Golf Channel and others. In Reed’s lawsuit, the defendants “conspired to destroy his reputation, to create hatred, and to create an atmosphere of hatred against him in an attempt to discredit his reputation and his accomplishments as a young, elite, world-class golfer and a good and caring man who is a husband and father of two.”
23. Fred Ridley
Augusta National Golf Club’s chairman made headlines last week that any golfer eligible for the Masters, including players competing on the LIV golf circuit, will be invited to play in April. While it’s hard to imagine Augusta National banning past champions like Bubba Watson, Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Reed from the tournament, there was speculation that the club might change the eligibility criteria to make it harder for other LIV golfers to get there.
Ridley’s statement contained very strong language about how LIV golf has divided the sport: “Unfortunately, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacy it has built.” Our focus this coming April is to celebrate the tradition of bringing together a field of outstanding golfers.
22. Will Zalatoris
After several close losses, Zalatoris picked up his first PGA Tour victory in the first round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. Somehow he won a three-hole match against Sep Straka without even making a birdie. After taking a penalty shot from the rocks around the par-3 11th green and making a 7-foot bogey, he got the big win. Zalatoris was in contention at the BMW Championship the following week, but injured his back and did not play while recovering from two herniated discs. Zalatoris, ranked seventh in the world, has three runner-up finishes at home, including a final loss to Justin Thomas at the 2022 PGA Championship.
21. Max Homa
Homa won twice during the 2021-22 wrap-up schedule, taking home the season-opening Fortnite Championship and the Wells Fargo Championship. It was a triumphant campaign in many ways, winning multiple times in the same season for the first time, qualifying for the Tour Championship for the first time and making his first US team appearance as a professional – he was the captain’s choice for the Presidents Cup. In September, he won the Fortnite Championship at the start of the 2022-23 schedule. Homa is one of the funniest golfers on social media, and even better now that he’s a first-time father. Homa and his wife, Lacy, welcomed their son, Cam, on October 30.
20. Judge Beth Labson Freeman
Freeman is an avid golfer and has a posted handicap of 32.9. Former President Barack Obama appointed Freeman to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 2014, and she presided over LIV Golf’s federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour and the tour’s lawsuit against LIV Golf, alleging interference with LIV Golf’s contracts with players. Entered.
In August, Freeman denied temporary restraining orders to three LIV golfers, Matt Jones, Hudson Swafford and Talor Goch, who wanted to return to the PGA Tour and compete in FedEx Cup play. In her decision, Freeman wrote that the plaintiffs “failed to show that they were harmed — let alone repaired.” The trial isn’t scheduled to begin until January 2024, but as the two sides wrangle over discovery and other issues, Freeman thinks he’ll play an important role in moving the sport forward.
19. Lydia Co
After becoming the youngest winner and youngest woman major champion in LPGA history, Coe won just once from 2017 to 2020.
At age 25, Ko returned to her best form this past season and played the best golf of her career, winning three times and earning more than $4 million. In November, she won the CME Team Tour Championship and a $2 million purse. She was named the LPGA Player of the Year and won the circuit scoring title. Ko returned to world No. 1 for the first time since 2017. Ko is said to be marrying her fiance Chung Joon in Seoul on Friday.
18. Tom Kim
Cameron Young was the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, and deservedly so, but Kim might be 2022’s most exciting surprise. Timing and position in the Tour Championship.
Kim won the Shriners Children’s Open by 3 strokes in October over Patrick Cantlay and Matthew Nesmith. South Korean Kim became the first 21-year-old to win twice since Woods in 1996. More than that, his traveling personality at the Presidents Cup won over competitors and many fans.
17. Bryson DeChambeau
It was exactly two years ago that DeChambeau learned the 2020 US Open with Winged Foot and threatened to slay Augusta National with his new-found tee length the following April (he finished 46th). His beef with Brooks Koepka last year made him one of the most polarizing players on the tour.
A wrist injury derailed DeChambeau’s spring and he jumped to LIV Golf in June. In the year Most of his headlines in 2022 were for off-course reasons, including being one of the most prominent plaintiffs in a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour. After DeChambeau left, he complained that the PGA Tour would not pay him the full Player Impact Program bonus.
16. Brandel Chamblee
Few members of the media have been as critical of LIV Golf as Chamley, a former PGA Tour player and Golf Channel commentator. After his first event outside LIV Golf London in June, Chambel said: “So when I hear these players saying they’re ‘raising the game’ … it makes me want to scream. They’re destroying the game. And they’re destroying it. Their names … this in golf history.” It’s one of the saddest days in the world today. They are showing us the greediest, most self-serving, self-interested, willfully blind players in the golf world today.
Reed, along with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, filed a defamation suit against Chamblee and other members of the media and outlets for conspiring to defame LIV golfers.
