Once upon a time, LIV Golf’s schedule was the centerpiece of the argument in favor of the tour’s existence.
Dustin Johnson said it best in his interview with Netflix’s Full Swing — a point that was parroted by more than half of his high-profile LIV defector counterparts.
“For me, [the decision was about] playing less, making more money,” Johnson said. “Someone offers anyone a job doing the same thing they’re already doing but less time at the office and they’re gonna pay them more, pretty sure you’re gonna take it. And something’s wrong with you if you didn’t.”
Play less, make more — sounds like a pretty good gig, doesn’t it? Well, it seems not everyone agrees.
Jed Morgan is one of LIV’s least-established talents. A 23-year-old former Australian PGA Championship winner, he was wooed to the new league ahead of its first season in 2022, joining the all-Aussie squad of Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman and Matt Jones on LIV’s “Ripper GC” at the beginning of ’23.
But it hasn’t been a fairy tale beginning to his LIV Golf career. Through 10 starts over two years, his best finish is a 13th-place performance at LIV Jeddah last year. Other than that, Morgan has as many dead-last finishes (two) as he does top-25s.
Ahead of LIV’s first Australian tournament in Adelaide this weekend, Morgan vented to News Corp Australia about what he sees as one of the upstart league’s biggest issues: its schedule.
“There’s obviously quite a bit of time off with the LIV stuff at the moment, which is a little bit frustrating,” Morgan said. “You probably need to play a few more events each year to keep yourself sharp.”
LIV currently operates on a schedule model that will see it host 14 events this year, or roughly one per month. That comes at a considerably lighter clip than its PGA Tour counterparts, who will host more than 50 events across the 2023 season. Between the Tour’s designated events, the major championships, and various sponsor exemptions, most top players on the PGA Tour will compete in 20-25 events in 2023, more than LIV’s maxed-out number (with majors) of 18.
Of course, Morgan recognizes the importance of LIV’s league’s schedule structure to its older star players, but he wonders if it’s possible to generate the quality of play he needs to develop with the current schedule density.
“I think a lot of the guys would like to see it grow to 18 events, but that’s from a young guy speaking. Others might like 14,” he admitted. “Part of being a good golfer is playing a few tournaments in a row, and getting some form that way.”
Morgan’s comments come as LIV’s schedule earns increased attention both inside the league and beyond. It would seem to be smart business for LIV to expand beyond its current format — particularly as the league tries to improve its profitability both on television and with sponsors — but doing so could earn an uprising from the league’s old guard. Any number above LIV’s current 14 events — plus the four major championships — would bring the required starts for LIV players closer to 20 in an average year, or close to the same number of starts they had annually back on the PGA Tour.
But LIV holds all the cards. With guaranteed appearance agreements reportedly written into each player’s contract, the league controls the ability to raise or lower the number of events, even if doing such a thing would come as a highly unpopular move among its highest-profile class.
A third option would be to create a separate series of alternate-field events, not unlike what currently exists on the PGA Tour, in order to allow LIV’s youngest players to receive the repetitions they need to reach their top form. The problem with that option, though, is that it would stratify LIV into tiers — a shift that would seem to run counter to the upstart league’s founding principles. Of course, Morgan could do this himself by going to compete on LIV’s feeder tour, the Asian Tour, during off weeks, but remains to be seen whether that’s even possible given the variety of LIV’s schedule.
In short, there’s no easy answer for Jed Morgan or LIV Golf in solving the schedule issue. Sometimes, it turns out, less isn’t more.