‘They took all the villians:’ How LIV recruiting has hurt PGA Tour, pro says

Harry Higgs thinks the PGA Tour has a problem without some of the LIV defects.

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With a certain breed of players migrating to LIV Golf, the PGA Tour has a problem, says Harry Higgs.

“We joke back and forth, they [LIV] took all the a**holes,” Higgs told Golfweek. “They took all the villains. And that’s a problem.”

Why? Because fewer “villians” means less drama, which means fewer juicy storylines for the media to chase, Higgs said.

“They took some of our best players, too,” Higgs said. “But those who have left haven’t put this in a spot where it’s like, oh, sh*t, you know, all the great players are gone and playing somewhere else. That’s not the case. But they took some of the ones who would have stories written about them maybe in a negative light with kind of negative connotations. And OK, that’s kind of a driving force for people to read your story or for people to turn their television on. I struggle with this.”

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Higgs, who lost his PGA Tour card after last season, had been asked what he would do if he was given the reins to a golf television network. The 31-year-old said he wasn’t sure if he would be that good at it, but explained part of the issue with golf media coverage today is a Tiger Woods hangover.

“I’m not saying that people weren’t, because they were, but really no one had to be any good at their jobs within the golf kind of landscape because Tiger was playing, Tiger was winning and s**t just sold because he was showing up,” he said. “We are certainly entering an era where that’s going to happen less and less, if at all. I’m obviously rooting for it to happen as much as it possibly can, because that just helps out everybody involved.”

Then Higgs hit on the division between the Tour and its Saudi-backed rival, LIV Golf, which launched last summer and is set to begin its second season next month. He said he didn’t agree with guys jumping over to the new league but he didn’t blame them for doing it. That said, he said, the upstart circuit has left the Tour in a precarious position.

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Higgs added that many players’ stories get overlooked by golf media because, on the surface, they don’t seem that interesting. At the same time, other players, he said, are reluctant to open up.

“For a long, long time some of the satirical voices in the game were giving us s**t for being a tour of class acts,” he said. “Yes, freaking 98 percent of the guys out on Tour are pretty boring. Or it seems that way. But they’re really not. They certainly go dive into their boring hole where they’re not going to say any bad things about anybody when the camera goes on, or when somebody has a microphone in their hand.

“They’re just not going to do it because it won’t serve them. So it is certainly a commitment from even us players to be more open, and you know, let more people in to tell our stories.”

It’s the second time in as many months Higgs has gone on the record with his displeasure for how the PGA Tour is being portrayed. In December, he said on the No Laying Up Podcast the Tour’s media partners were doing a “s**t job of telling the story of what’s going on.”

For context, Higgs was discussing the Tour’s recently announced “elevated events,” now called designated events, and how the Tour is using them to counteract LIV Golf.

“So if we got a[n] … elevated schedule and the lesser ones are not elevated, but if you play good golf in those, you can get into the elevated ones, that’s awesome,” Higgs said on the podcast, which you can listen to in full here. “That’s something I’m sure you would watch, I’m sure almost every listener would love to watch and follow along. But they make it too f***ing hard to follow along. I don’t trust them to tell the story the way that it should be. I cannot wait to watch — I hope I’m not playing in it — I cannot wait to watch Q School next year. To just see the difference in like the top five guys — the top five finishers get to the PGA Tour. That adds a zero to every check that they make for the next year. It’s af***ing zero. It adds zero. And I don’t trust any of them to portray to me in the appropriate way to captivate me to stay and watch for four days. I just don’t trust them to tell the story the way that it should be.

“And I think they have a lot of great people that can, they just don’t do it, or maybe they don’t have enough time, I don’t know.”

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Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.

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