UNDER FURTHER REVIEW- Here’s an idea: Take the LIV-PGA Tour fray outside

The headline in last Friday’s Wall Street Journal read: The Presidents Cup Could Be Decided by the LIV Golf Battle.

Nice attempt at fanning the flames of professional golf’s schism, but in truth, the Presidents Cup was never in doubt. The Internationals would have been outmanned even if LIV hadn’t poached a single non-American player.

The PGA Tour has barred pros who jump to the Saudi-backed LIV circuit from playing in a Tour-sponsored event, which includes the Presidents Cup. And LIV has filed an antitrust lawsuit.

But, while the two sides do battle in court and in Congress, I have an idea.

Why not another team event? It could be bigger than the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, combined.

Call it the Loving Cup!

In Loving Cup play, a team from the PGA Tour would play a team from LIV Golf. Granted, there are differences to be resolved, most notably four rounds or three in the competition.

But who wouldn’t want to watch the loyalists versus the renegades . . . the patriots (so to speak) against the traitors?

LIV could field a team that includes Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Louie Oosthuizen, Joaquin Nieman and Patrick Reed (and others).

The PGA Tour’s unit could feature Rory McElroy, Scottie Scheffler, John Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Sungjae Im, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay (among others).

Make the team captains Commissioner Jay Monahan for The Tour and Greg Norman for LIV—just for extra spice. 

Play it in Phoenix, where crowds at the Waste Management Open are allowed—even encouraged—to be raucous in their expressions of approval and disapproval of players’ shots.

The Loving Cup is said to have originated during the 10th century, when King Edward The Martyr was assassinated while drinking at a banquet. This account states that the king was imbibing from a two-handled cup and thus could not shield himself.

Whatever, it since has been a symbol of both camaraderie and competition for more than 1,200 years. So, why not a mixed metaphor for golf? It certainly would be more fun than any trial or Congressional hearing will be.

Instead of just presenting the trophy upon conclusion of the matches, each player from both sides—alternatingly—would be required to take a drink from the Loving Cup and pass it to the next—in keeping with Loving Cup tradition (pandemic alarmists be damned). The winning side, of course, gets to possess the cup.

Several friends have asked me how I feel about the LIVsters and the breakaway circuit.

Regarding the source of the largesse, I think it’s a question of whether or not each individual feels his participation in the upstart “league” will influence either the worldview of that nation or its human rights record. The notion that LIV Golf will promote the sport in parts of the world is specious.

As for each personal and professional calculation, I have a hard time criticizing any player who chooses to make the jump.

If you were offered the option to travel to tournaments half as often (exponentially increasing family time or personal time for other pursuits), while receiving more money than you could reasonably expect to earn if you played your best all the time, would you accept or decline?

That’s the choice the LIVsters weighed then accepted.

The advent of LIV Golf reminds me of the early days of the American Football League and the birth of the American Basketball Association. (Denver was a charter city in both.)

The two-point post-touchdown conversion option in pro football and the three-point shot addition to pro basketball made play in both sports more exciting and interesting. Former Nuggets coach George Karl recently said the ABA and its innovations “saved” a “moribund” National Basketball Association.

The key for both upstarts was TV exposure, and so it will be for LIV.  If and when its tournaments can be watched on television, LIV will be on the road to comity with The Tour.

Already, The Tour has begun to adapt in response to LIV, with bigger purses at selected tournaments and guaranteed participation in more events by its top stars. If/when the animosity subsides, there will be other tweaks that improve things for players and fans.

What about the fans? 

As much as players say they appreciate galleries, and missed them during the height of the pandemic, it’s understandable that the pros would put themselves first in this equation.

The bigger question for me is when will the PGA Tour put fans first?

Loving Cup matches would be a step in that direction. It’s more or less how the Super Bowl began.

Denny Dressman is a veteran of 43 years in the newspaper business, including 25 at the Rocky Mountain News, where he began as executive sports editor. He is the author of 14 books, eight of them sports-related. You can write to Denny at dennydressman@comcast.net.