LIV Golfers Motivated By The Haters?

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Many players made strong moves in Friday’s round at The Open, including some from the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league. Rory McIlroy, one of the most outspoken critics of the league, said before the tournament that “it would be better for the game” if a LIV golfer did not win The Open.

Although Tiger Woods will not play the weekend at St. Andrews, he too previously went after those guys who have chosen the upstart tour.

“I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position,” Woods said on Tuesday.

Well, Rory and the PGA gang are in for a battle this weekend. Arguably the biggest defector to LIV is former World #1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson shot a solid 68 on Thursday and followed it with a 67 on Friday. He’s currently 9-under and in fifth place.

In fact, if it weren’t for a Viktor Hovland birdie on 18, we would have had a Rory-DJ pairing on Saturday – talk about fireworks. But, alas, it’s not to be. At least not yet.

Another LIV defector comes in the form of Talor Gooch. Although not one of the biggest names on tour, Gooch is a solid young player with a bright future. Following two strong rounds, Gooch is 7-under par and in a tie for eighth place.


Gooch was asked after the round if LIV golfers are motivated by criticism, to which he responded, “Yeah, for sure. Everybody, it feels like, is against us, and that’s OK … it’s kind of banded us together, I think.”

Talor Gooch of the United States tees off on the 15th hole during Day Two of The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

For his part, Dustin Johnson said the criticism has had no impact on him because he doesn’t even see it: “Honestly, I don’t read anything,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t know what you were saying or if there was anything negative being said. I don’t pay attention to it.”

Other LIV golfers in contention include Lee Westwood (-5, T-18), Abraham Ancer (-5, T-18), and Patrick Reed (-4, T-24), among others.

Reed caused quite the stir this week when he decided to rock a LIV Golf hat during a practice round at St. Andrews. Not one to shy away from controversy, Reed has continued to wear LIV caps in both of his rounds so far this week.

Patrick Reed of the United States looks on from the second green during Day One of The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

With no Tiger in the picture, the golf world is looking for other sources of drama to fill out the weekend. Dustin Johnson and company are trying to provide it with a run at the title. Nothing would create drama like a DJ-Rory final grouping on Sunday. Stay tuned.

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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  1. I feel like golf is missing any drama.

    LIV v PGA seems like a dud to me.

    Will say though that having a cut is taking away one more day of ticket sales that Tiger would have brought in.

    Shotgun start in under 4 hours seems brilliant to me.

    Wonder if they ever thought of doubts like a pairings between hot LPGA players and good looking mens players, makes me wonder if that would also draw interest. I think Paige would draw interest and I think there are a few others. Seriously though, I don’t know how you even imagine to hold onto gen Z let alone millennials with what golf is like to watch today

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