PGA stars should be irate over merger with LIV Tour

What former PGA player & Washington County native Steve Wheatcroft told The Fan of the decision
Rory McIlroy and Jay Monahan
Photo credit Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – He turned pro over 20 years ago and won nearly $3 million during his time on the PGA Tour. Trinity HS graduate Steve Wheatcroft said he thought it was a joke when he heard the PGA and LIV Tours were merging.

The announcement coming Tuesday morning and Wheatcroft wasn’t the only one caught off guard. It was everybody, including those currently on the PGA Tour, even those sacrificed big personal gain to stay. Wheatcroft tells 93.7 The Fan he talked to a couple of friends of his who work closely with PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan and they only found out Monday night.

There is a chain of command built into the PGA Tour rules as to not hurt the players. It is set up so no one person can do something to hurt the players on Tour, not even the Commissioner. PGA star Rory McIlroy and all-time great Tiger Woods didn’t know even though they showed support for the PGA Tour and its Commissioner. McIlroy became the defacto spokesperson for the ethics of the PGA Tour, asked at every event about those who bolted and why it was good to stay and not leave for the questionable ethics behind the money associated with the Saudi funded upstart league.

“Tiger I don’t think has to say a word,” Wheatcroft told 93.7 The Fan. “Rory was the one who put his career on the line, came out and was a staunch defender of the tour. He should be irate.”

Jon Rahm should be irate-Scheffler, Justin Thomas. They thought they were doing the right thing. They thought they had the Tour behind them. The Tour leaned on them hard during those times and used them, to be blatantly honest. Then to make them sacrifice 400-500 million dollars (what some of the top PGA players were reportedly offered to leave for the LIV) and then you turn around and backstab them and don’t tell any of them this was coming. I was shocked.”

“Jay (Monahan-PGA Commissioner) has been doing a good job, but this one he screwed up on royally.”

Wheatcroft, like so many professional golfers and golf fans, still has many questions of how this is going to work. He doesn’t think there will be animosity between LIV and PGA Tour players when they enter the same tournaments. He did note to where it was weird for the LIV guys earlier this year at the Masters, it’s now going to be weird for the PGA guys because they likely will have a chip on their shoulders and be irritated. The anger wouldn’t be player to player, but fixated squarely on Monahan.

He says players like Warren, Ohio native Jason Kokrak made the right decision. They were guys who were not PGA stars that moved over to the LIV Tour and Wheatcroft said they set up their families and charities for life.

Does the outcome of a merger between the tours mean outspoken LIV player and recruiter Phil Mickelson is some sort of hero?

“I definitely don’t think he’s the hero,” Wheatcroft told 93.7 The Fan. “He thinks he is the hero. I think there were other names-the Dustin Johnson’s, the Brooks Koepka’s, the guys who still had a legacy to build. Granted, (Mickelson) won the PGA and he still has game. He was kind of fading as far as the PGA Tour was concerned. Phil did get a lot more vocal recently, but I think his legacy is hurt in a big way.”

He believes it will be hard for Mickelson, for instance, to ever be a Ryder Cup captain even though if you look at his accomplishments, it should be a no-brainer. Too many bridges were burned for him to recover, but it likely won’t be like that for the rest of the players. He would expect understanding from peers and probably warm receptions for most of the players who jumped to the LIV Tour from fans.

There was one bottom line that fuels most decisions. While the PGA Tour had funds, and Wheatcroft knows this to be the case, they didn’t have LIV money. Eventually if it continued to be a head-to-head battle, LIV would have won out. They seem to have an endless supply of money that even the sponsors of the long-established PGA Tour could never match.

So, will golf fans and golfers look back at this day in a positive light?

“As much as I hate to say it, I think it will be good for the game in the long run,” Wheatcroft told 93.7 The Fan. “I really do. I think it’s bringing the best players in the world together more often. The money is going to go through the roof.”

And wasn’t what this was all about anyway.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports