Unless you have been locked away on a desert island for the past couple of weeks, all the golfing channels are a blaze with Jon Rahm and the $600 million LIV connection. Whether it is true or not, LIV has dominated the headlines by selecting one of the biggest targets on both the DP World and PGA TOUR. Everyone has a price and if they have putt $600 million on the table it would be hard to walk away, but I expect Rahm to stay put for now. Though the PIF merger deadline with the Tour is only weeks away. So, who knows how things my play out if PIF focus everything on developing LIV Golf.
Return of the Gmac
There is talk Brooks Koepka is bringing Graeme McDowell into his Smash team for the 2024 LIV Golf season, though I’m sure there are plenty of people expecting that space to be filled by Rahm or a young superstar. Though what many people are unaware of is these teams need sponsors and there is no one more commercially switched on than Gmac. He is the best in the business when it comes to looking after sponsors and building lifelong relationships. During pro-ams he will chat with all his playing partners, show them lines on the greens and discuss swing tips. They will all have a laugh and great time on course and a drink in the clubhouse later, just like we had to do in the old days.
Gmac has never been short of sponsors throughout his career, and it would be wise move for Brooks to bring him into the team. Plus, you can’t forget that Graeme is a Major champion and still plays great golf.
It’s a shame many modern-day professionals view pro-ams as an inconvenience and treat it as a practice round, failing to get to know their playing partners. These are opportunities for the players just as much as an experience for the amateurs. Not all will be multi-millionaire sponsor potentials but great people to know around the world. Some of my best friends live in all corners of the globe and guess where we all met? Yes, playing in pro-ams or giving them a quick lesson or tip.
Golf is one of the best social games, where you have five hours to get to know someone and enjoy their company. The only occasion I can sympathise with tour pros is when they must play a Wednesday afternoon pro-am and are in one of the starting groups the following day.
Bahamas is the place to be
Meeting up with friends is what this time of year is all about but unfortunately it looks like I can’t put my feet up just yet, as I’m having to catch up with my players in American for a few days, then off to the Bahamas, where Victor Perez has made a base for the 2024 PGA TOUR season. Adrian Meronk was the only player out of the 10 to secure PGA TOUR cards last year on the DP World Tour with a full player status. Victor is currently on standby to see what starts he’s entitled to, and the Bahamas time zone is much better than being based back home in Scotland. Plus, I’m sure he will be glad of being able to practice in the sunshine instead of being battered by the cold driving rain in Dundee.
One player we will be seeing more of on the PGA TOUR next year will be Nicolai Højgaard and he certainly has the game and nerve to make it in America, but he needs to keep a close eye on his Ryder teammate, Ludvig Aberg. The Swede has already won on the PGA TOUR after closing out the final event of the season, the RSM Classic, with a pair of 61s to win by four shots. These two plus the likes of Hovland and Rahm highlight a changing of the guard. The youngsters are hungry, and their work ethic is better than any generation before as golf is no longer just a sport but a business. The huge money on offer means the talent pool is being filtered from a young age and winners will come straight out of college in a similar way we’ve seen Aberg rise to stardom in such a short period of time.
The big shock will be if a young rookie wins a Major. That will be something special as many of the big names now have the money to just focus on the Majors, which can only mean the standard of play will be fierce and entertaining to watch. Which is why I wasn’t too concerned to hear that Cameron Smith missed the cut last month in Australia. We all have off weeks, and it was out of context, as he a class player, and come Major time I would expect to see him fighting fit and challenging on Sunday.