Already aggressively recruiting players for his July tournament, 3M Open executive director Hollis Cavner acknowledged on Monday that the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf debuting on Thursday will impact his field of 156 players who come to TPC Twin Cities.
“Anytime there is competition, let’s face it, it affects everyone,” he said. “Are we going to lose players because of this? We probably will.”
Six-time Major winner Phil Mickelson and world No. 15 Dustin Johnson are reportedly receiving offers of more than $100 million to join the new tour, which begins near London on Friday. Its curator is Greg Norman.
Both Johnson and Mickelson played at the 3M Open – as did LIV Golf newbies and grand champions Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel, among others. This summer’s event in Blaine will take place July 18-24.
“They all played here, we definitely lost those guys,” Cavner said. “DJ always comes here. We’ve been waiting for him this year too. We’re recruiting like crazy. Hope it doesn’t hurt us. We can only do our best. We work every week. I’m after all the world.”
Cavner said he and employees of his company Pro Links “contacted” Mickelson, but did not receive a response. He said Mickelson “is more than welcome here” if he doesn’t join the new league.
Mickelson did not play the Masters in April or defend his PGA Championship title in May. He posted on social media on Monday that he was ready to play again, with LIV Golf.
He said, “I also intend to play the majors.”
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has threatened disciplinary action against Tour members who compete with LIV Golf. LIV is the Roman numeral for 54, the number of holes in each event.
“The line drawn in the sand will be a pretty hard line,” said Cavner, who traveled to TPC Twin Cities from his Florida home on Monday in his luxury bus to stay until the end of the 3M Open.
Cavner said the tournament received “good commitments” which he would not name.
He also noted the lack of a notable television contract in the new tour. Its high-tech broadcast will be streamed live on its website, YouTube and Facebook.
Cavner was asked if he thinks LIV Golf will be a seismic change for professional golf.
“I don’t think so, really not,” he said. “It has instant appeal. People talk about it. But unless their fields improve a lot, I don’t think it’s that bad.”