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LIV Golf laughably claimed that “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery” in response to the PGA Tour’s recent radical changes to its schedule that will go into effect in 2024, as if no cut, big money events like the World Golf Championships, Zozo Championship and CJ Cup didn’t exist on Tour before upstart circuit joined the fray last year.

Ahead of this week’s flagship event at TPC Sawgrass, 2021 Players champion Justin Thomas was asked about the difference between the Tour’s new designated events and what LIV is doing. He didn’t hold back.

“Well, we have an astronomically higher amount of quality players than they do in their events,” he said with a laugh. “I think all of us have not been shy to say it that, you know, this is stuff that we’ve been trying to do and have worked on. Obviously got sped up a crazy amount due to what was going on in the outside.

“I don’t know, I mean if you’re just going to single out those events and have them only be the events we have, then, yeah, it’s extremely similar,” Thomas said of the no-cut designated events slated for 2024. “But there’s a lot more going on over the course of an entire year on the PGA Tour than just the elevated events, I would say.”

The changes to the schedule were no doubt in response to the threat posed by LIV Golf, even the Tour’s number one spokesperson Rory McIlroy would agree.

“I’m not going to sit here and lie; I think the emergence of LIV or the emergence of a competitor to the PGA Tour has benefited everyone that plays elite professional golf,” explained McIlroy. “I think when you’ve been the biggest golf league in the biggest market in the world for the last 60 years, there’s not a lot of incentive to innovate. This has caused a ton of innovation at the PGA Tour.

“LIV coming along, it’s definitely had a massive impact on the game,” he continued, “but I think everyone who’s a professional golfer is going to benefit from it going forward.”

It just depends which product you prefer.

Photos: 2023 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass

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