This morning in the Currency, a Must Read, by Tom Lyons, and the Threat to the PGA Golf Tour, Woods turned down, 1 Billion it is Alleged, some Money?

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Good morning, “An actor,” Marlon Brando once said, “is a guy who if you ain’t talking about him, he ain’t listening.” An element of that self-obsession could be glimpsed among golfers this week, when a number of the best known players in the world launched the LIV Golf Invitational Series at the Centurion Club outside London. The LIV Tour had offered extraordinary sums to sign up players like Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Dustin Johnson. It had offered even more extraordinary sums to others (Tiger Woods is said to have turned down close to a billion dollars as a signing on fee). The power behind LIV Golf is, of course, Saudi Arabia, through its Public Investment Fund, which also recently bought 80 per cent of Newcastle United. For some golfers, the source of this money seems to be a minor concern. Certainly they appear to think it can be balanced by these golfers’ utterly self-involved belief that the game of golf is a fine counterbalance to the human rights abuses of the Saudi regime. As Graeme McDowell put it this week – “I really feel golf is a force of good in the world. I try to be a role model to kids. I try to use this game as a force for good. We’re not politicians, we’re professional golfers. If Saudi Arabia want to use the game of golf as a way for them to get to where they want to be, I think we’re proud to help them on that journey.” No matter your views on the “game of golf”, I think most people would feel it is a lot to ask that golf can “help Saudi Arabia on that journey”. The CEO of LIV Golf is Greg Norman who, as Fintan Drury writes today, “has been loitering around the edges of the game for decades looking for ways to destabilise its establishment; that is to say the structures that dominate the professional men’s game in Europe and, especially, the USA.” For the golfers, this is the prime consideration, an opportunity as McDowell put it rather ridiculously, to operate as “independent contractors”. As soon as the tournament began, the PGA suspended 17 golfers from their competitions. This conflict matters more to golfers like Mickelson than the Saudi regime. Mickelson has just returned from a four-month break following comments he made about the Saudi plan. “We know they killed Jamal Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights,” he said. “They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.” This is a golfer who if you ain’t talking about how golf operates, he ain’t listening. Fintan, in his role as an agent, spent a long time working with the European Tour. In his piece, he explores the refusal of some to engage with the realities of a country like Saudi Arabia. In the accompanying podcast, he talks to Dion about what he would advise if he was representing a player who received an offer like this. They also discuss if there is merit – if you put the source of the money to one side for a moment – to the argument that the golfers should be free to play wherever they wish. Fintan believes that the breakaway will lead to reform within the PGA. Fintan also tries to get inside the minds of those golfers who haven’t signed up yet and Dion asks if they will be looking on thinking they’ve swerved a controversy or simply thinking about the money they could make. Tom Lyons CEO, The Currency
eekend edition Joe Campbell’s Story-Part 4 In the final Campbell, we look at the frustrations of the family as they have sought justice and the fears that the planned legislation by Boris Johnson’s government could deny them again. The grotesque normality of war Kharkiv is 40km from the border with Russia. Johnny O’Reilly reports from Ukraine’s second largest city which is on the frontline in a war that hasn’t become any less brutal.

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