Schupak: ‘Free agency’ in golf is not everything Greg Norman dreamed it would be
"The free hand is finally coming to golf," proclaimed Greg Norman at the debut of LIV Golf last month.
"I'm so happy that we gave the game of golf free rein," he said on another occasion.
To hear Pat Perez, one of the LIV signers, tell it, he was saved from being a tied servant on the PGA Tour — despite one who has made more than $28 million during his career.
“Last year I missed the birth of my son. On August 18th I get a call that my wife is going into labour. I'm in Jersey. I'm preparing for the FedEx Playoffs. I'm 116 on the list. I can not go. I can't miss it I can't go back I can't go back and forth without spending 150 grand on a private flight. I don't. So I had to suck on it and miss the birth of my son," Perez said. "And you know luckily I made it and improved my status by playing well but it still sucked."
The only thing is that Perez did not have to miss the birth of his son. He chose to play the Northern Trust. With a top 125 finish, he already had his tour ticket packed for next season. If he wanted to qualify for the BMW Championship (Top 70) or Tour Championship (Top 30) the following week, he would have had to go on because he hadn't played well enough that season to secure his spot. Tour veteran Billy Horschel took offense at Perez.
"PGA Tour says at least 15 events, all you have to do is play 15 events and you keep your card in those 15 events, then that's fine. If you want to play better or play more to get a chance to win the FedExCup, then so be it. So be it. Nobody made you play that first playoff event to miss family commitments. Nobody has,” said Horschel. “Yes, we are independent contractors; We sign a contract with the PGA Tour to meet certain PGA Tour requirements. But we have the ability to shape our schedule.”
Horschel noted that if he plays at the Genesis Scottish Open this week and the British Open next week, he will be away from his family for five consecutive weeks.
"I have made the decision not to see my wife and children for five weeks. Is that why I cry? No,” he said. "I see. I'm living my dream of playing golf professionally and supporting my family financially."
Here's the thing: Perez was an independent contractor; Now he is an employee. This is not an employer you want to upset. He has signed a contract to play all eight LIV golf events. Next year, that number is set to rise to 14. Has Norman really achieved his dream of more than 30 years?
Both the PGA Tour and the Europe-based DP World Tour denied member requests for releases to attend LIV events, and have since penalized players who violated their tour regulations. In one of the rich ironies, the same players who said they wanted to play less have gone to court so they can play more on the DP World Tour. (By the way, I love the nickname for her - "The Sour 16".)
"We want to coexist" with "all of the current ecosystems within the game of golf, and that's what we want to do with the PGA Tour," Norman told Fox News last month. What exactly would that look like in his fantasy world? "I would say support the players ... and give their members the opportunity to go to other places," he said. “They are independent contractors. You have every right to do so.”
The story goes on
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