15. Yasir al-Rumyan
Al-Rumayan, 52, is the governor of the State Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and the state oil company Aramco. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has hired al-Rumaiya to oversee the fund, which is estimated to be worth more than $600 billion and invest in foreign companies and carry out the king’s government’s wishes. Critics have called it a “sports wash”, including the fund’s massive investment in LIV Golf.
Earlier this year, LIV Golf News reported that the Saudis were set to drop at least $784 million on the new sports venture. But former LIV Golf president and COO Atul Khosla, who resigned this month, told ESPN that the total costs are much higher than that. The Saudis are said to be losing a lot of money on LIV Golf, and it may be Al-Rumaian who decides how long the funding will last.
14. Peter Dawson
As the official chairman of the World Golf Ranking, Dawson oversees one of the most important decisions in golf. LIV Golf has applied for accreditation from the OWGR so that its players can receive ranking points for its events. Major championships and Olympics use the OWGR standards to determine freestyles and fields.
LIV golfers did not receive points for their scores during the LIV Open, and most of the players fell short of the OWGR ranking. LIV golf events do not meet the traditional requirements of OWGR inclusion, including playing 54 holes, uncut and 48-person courses. LIV Golf officials argue that the OWGR governing board is biased because it includes PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley and others with ties to the PGA Tour.
13. Keith Pelley
DP World Tour CEO Peli took heat for his decision to strengthen the circuit’s alliance with the PGA Tour in June. Like Monaghan, Pelli also tried to ban members of the DP World Tour who competed in LIV golf events, including Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood. The members received a temporary order to continue playing. Some players have criticized Pelley for turning the DP World Tour into a “feeder circuit” for the PGA Tour.
“I often get the question, why can’t we work with the PGA Tour and the Saudis?” Peli spoke before the BMW PGA Championship in September. “We tried. But the Saudis decided to develop a new series outside of the current ecosystem. That decision created the conflict that we see today, and we chose to partner with the tour that leads the game. Some people may not agree with that decision.”
12. Matt Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick has long been considered one of the top talents in the world, and his breakthrough finally came in June at the US Open at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Fitzpatrick carded a 6-under 274 over 72 holes, which was good enough to beat Scheffler and Zalatoris by a stroke.
Fitzpatrick’s second shot on the 18th hole in the final round may have been his best shot of the season. Fitzpatrick won the US Amateur nine years ago on the same course. He became only the second man to win the US Amateur and the US Open on the same course; He joins Jack Nicklaus, who played the tournament at Pebble Beach.
11. Justin Thomas
Thomas only won once last season, but it was a big one – his second major at the PGA Championship at South Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was his first major win since taking home the 2017 PGA Championship. A come-from-behind victory in May confirmed Jim “Bones” McCain’s decision to put him on the briefcase full-time. McKay helped Mickelson win five majors during their 25-year partnership. That decision was as good as Thomas getting married on a Friday night instead of a college football Saturday in the fall.
10. Dustin Johnson
The former world No. 1 golfer pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour, after a few months of about-face and defections to LIV Golf. The two-time major champion earned a signing bonus of more than $125 million and gave LIV Golf early credibility. He dominated the LIV circuit in his first season, winning the individual title and leading the 4Aces GC team to the inaugural team championship. In total, not including the massive signing bonus, DJ earned over $35 million in LIV’s first season.
9. Martin Slumbers
No head of a governing body in golf has presided over the Open Championship like Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A. Slumbers told reporters at the 150th tournament at St Andrews in July that LIV Golf was “damaging the perception of the sport”.
“I firmly believe that the current golf ecosystem has successfully provided stable pathways for golfers to enter the sport and develop and develop to their full potential,” Slumbers said. “Professional golfers have the right to choose where they play and to accept the prize money. I have no problem with that. But there is no such thing as a free lunch.”
There were 24 LIV golfers competing on the old course because they had already qualified for the tournament. Sleepers have vowed the R&A will not ban LIV golfers from competing. The R&A is expected to announce in January or February what it plans to do in 2023.
8. Nellie Korda
Korda was sidelined due to a blood clot in her left arm, which kept her out for four months. She has struggled to find her form since her return, but won the Pelican Women’s Championship in November and returned to the current world No. 2 ranking.
At this month’s QBE Shootout and PNC Championship, several PGA Tour players raved about Korda’s swing, including Homa and Jordan Spieth. “I think I once called her the Tiger Woods of the LPGA Tour,” said Kevin Kisner, who played a practice round with her at the QBE Shootout. “She hit every shot she wanted for eight holes. Does she hit like a bad shot? I have no idea. I’ve never seen her hit a bad shot.”
7. Scottie Scheffler
Heading into 2022, there were questions about whether Scheffler, a former University of Texas star, would be able to close out tournaments on the PGA Tour. Well, he silenced his critics in an impressive six-start warm-up period where he picked up his first win at the WM Phoenix Open, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and again at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The main championship in the Masters.
