PLAYA DEL CARMEN – Since the PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf battle for professional golf supremacy began, one of the big questions has been: can the two entities co-exist?
One course thinks it can bridge the gap between the two.
Back in November, Golfweek was first to report after 16 years of hosting a PGA Tour event on Mexico’s Rivera Maya, Mayakoba’s El Camaleon Golf Club would host LIV Golf’s first event of its 2023 season, which takes place this week, Feb. 24-26. Borja Escalada, the CEO of RLH Properties which owns the Mayakoba resort, touts the property as a “pioneer” and believes his resort could be that bridge.
“We have a common value which is developing a sport that we all love. So for us, it will be an honor to be able to host both events,” said Escalada. “That’s something that is not possible because of the actual positions of one or the other.”
The idea of hosting both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf is more pipe dream than possibility at this point.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has drawn his line in the sand when it comes to those who do business with LIV, especially after the ongoing legal battles in U.S. federal court. The Tour’s World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, won last November by Russel Henley, won’t return to the resort in 2024, but LIV Golf will as part of a multi-year contract.
“They know this is their home. We’re super grateful for the event they did and would love to continue doing that event,” Escalada said of the World Wide Technology Championship. “Unfortunately, today, maybe both events are not compatible, but maybe in the future that will happen.”
Escalada said Mayakoba was interested in LIV for a handful of reasons, including the team concept and LIV’s Golf But Louder slogan. Not to mention the fact that LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman has a strong relationship with the resort as the course designer for El Camaleon.
“The critical point for us is whether we are doing the proper thing for development of the sport,” said Escalada. “Is there anything that we can do where we can continue to development the sport and at the same time open a huge window to the world to show what Mexico, what Mayakoba has to offer?”
Escalada believes Mayakoba is top one in the world when it comes to its hotels, residences and sustainability. For that that reason, he also wanted to have a top-tier event. When the Tour announced its 12 elevated events outside the majors and Players Championship as part of its vast schedule change for 2023, the Mayakoba tournament wasn’t one of them.
“Obviously losing the FedEx Cup points from the fall season and having this new concept of the postseason, being part of, let’s say preseason or qualifier for the rest of the season, obviously changes the status of the tournament,” explained Escalada.
“We have had very fluid and transparent conversations,” he continued. “We explained to (the Tour) our concerns with the change … also we explained to them that we think this is also part of our DNA, to continue being pioneers and exploring and trying to bring new things to anything we do.”
“(The Tour) was super respectful with our decision. I think that that has been always a common way in which both organizations have been treating each other,” said Escalada. “We are super respectful with their decisions, obviously, some of them we do not like, even some of them we do not agree with them, but we are super respectful.”
As the first course to host a PGA Tour event outside the United States and Canada, Escalada believes the Tour owes Mayakoba a lot of credit and appreciation. He reciprocates those feelings for the Tour, which helped “bring Mayakoba to the world.”
“So we will always be grateful, we will always be the home of the PGA Tour and anyone that wants to host an event,” added Escalada. “We want to continue bringing to Mexico the best quality of events we can, because that’s the opportunity to improve the world.”