Opinion: Will Tony Finau Join Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Tour?

Jun 7, 2022, 4:12 PM
Tony Finau of the USA plays his tee shot on the 17th hole during Day One of the Saudi International...
Tony Finau of the USA plays his tee shot on the 17th hole during Day One of the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club on February 04, 2021 in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The PGA Tour is facing its largest crisis yet as a number of the world’s top players jump ship to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour. Most recently, world number 15 Dustin Johnson and reigning US Open champion Phil Mickelson have both publicly stated that they are forfeiting their PGA Tour cards for a significant upgrade in salary.

Local PGA Tour star Tony Finau is yet to make any comment on his immediate future, however, Finau spoke with Golf Monthly earlier this year and admitted that he had been approached by LIV Golf about the new opportunity but was undecided on what he was going to do.

“I mean, yeah, I’ve been approached just like I think most top guys, as you would expect,” Finau said. “I don’t have a stance on it yet. I think we’re just like everyone, don’t really know what’s going on with that. But I’m grateful to be on the PGA Tour, it’s been an honor for me to have an opportunity to play and display my talent in front of the world on a tour like the PGA Tour, so much history there.

Finau has played in Saudi Arabia for consecutive years posting a T28 and T2 finish in the Saudi International respectively in 2021 and 2022. He, along with Phil Mickelson, and Dustin Johnson, among others, opted to play in Saudi Arabia and not on the PGA Tour during those particular weeks.

Undoubtedly, Finau is likely contemplating his future in the golfing landscape. The PGA Tour has been the premier golfing platform since its inception in 1929. Finau grew up dreaming of playing on the PGA Tour. However, the financial reward that the LIV Golf Tour provides is unmatched and the time spent with family would improve if he chooses to partake.

Currently, the PGA Tour has made it clear that players who choose to compete on the LIV Tour will not be allowed to return to the PGA Tour. However, with more and more of the world’s top golfers opting to play in London this week and more presumably to follow shortly thereafter, the PGA Tour will be forced to make a decision.

Interestingly, the USGA, the host of the annual US Open, announced today that players who have already committed to the LIV Golf tour this weekend in London will be able to return to participate in next week’s US Open scheduled to be hosted at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Maybe Finau is waiting to see how the PGA Tour reacts to the chaotic news this week regarding Johnson, Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, and others.

Human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, the country in which the money behind the LIV Golf Tour is coming from, are also at the forefront of the conversation this week. Saudi Arabia has been known to have a poor human rights record adding further frustration from not just golf fans but communities across the globe regarding the start of the LIV Golf Tour and its poaching of PGA Tour players.

Presumably, Finau does not want to risk tarnishing his brand in pursuit of additional money and added family time.

LIV Golf Explained

The LIV Golf is a new golf Tour that will have eight tournaments starting this weekend in London and finishing in Miami on October 30. Unlike the PGA Tour where they play 72 holes over 4 days, every LIV Golf tournament will consist of 54 holes over a 3-day window. Furthermore, the LIV Golf Series will also feature shotgun starts and players will be able to compete for prize money in both individual and team settings.

A total of $255 million dollars will be on offer throughout the inaugural season. This weekend at The Centurion Golf Club in London, the 48 players in the field will contend for a purse of $20 million with an additional $5 million split across the top three teams. Teams consist of 4 players, and 12 teams will participate in every tournament.

For context, next week’s US Open, which is one of just four major golf tournaments on the PGA Tour, has a purse of $12.5 million.

The conclusion of the season will take place in Miami where the top three players will receive $30 million in prize money and the team pot will be increased to $50 million.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman is hoping to attract more of the world’s top players through financial incentives and a preferred work-life balance. The addition of the team element is to further promote atmospheres similar to the Ryder and Presidents Cup.


Kyle Ireland and Tom Hackett, KSL Sports

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Opinion: Will Tony Finau Join Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Tour?