When the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series was first created and a number of big-name players joined the upstart league, it raised a number of big questions.
Perhaps the biggest question was what it would mean for major championships.
Would those star players still be eligible to play in golf’s biggest events?
It took a while, but we finally got the answer to that question. And the answer was a resounding “yes.”
So when the 87th edition of The Masters kicks off on Thursday morning, the 88-man field will feature 18 golfers from the new league. Among them are six former Masters champions: Phil Mickelson (2004, 2006, 2010), Charl Schwartzel (2011), Bubba Watson (2012, 2014), Sergio Garcia (2017), Patrick Reed (2018) and Dustin Johnson (2020).
They’ve won a combined a nine combined green jackets. The group also includes for major champions Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Smith and Louis Oosthuizen. Not a bad group!
But while Augusta National Golf Club was benevolent (or smart, depending on who you ask) enough to allow the players to compete, it didn’t completely let them off the hook.
The Masters announced its groupings for rounds one and two on Tuesday morning and one major thing stood out. None of the 18 LIV golfers competing in the event were paired with any top-50 player in the Official World Golf Rankings who competes on the PGA Tour.
Beyond that, the tournament also selected its featured groups for rounds one and two. To nobody’s surprise, they did not include any LIV Golf players.
(Eventual) LIV guys in featured groups by year:
'20: Bryson, Oosthuizen, Ogletree, Wolff, Bubba, Smith, DJ, Koepka, Westwood, Na, Kokrak, Stenson
'21: DJ, Westwood, Smith, Bubba, Koepka, Phil, Bryson, Reed, Casey
'22: Oosthuizen, Niemann, DJ, Koepka, Piot
'23 Round 1: None
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) April 4, 2023
That’s after a combined 16 players who are now in LIV found themselves in featured groups in 2020-2022 according to No Laying Up.
So The Masters was happy to invite them in the door. But it’s clear they’re not going to endorse their decision to LIV.
And given what LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman had to say earlier this week, you can’t exactly blame them.