Watson puzzled by critics questioning LIV Golf guaranteed money

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson isn’t sure why LIV golfers are being heavily criticized by some PGA Tour players for taking guaranteed money off the new circuit.

Watson, 43, told ESPN that while playing on the PGA Tour he received guaranteed appearance money from sponsors and tournament organizers, which is not allowed under the rules of the tour.

“It makes me laugh because I got paid behind closed doors on the PGA Tour to appear at tournaments, many tournaments,” Watson told ESPN. “And if Bubba Watson isn’t the best, that means the best were paid better than me and more than me. And so it is guaranteed money. I’m missing out on the cut, I’m still making money. I’m doing the cut, I’m making extra money. “

In a statement to ESPN on Wednesday, the PGA Tour said it prohibits “the payment of appearance fees to players as an incentive to attend a particular tournament.”

“We are aware that certain tournament sponsors may contract with a player to conduct a sponsor-related activity during tournament week for which they receive nominal compensation,” the PGA Tour statement said. “It’s permissible under our policy.”

Tiger Woods and other PGA Tour players have criticized players for accepting guaranteed multi-year contracts from LIV Golf, which is funded by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund. Former world No. 1 golfer Dustin Johnson was reportedly paid more than $125 million to move to the new circuit and then won an additional $35 million in prize money and bonuses in his inaugural season.

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, who helped recruit players for LIV Golf, reportedly signed a $200 million deal.

“What these players do for guaranteed money, what’s the incentive to practice?” Woods told reporters at the 150th Open at St Andrews in July. “What’s the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You just get paid a lot of money up front and play a few events and play 54 holes.”

Watson hasn’t disclosed how much money he’s made from under the table during his PGA Tour career, which has seen him win 12 times, including the Masters in 2012 and 2014.

“I would laugh about it [criticism] because we all had some guaranteed money to show up in certain places,” Watson said. “Win, lose, quit, whatever it is, you still have the money. We all did. We all played for guaranteed money. The critics, it just makes me laugh because we do. We don’t want to talk about it on tour, but we can do it.”

PGA Tour Players’ Council member Kevin Kisner told ESPN that the money players receive at PGA Tour tournaments is different than what LIV Golf spends.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an appearance fee rather than a relationship between the player and the title sponsor or the host organization,” Kisner said. “They’re trying to get more money into players’ hands through contracted gigs for tent visits or pro-ams away from the regular PGA Tour. It’s been like this forever.

“If Travelers wants to pay Bubba Watson to go to a tent, it has nothing to do with the PGA Tour. Don’t you think Zurich in New Orleans pushes the boys to play because they sponsor them up their sleeves? no performance fee. This is an off-course confirmation that is under contract. How many players does RBC have?”

Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf, said he cannot accept entry fees if he plays on the PGA Tour.

“I’ve been away from the PGA Tour for so long,” Norman said. “I’ve heard these rumors and opinions out there. All I can say is if Bubba says that it has to be factual and it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Back then we weren’t allowed to take sham money, we weren’t allowed to pay for our hotels or have any expenses paid for. We just had to play golf and we made what we made and we spent what we had to spend to make that money. Now it could be different.

https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/34934364/watson-puzzled-critics-questioning-liv-golf-guaranteed-money Watson puzzled by critics questioning LIV Golf guaranteed money

Emma Bowman

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