Legacy or a bag.
That’s the decision players were forced to make when LIV Golf approached last spring with monumental offers to play in the start-up Saudi Arabia-backed league.
Some left, some stayed.
Most notably, Dustin Johnson. The two-time major winner chose to abscond the PGA Tour, an organization in which Johnson earned over $70 million, established himself as one of the best players in the world and cultivated a resume worthy of a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed also deserted the American circuit, the only difference being they were polarizing personalities. Johnson, to this day, is missed in the locker room.
Lefty and Reed?
That’s another story.
The animosity for the two Masters champions is clearly lingering on Tour, especially with Rory McIlroy, the proverbial leader in the battle against LIV Golf.
In the final episode of “Full Swing,” the new Netflix documentary series that debuted Wednesday, McIlroy made a few comments that gave viewers a window into his feelings towards Mickelson and Reed.
On the range at East Lake prior to the second round of the Tour Championship, the three-time FedEx Cup champion didn’t seem all that broken up about Reed’s decent in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“When I saw Patrick Reed went to the Asian Tour event, I was like, ‘Oh my god,’” Golf Channel broadcaster Todd Lewis said to McIlroy.
“And dropped spots in the world rankings. Beautiful. Beautiful,” McIlroy responded.
These feelings for his old Ryder Cup rival aren’t new.
At the Hero Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour in January, an event won by McIlroy with a birdie putt on the 72nd hole, their range interaction — or lack thereof — went viral.
McIlroy refused to exchange pleasantries, as any normal human being would if the man trying to shake your hand is represented by a lawyer who served you a subpoena on Christmas Eve. Reed then tossed a LIV Golf tee in his direction, his way of giving the middle finger without raising his hand to display the gesture.
After the win, McIlroy admitted the victory was “probably sweeter than it should be,” no doubt due to the man he bested by a shot.
As for Mickelson, McIlroy only needed three words.
During a conversation while receiving treatment, a masseuse said to McIlroy, “Based on your Josh Allen post, you’re a Josh Allen fan?”
Then another masseuse mentions the star QB is a PGA Tour follower.
McIlroy quickly rebutted with: “Yes, but he’s a Phil Mickelson fan, so I don’t know about that.”
“That’s true. Sounds like this guy’s losing credibility,” the masseuse responded.
After a laugh, McIlroy didn’t mince words.
“F*** you, Phil. I hope that makes it in.”
The ongoing dispute between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf is here to stay. Many hoped the two leagues could one day coexist, but that seems to be a road trip away, not an exit.
Especially when the game’s biggest name — outside of Tiger Woods — still feels this level of betrayal.