Along with his first four wins, Scheffler finished second four times and had 18 top-25 finishes in 25 starts. Scheffler became the first player to earn more than $14 million in official purse money in a single season, reaching No. 1 in the world after the match-play championship. He is currently ranked 2nd behind Rory McIlroy. It’s no surprise that the soft-spoken Texan is voted PGA Tour player of the year by his peers.
6. Cameron Smith
When Smith claimed the $3.6 million prize money in men’s golf history at the time, he seemed to have reached the pinnacle of the sport. He had already won the Sentry Tournament of Champions and was one of the best announcers in the world. He finished third at the Masters and tied for 13th at the PGA Championship.
Then, at the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews, Smith compiled a stunning final-round 64 to win his first major. Two days after the season-ending Tour Championship, Smith, then the No. 2 player in the world, went to LIV Golf. Losing the 28-year-old Australian was perhaps the biggest blow to the PGA Tour because he was young, popular with fans and at the peak of his career.
5. Jay Monahan
Monaghan has been the PGA Tour’s fourth commissioner since taking office in January 2017. But Monahan has been under fire since Mickelson’s controversial comments.
Monaghan suspended 17 PGA Tour members who played in the first LIV Golf event, including Mickelson, Johnson and Sergio Garcia. They are not the last to be betrayed or banned. “We will not allow our players to be freed from our loyal members, the best players in the world,” Monahan said.
Mickelson and other LIV players didn’t blink when federal antitrust lawsuits were filed against the PGA Tour. While Monaghan said the tour was “moving on” from LIV Golf in March, he responded quickly and decisively to the build-up threat with help from McIlroy and Woods to create a series of high-profile events for 2023. With increased purses to convince the best players to remain loyal to the PGA Tour.
4. Greg Norman
Whether you agree with Norman’s methods or not, it’s hard to argue that the two-time Open Championship winner hasn’t done more to change or disrupt the landscape of men’s professional golf over the past year. Whether or not LIV Golf’s business model will last remains to be seen, but for the first time in more than five decades, the PGA Tour is facing a competitive circuit.
Backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the Norman League, which prides itself on its 54 holes, shotgun starts and four-man division, confirmed what some fans already knew: Many golfers are motivated by money. Norman had a few missteps along the way, including describing the Saudi monarchy’s assassination of Jamal Khashoggi as a “mistake.” Khashoggi was a reporter for the Washington Post and a resident of the United States.
3. Rory McIlroy
McIlroy has won three times in the 2021-22 season, including the season-ending Tour Championship. He then won again at the CJ Cup in South Carolina to become world No. 1 for the ninth time in his career. He nearly ended an eight-year major championship drought, finishing second at the Masters, eighth at the PGA Championship, fifth at the US Open and third at The Open.
Massilroy’s most important work came off the course, as he was a loyal supporter of the PGA Tour’s battle with LIV Golf. At a meeting before the BMW Championship in August, McIlroy and Woods rallied the players to remain committed to the PGA Tour, leading to significant changes. Moreover, McIlroy was a demanding sports conscience.
2. Tiger Woods
15-time major champion Thomas was honored at Augusta National Golf Club, the sporting world wholeheartedly.
The five-time Masters champion played in his favorite tournament and thousands of customers tuned in to watch every shot. He wandered the famous course and finished 47th. It was his best finish in three starts in the majors; He withdrew from the PGA Championship after 54 holes and missed out on the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews.
The results weren’t great, but Tiger’s comeback was the biggest course story in golf. His return to competition comes at a time when the PGA Tour needs it most. If you needed more proof that he’s still the most popular golfer in the world, he won the Players Impact Program for the second year in a row despite playing in three official tour events.
1. Phil Mickelson
The six-time major champion made a stunning victory at the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, making him the oldest champion in history at age 50. In mid-February, his controversial comments about the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian monarchy were published.
In a phone conversation with author Alan Shipnuk, who is writing a biography of the unlicensed golfer, Mickelson said he is willing to partner with Saudi Arabia’s LIV Golf sponsors on the PGA Tour.
During a phone call to Shipnuk, Mickelson told Shipnuk that it happened in November 2021. “They’re terrible moms to be involved with,” he said. [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi has a terrible record on human rights. They kill people there for being gay. Knowing all this, why should I consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change how the PGA Tour works.”
Mickelson faced immediate backlash for his comments, which delayed the LIV golf circuit from getting off the ground. Longtime sponsors KPMG, Amstel Light and others have ended their relationship with him. Callaway terminated the deal. Mickelson exiled himself, grew his beard and skipped the Masters and PGA Championships as the defending champion.
He was suspended by the PGA Tour at his inaugural event outside London in June.