Pat Perez was his usual blunt self this week, with his words and his choice of attire.
Specifically, the 46-year-old three-time PGA Tour winner donned a shirt emblazoned with $ 100 bills Tuesday night at the welcome party for the LIV Golf Invitational Series ahead of its second event, outside of Portland, Ore. When he met with the media a few hours earlier, he wasn’t any less subtle.
“For me, it’s real simple. I’m 46. I’ve played 515 events. I’ve been on the road since 1998. I’ve been on the road longer than Matt Wolff has been alive. I have an almost 4-year-old. I missed my son’s birth last year, ”Perez said, when asked why he decided to jump from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf. “The bottom line is I’m tired of being on the road every day, and I don’t have to do it now. This opportunity [is] like winning the lottery for me. ”
It is indeed all about the Benjamins.
Of course, that much has been obvious to anyone who hasn’t been taking a nap for the past six months. When it comes to the controversial Saudi-backed golf circuit, which will tee off with its second tournament and first in the United States on Thursday, cash rules everything.
Like him or not, like LIV Golf or not, Perez at least is being honest. It’s a low bar in golf these days, between the PGA Tour’s bungling grip on the sport and the puppeteering of LIV Golf by a despotic Saudi regime to sportswash its abhorrent human-rights record. That bit of candor is more than can be said for the other guys who shared the podium with Perez this week, with their reasons for defecting ranging from dubious to downright ridiculous.
“My opinion changed,” said Brooks Koepka, who is one of a handful of players to have reportedly inked a nine-figure deal to join the new league. “That was it. You guys will never believe me, but we didn’t have the conversation till everything was done at the US Open and figured it out and just said I was going to go one way or another. Here I am. ”
What Koepka wasn’t there for: Questions about the specifics of his deal. In the same breath, he said “you can’t believe everything you hear” and said that those details are “irrelevant.”
Nor did he have any desire to answer questions about the source of the money, about a 9/11 survivors group that has blasted American players for participating or about the news that some members of host site Pumpkin Ridge quit the club over the league’s ties to Saudi Arabia.
“We’re playing golf,” Koepka quipped.
Patrick Reed’s reasons, meanwhile, reached a different level.
“To have an opportunity where I can play with some of the top players in the world and on top of it have an opportunity that I feel like for me is more suitable to see who the best player is that week, because everyone starts at the exactly the same time, ”he said, noting the shotgun start. “There is no such thing as a draw anymore. Now you’re on the golf course the exact same time. Whatever the weather is that day, that’s what you’re playing.
“And I just feel like it’s more of a family environment out here.”
Then there was Bryson DeChambeau. He, like Perez, at least has said the move was a business decision.
But part of that business also included doing the work of his benefactors.
“I understand people’s decisions on their comments and whatnot,” he said. “We’re golfers at the end of the day, and I think I respect everybody’s opinion. That’s the most important thing people can hopefully understand out of me is I do respect it. But golf is a force for good, and I think as time goes on, hopefully people will see the good that they are doing and what they are trying to accomplish rather than looking at the bad that’s happened before. I think moving on from that is important, and going and continuing to move forward in a positive light is something that could be a force for good for the future of the game. ”
Moving on is inherently how sportswashing works. Even leaving that element aside, though, another question remains:
As more players inevitably take the money and run from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, will fans go with them?
We shall see.