If there’s one thing that golf has realised in its dealings with Saudi Arabia, it’s that they’re not happy just being partners.
Golf has been a prior target of the Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is now the major stakeholder in Newcastle United.
The idea that the PIF is autonomous of the brutal Saudi regime is utterly spurious. It’s the main pillar to bolstering and even expanding their power base once the oil – or the oil market – dwindles.
The Saudis’ ham-fisted attempt to take over golf
According to multiple sources @PGATOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan told players Tuesday night at @WellsFargoGolf that any player joining the Saudi-backed golf league will face immediate suspension and possible expulsion from the PGA Tour. Monahan taking this threat seriously.
— Todd Lewis (@ToddLewisGC) May 5, 2021
The PIF was behind the Saudi’s investment in golf through firstly a European Tour event. They paid good appearance money and got some top players to play, but it didn’t move the needle even a jot.
So after just a couple of years they changed tack completely – and just tried to take golf over.
The Premier Golf League was initially a partnership with other investment funds. They splintered off to go it alone with the SGL because, well, the Saudi “royal family” are not accustomed to sharing anything with anyone.
The big tours, obviously interested by the money to start, quickly realised what the Saudis were up to. The SGL has not entirely gone away, but its access to the top players – without whom, there’s no show – has been effectively blocked. Unless the Saudis are really prepared to waste everyone’s time with a three-year plus lawsuit.
So they’ve changed tack and reportedly bought out the Asian Tour to gain a foothold there. But the idea that this could develop into a rival to the PGA Tour, simply by throwing money at it, is fairly laughable.
But this is what the Saudis, since they “opened up to the world”, do now. And they’ll try the same in football.
Saudi involvement increases the chances of a Super League
Newcastle United: UK blocks details of Premier League talks to protect Saudi relations https://t.co/GxziskT2AO
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) October 8, 2021
The Super League premise failed, because football’s the people’s game and the fans wouldn’t stand for it.
Or so the standard narrative goes. Only the Super League has not gone away, and if anything the introduction of the Saudis to the table will strengthen it when it inevitably resurfaces.
But this time, as the Qataris at PSG and Abu Dhabi ownership of Manchester City know only too well from local experience, the Saudis will simply aim to take charge of the whole shooting match.
So yes, the Saudis publicly executing teenagers for “apostasy”, brutally supressing women and murdering dissidents, journalists and people who simply adhere in a different sect of Islam within their own borders can all be safely ignored if you’re of a mind.
But they’re not going to stop here. They want the biggest seat at the table, and they think they can buy it. Newcastle United is just the start.
Tiger sighted, but still early days
Tiger Woods — with a sleeve on his right leg — watching his son at a junior event this weekend in Florida.
Source: Mack Williams/Facebook pic.twitter.com/hylyGwHeCa
— Kendall Baker (@kendallbaker) October 9, 2021
I’m sure it’s absolutely coincidental that the first picture of Tiger Woods standing unaided since his accident in February emerged right on the 25th anniversary of his breakthrough professional win.
The pictures are candid enough to prove that. Woods was pictured with his son at a junior golf event – not invasively like before, thankfully.
He did not have crutches or a knee brace – simply a long “sleeve” on his right leg. His legs did look scrawny. But you were reminded that pre-workout-and-ripped Tiger had the most unnaturally thin lower legs on a golfer one can ever remember.
Tiger’s PR people would surely want any big fanfare at his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in November. There will be those immediately start imagining him in a Green Jacket in April, let alone back in competitive action.
Let’s actually hope it’s not too soon. Some may feel time’s a wastin’ ith Tiger now 45. Past experience of his lengthy injury history suggests he does much better the longer he waits to return.
Phil Mickelson, who does have a much better injury history than his rival, won the PGA this year at 50. It’ll all still be here when Tiger’s properly ready, if he’s still of a mind to try.
They can’t control what we say
Last word – promise – on the glorious explosion of matchplay we had this summer, with the Ryder, Solheim, Walker and Curtis Cups all in the same year for once.
But among the delight at the best form of golf, there’s been an audible sour note. It’s been the first year we’ve had to endure the desecration of golf’s rich language, introduced by the imagination-free blazers at the USGA with the extremely regrettable approval of the R&A.
All-square, halved and hazard were expunged from to be replaced by tie, tied and penalty area. As I indicate above, I’m assuming this was the USGA’s doing in their continuing drive to “simplify” golf. For the five or six people who are too stupid to guess what all-square, level or a half might mean.
— Christina Kim (@TheChristinaKim) May 8, 2021
I’m seriously annoyed with the R&A for agreeing to this. I doubt the new terms were in use during the club’s Autumn Meeting prior to the Dunhill. And quite right.
I and fellow crusties – and I’m pleased to note Ewen Murray of Sky – have roundly ignored this utterly unnecessary change, ludicrously enshrined in the rule book in a frankly fascistic attempt to control what we say.
I’ll go right along saying what I’ve always done, and I hope the great many like-minded will as well. They can’t force us to dumb down just because they want to.
The penalty area is what Billy Gilmour was just inside when he was felled by and reckless Israeli on Saturday. It doesn’t exist in golf.
And the only tie in our game is the one that is in occasional danger of soup stains.