Lee Westwood: ‘No-brainer’ for multi-million pound deal in breakaway golf league

Following reports that several top players had been offered deals by Saudi Arabian investors to join a new league, Rory McIlroy re-iterated his opposition
Lee Westwood: ‘No-brainer’ for multi-million pound deal in breakaway golf league

Lee Westwood: There’s pluses and minuses for everything

Lee Westwood admits it would be a “no-brainer” if he was offered a multi-million pound contract to play in a breakaway golf league.

Following reports that several top players had been offered deals by Saudi Arabian investors to join a new league, Rory McIlroy re-iterated his opposition and labelled the proposals a “money grab” similar to football’s European Super League, which swiftly collapsed following a wide-ranging backlash.

However, at 48 Westwood is at a different stage in his career to the 32-year-old McIlroy and, although he has not been approached, the staggering sums potentially involved would interest the former world number one.

“I think there’s pluses and minuses for everything,” Westwood told a press conference ahead of the US PGA Championship.

“I think they’ve obviously got a lot of money and they’ve come out and sent a few shockwaves about and people feel threatened. The people that feel threatened are trying to combat it.

For me at nearly 50 it’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? If somebody stood here and offered me 50 million quid to play golf when I’m 48, it’s a no-brainer.

Commissioner Jay Monahan addressed the PGA Tour’s annual player meeting when reports of the offers to players emerged earlier this month and said any player signing up to the new league would face suspension and possible expulsion from the Tour.

The new league would also need to secure the rights to offer world ranking points for its events as ranking positions are key in qualifying for major championships.

“That’s something you have to take into account,” Westwood added. "When all these things come along it’s a balancing act, isn’t it? You’ve got to throw the balls in the air and juggle them for a while and see what comes up.

“You have to get all the facts together, first of all. I can see it from both sides, but I haven’t really gone into depth in it.”

PGA of America chief executive Seth Waugh believes players should be “mindful” of where the money for the proposed breakaway circuit was coming from and stressed the “great life” already available to PGA Tour members.

“Our view is that the ecosystem of the game works very well. It’s never worked better," Waugh said. “The partnerships that exist with ourselves, with the (PGA) Tour, with the European Tour and really all the golf bodies are strong.

“If someone wants to play on a Ryder Cup for the US, they’re going to need to be a member of the PGA of America, and they get that membership through being a member of the Tour.

It’s a little murkier in our championship, but to play from a US perspective you also have to be a member of the Tour and the PGA of America to play in our championship, and we don’t see that changing.

“I struggle with what they’re solving for. The game is not in crisis. I think the players have never been better served than they are right now.

“If you think about what they’ve done over the years, whether it be (former PGA Tour commissioner) Deane Beman in creating the best pension plan on the planet, and then FedEx Cup, those are all designed with the players in mind.

"So you’re going to have a great life if you can get here. You’re going to have a great life with a body that cares about you that is going to do everything they can to deliver that.

I think you’ve just got to be careful sort of what you wish for.

If that’s a better way to watch a game, a team format or less players, they should talk about it as an industry and think about whether there’s better ways to conduct tournaments.

“But I don’t think anything is hugely broken, so I’m not sure what the solve is, other than an outside body trying to disrupt and get into the game in a way that I don’t think is in the best long-term interest of the game.”

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox