“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one,” wrote the eighteenth-century French philosopher Voltaire, who apparently lacked the foresight enjoyed by twenty-first-century propagandists Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson.
Uncertainty is the sole currency circulating in the golf world right now. About whether the PGA Tour’s Framework Agreement with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund will be consummated. About how radical the realignment of the game’s ecosystem will be. About the timeframe for obtaining clarity. About how private investment fits into the schematic. About the degree of dilution the Saudis will accept before losing face. About what the players on the Tour’s board will support. Ask any informed person about these issues and the one response you won’t get is confident assurances. They simply don’t know. The only precinct where bombastic certitude is the coin of the realm is LIV, as evidenced by comments from Norman and Mickelson this week at Trump Doral.
Since the announcement of the Framework Agreement almost five months ago, Norman has been so uncharacteristically muted that his ultimate employer may have enjoined him to silence, though not as permanently as he did Jamal Khashoggi. Clearly, the flaxen-haired finger puppet hasn’t spent those months in quiet contemplation of troubling facts. “All indications show you that the position of LIV has never been stronger and the position and success of our players and our brand has never been in a better place,” he said in Miami.
What those indicators are, he didn’t share. In reality, his product still has no audience of scale, has attracted no announced buyers for team franchises, despite Bubba Watson insisting he’s besieged by interested parties, and presents a risible broadcast that makes North Korean state television seem comparatively nonpartisan, and for which it no longer publishes viewership figures. The only thing LIV can boast, in abundance, is something that seldom galvanizes genuine fans in any sport: cash.
“The business model works,” Norman added, displaying the kind of bulletproof confidence he could have used on many a second Sunday in April. Perhaps LIV has “never been stronger,” but that owes less to Norman’s management or product quality than to the fact that its sole benefactor views it as a useful (for now) vehicle to legitimacy in the sport.
Mickelson, for his part, deserves a Rosie the Riveter-style poster in his…