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On the Fringe | Saudi cash might put school stars in robust spot | Sports



DUBLIN, Ohio — Texas A&M senior Sam Bennett was a mix of pleasure and exhaustion upon making it by 36-hole U.S. Open qualifying for the primary time. Still to return is the hardest check in golf.

All that is likely to be a breeze contemplating what might await.

The temptation of Saudi cash from the LIV Golf Invitational collection has but to current itself to Bennett, the No. 5 participant on the planet newbie rating.

“I think they know that I’m coming back for my fifth year,” he stated.

And if he wasn’t?

Bennett thought for a second. U.S. Amateur champion James Piot is in London this week, having acquired a signing bonus even earlier than he will get to play for as a lot as $25 million in prize cash. So is Andy Ogletree, one other former U.S. Amateur champion.

And then he broke right into a smile and stated, “Yeah, I’d probably take it.”

Where else would he have entry to riches past his desires proper out of school with out ever having to show himself?

Piot has missed the reduce in all 5 of his PGA Tour occasions. Ogletree has missed 5 cuts within the seven occasions he has performed since he was low newbie on the 2020 Masters.

Rory McIlroy was not totally correct in February when providing his assessments of the tried Saudi-funded takeover.

“Dead in the water,” he described it when Dustin Johnson and a small parade of different prime gamers pledged assist to the PGA Tour. And then Greg Norman waved an excessive amount of cash at Johnson — The Daily Telegraph places his signing price at $150 million — for him to maintain his phrase.

“Who’s left? Who’s left to go? I just can’t see any reason why anyone would go,” McIlroy stated.

One motive: Money, a seemingly infinite provide of it from the Public Investment Fund managed by the Saudi Arabia authorities.

McIlroy additionally referred to it as a pre-Champions Tour circuit, and that holds water. Of the six main champions enjoying exterior London this week, all are 37 or older. Most of the others will not be missed, if anybody was listening to them within the first place.

But the faculty scene would seem like ripe for recruiting.

They usually are not PGA Tour members and wouldn’t fall underneath any self-discipline Commissioner Jay Monahan has in thoughts for the gamers who’ve defected. Even if they’ve a pleasant tools deal and some company sponsors, that may’t match what Norman has to supply.

“I feel bad to put that pressure on a kid,” Xander Schauffele stated. “Your parents have a lot of influence. They mold you up to that point, and then you have those numbers thrown around. I think it’s brutal for them to be dealing with those numbers early on.”

Even because the launch of this 54-hole, no-cut, shotgun-start collection was solely two days away, so many questions remained that transcend instant ramifications.

Will the LIV Golf Invitational get world rating factors? Even if it did for the primary one, the sector tasks to be equal with an opposite-field occasion on the PGA Tour.

Of larger concern is how the majors will reply.

And so the battle for faculty gamers is whether or not to take cash now and be financially set, whereas probably giving up an opportunity to get into the majors, apart from going by the grind of qualifying on the U.S. and British Opens.

Take the cash now they usually might all the time wait to start their profession on the PGA Tour, ranging from scratch with Korn Ferry Tour qualifying faculty or attempting to Monday qualify in PGA Tour occasions. That’s the highway Patrick Reed took way back.

But the nice ones know they may very well be contending for majors not lengthy after they get out of school. Jordan Spieth proved that. He was midway to the Grand Slam his third yr out of Texas. Collin Morikawa graduated from Cal in 2019. Two years later, he already had gained two majors and was on the cusp of being No. 1 on the planet.

Davis Riley needed to spend two years on the Korn Ferry Tour as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic postpone commencement to the massive leagues for a yr. As a rookie, he already has misplaced in a playoff and is No. 21 within the FedEx Cup.

“You see guys like Justin (Thomas) and Jordan contending in majors a few years out of being in school,” Riley stated. “There’s plenty of money to play for out here. Purses are going up. I guess some guys like to chase the dollar, some guys like to chase the trophy. I can’t speak for other guys. I just want to be out there. I’ve dreamed my whole life of coming out here and playing on the PGA Tour. I want to win tournaments on the PGA Tour.”

Are others that devoted to what they all the time needed, even when again then it was the one choice? The Norman group is banking on gamers seeing their friends with far much less capability getting far extra money and wanting a bit of it.

Bennett has a tattoo on the within of his left arm, phrases of recommendation his father gave him earlier than Alzheimer’s robbed him of their capability to speak and ultimately claimed his life.

He had his father write it down, and he transferred it to his arm so he can see it at any time when he units up over a shot.

“Don’t wait to do something.”

The fifth yr at Texas A&M is making him wait. This time, that may not be a nasty factor.

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