LIV's 'hostile takeover' must cease before turns can talk, Davis Love says

LIV’s ‘hostile takeover’ must cease before turns can talk, Davis Love says

Greg Norman, right, and Dustin Johnson at LIV Golf’s Bangkok event last month.

getty pictures

Earlier this week Rory McIlroy made waves when he proclaimed that at least one significant move needs to happen before the PGA Tour and LIV Golf can begin to find some semblance of common ground: Greg Norman’s dismissal from his dual post as LIV’s CEO and commissioner.

“Greg needs to go,” McIlroy said from the DP World Tour Championship. “I think he just needs to exit stage left. He’s made his mark, but I think now is the right time to sort of say, ‘Look, you’ve got this thing off the ground, but no one is going to talk unless there’s an adult in the room that can actually try to mend fences.’”

If McIlroy has become the de facto leader of the PGA Tour loyalist movement, Davis Love III has become one of McIlroy’s most vocal lieutenants. On Wednesday, at the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic in Sea Island, Ga., Love was asked about whether he, too, thought it was time for Norman to step down.

“I don’t know how to answer to that,” Love said. “Again, if they say, Hey, maybe we made a mistake and maybe we should drop a lawsuit and maybe we should quit stealing your players, then we might want to talk to them, but I don’t think that’s their model.”

Greg Norman of Australia and Davis Love III of the USA crossing the bridge from the 6th green to the 7th tee during the second round of the US PGA Championships at the Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

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Love was referring to LIV’s antitrust suit in which it is seeking “punitive damages against the PGA Tour for its tortious interference with LIV Golf’s prospective business relationships.” As for the players LIV has lured away, they have come from all walks of the game.

“They’re recruiting college players, they’re recruiting PGA Tour players, they’re recruiting DP World Tour players,” Love said. “So as long as they’re actively trying to, you know, hostile takeover, take our players away, get them to break the rules and go somewhere else, I don’t think it matters who’s running it.”

That pro golf has turned into a season of Succession (or is trillion a better comp?) is a twist few saw coming even 18 months ago. But then along came LIV, and a lawsuit from LIV players and LIV itself and then a countersuit from the PGA Tour in which the Tour argued: “There is no actual injury to the plaintiffs here, and no violation of the law. LIV, by its own admission, has succeeded in attracting numerous elite professional golfers to participate in its new league. LIV has held numerous events with full fields and has announced a full season for 2023.”

And this week? Word of yet another suit!

Jon Rahm speaks at press conference at 2022 DP World Tour Championship

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On Monday, attorney Larry Klayman — aka Patrick Reed’s lawyer — filed a complaint in a Florida courthouse that alleges the Official Golf World Ranking, along with the PGA and DP World tours, have conspired to neuter LIV “in its infancy” by denying its players world ranking points.

Indeed, the world ranking has been at the heart of much LIV angst as it tries to secure its footing in the pro-golf landscape. Without ranking points, most LIV players will find it difficult to qualify for the majors. The world ranking is reviewing LIV’s accreditation application, but it’s unknown when that process will conclude. (On Tuesday, Jon Rahm made a tough week for the ranking tougher still when he decried his new algorithm as “laughable.”)

You still with us?

These are tense, complicated times in professional golf, and as Love sees it, not much is likely to improve until LIV lays down it legal arms.

“If … it’s a year or two at least we’re looking at a lawsuit that we’re having to defend, and [LIV is] actively trying to get more of our players and college players to play on their tour, so we have to defend,” he said. “I don’t think we sit down with anybody unless they say, hey, we give.”

alan bastable

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.

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