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‘I’m not ready to do that’: Adam Scott explains nuances of his LIV decision
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — At the Genesis Invitational in February, players were mulling the merits of LIV in public for the first time. Tiger Woods had made his pro-PGA Tour stance known. Jon Rahm pledged fealty to the Tour. Max Homa explained the appeal of playing the circuit he’d grown up watching. Rory McIlroy called LIV “dead in the water.”
But Adam Scott? He had an open mind.
“Depending what your goals are in golf, I think the schedule is very appealing,” Scott said in his pre-tournament press conference that week. “From that side of things, I would consider doing that, for sure. From a lifestyle side of things, yes.”
As the summer wore on, LIV signed a handful of Scott’s contemporaries. Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell were among those who fit a comparable profile who signed up for the circuit’s first event in London. As a popular fortysomething international player and Masters winner, he appeared to be in LIV’s wheelhouse.
But even as more names came out, Scott’s wasn’t among them. Instead, he increasingly caucused with the PGA Tour. He was in attendance at the players meeting in Delaware. He praised the changes coming out of it. As Joaquin Niemann’s choice came down to the wire at the Tour Championship, he played a practice round with Scott. No doubt the two had plenty to discuss.
This week, Scott, who is 42, is representing Australia at his 10th Presidents Cup. Most of his teammates are rookies. And there’s no avoiding the fact that plenty of his would-be teammates have joined LIV. The latest batch to jump included Niemann and two of Scott’s countrymen: Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith.
When Scott took to the podium Tuesday, I asked him why he hadn’t joined them.
“Well, it’s a big conversation that I really don’t think I should enter in at the moment,” he began.
But then he continued on.
“It is what it is,” he said. “They’re doing what they want to do and the PGA Tour will continue to do what it does and try to put out the best product. Why I’m still with the PGA Tour is because it suits me best to still be on the PGA Tour. It’s as simple as that, really. The one thing I haven’t grasped is giving up my entire professional life and trying to achieve these things here and just leaving it behind. I’m obviously not ready to do that.”
Then he smiled.
“I may never be, as well, to be clear. I just think it’s a hurdle that — well, it hasn’t really been presented to me, anyway.”
Let’s parse through that. Scott’s appraisal of LIV is interesting because he’s not automatically opposed to the idea. But he’s been through so much in the existing PGA Tour ecosystem that it’s tough to just let it go. That was the phrase that stuck with me. Leaving it behind. Much of the LIV-PGA Tour discourse feels like screaming. Scott’s version is clear-eyed. His distinctions are subtle. And he’s a bit of a romantic, too.
The reasoning echoed that of Woods’, who has explained that his loyalty to the PGA Tour comes, in part, from his own experiences. “That’s where my legacy is,” Woods said last winter. Scott strolled down memory lane in Tuesday’s media availability, riffing on Cups as far back as his debut in 2003.
That doesn’t mean the schism is settled in Scott’s mind. It just means he’s had to stay as focused as possible. Asked about LIV’s quest for world ranking points, he reminded us that like everyone in the golf world, little else has been on his mind.
“I had to stop being so deep into thinking about it, to be honest. It’s not really my job, and it’s not really my priority to think about,” he said.
“I don’t know. There’s a criteria; if they meet it, then yes. If they don’t, they’ll have to figure out how to meet the criteria. Generally, I just hope all that is objective and clear, and it’s all fair either way is what I hope, because I think that’s what we’ve always kind of thought golf stands for.”
That doesn’t mean LIV is done pursuing Scott. Fellow Aussie and LIV CEO and commissioner Greg Norman was asked by the Sydney Morning Herald whether the circuit was still interested in Scott. He said that decision would fall, in part, to Smith and Leishman.
“How can I answer that question? There were discussions early on with Adam and I think right now with Marc and Cam being the principals of Team Australia, I think quite honestly it’s over to them,” he said. Scott gave an interview to the Herald as well. The gist of it was the same as the message he delivered in the Quail Hollow press room: He’s not ready to walk away.
“I’ve focused on the majors really for 20 years and for me it hasn’t been an overnight decision to say, ‘Well, my mind changes now after 20 years,’” he said. “Although I’m older, I will still give myself time to let this landscape evolve and settle down. We will find out where we end up and what’s going on. I’ve tried, at least for the last couple of months, to remove the emotion and do what I can do, and that’s play golf.”
His next chance to do that comes on Thursday.