Brooks Koepka recently discovered a symbolic horse’s head in his bed, an offer he couldn’t resist from the Saudi dismemberment aficionados behind the breakaway circuit, since back when he was telling buddies that he was emphatically out on the LIV Golf series. We must presume the offer was sufficiently high for Koepka to sleep easily because he does not tolerate fools kindly and has publicly disapproved of LIV Golf’s key players, Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson, and Golf Saudi CEO Majed Al Sorour.

For those who are familiar with Koepka, one quick incident at the U.S. Open last week provided early and conclusive proof that he had chosen LIV Golf. He approached Mickelson on the practise range and gave him a fist bump and a little chat. It won’t be the only time he does something that he would have found repulsive not too long ago. Whether they are golfers or assassination teams in distant consulates, the Saudis demand commitment from their team members.

Koepka’s decision to join LIV Golf symbolises a humiliation for him, even though he will be reluctant to acknowledge it, in addition to the fact that he must now work at the beck and call of someone he despises (with good reason, to be honest). He has always thought of himself as more of a golfer than an athlete, but this is an admission that he is neither, that he is just a showman destined to compete in exhibition matches against retired veterans and unknown kids whom he has long deemed unsuitable to sniff his jockstrap.

The implied admission is there for a reason: Koepka’s body has been deteriorating for years, and a persistent injury has brought him dangerously near to surgery and a protracted layoff. He may have made a promise to the Saudis, but if he keeps it, they will be lucky.

Beyond their evident desire for money, there is a trend among the players at LIV Golf. They nearly always lack the physical longevity (Koepka, DeChambeau), senility (Mickelson, Westwood, Poulter), declining talent (McDowell, Kaymer), or disinterest (Johnson, who would rather be fishing) to regularly compete against the best players in the world on the PGA Tour. They are retired stars who were outperformed a few miles back by more talented, younger, and healthier rivals. Any implication that he is one of them will offend a haughty man like Koepka, but that is true.

One of the most predictable features of this story is competitive relevancy, which, combined with the media’s feckless assistance to the Saudis in fabricating a narrative that momentum has inevitably shifted in their favour, is racing to the gate with flimsy rumours. Other recent trends are also important to note.

purchasing critical opinions, for instance. Paul Casey is where it all began. He abstained from the inaugural Saudi International event in 2019 as a UNICEF ambassador out of moral obligation. Casey was sufficiently compensated the following year to justify his participation as an act of engagement. It still exists today. Not least because to his well-known disdain of Mickelson, Pat Perez openly stiff-armed LIV Golf months ago, but he, too, was bought off.

And lastly, Koepka, who repeatedly exchanged sharp words with Saudi officials after rejecting their offers in 2021. They eventually discovered his price as well.

The heat map of player management companies is another evident trend. Consider GSE Worldwide, which has made millions of dollars in fees by luring clients into the Saudi rat hole. These clients include DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, and Branden Grace, among many others, and many more of their assets are either rumoured or are slated to be acquired soon. And if you need further proof that Jay Monahan can’t win, look no farther than Grayson Murray, a GSE client who hasn’t been given to the Saudis.

Following the player meeting on Tuesday, opinions on the range at TPC River Highlands were divided. Even from journeymen who will have to work harder for their living, there were words of support for Monahan and confidence in the improvements he is advocating. But that was muted by resentment that he hadn’t publicly slugged the Saudis frequently enough. That critique can be applied to both parties. Players needed to stop being passive and start competing for their Tour, Monahan advised.

For some of the present participants, whose peripheral awareness may not be as high as it should be, the meeting had two sobering moments. If and when the suspended players or their backers file a lawsuit, Monahan was asked who would pay the attorneys’ fees. You will, was the response. According to the commissioner, the Tour is an organisation with a group of members, and any legal action taken by one player against the Tour is also taken (and defended by) all other players.

He was also questioned about the actions being done by the major championships, each of which is overseen by an entity that Monahan does not control. Given the uncertainty surrounding the subject and the potential for legal repercussions if the majors are seen as aiding the Tour in eliminating a rival, the answer was uncomplicated: nothing, at least not yet. It served as a reminder of the significant responsibility that ultimately belongs to the majors. Both sides rely on them not acting; one side wants them to. However, players on both sides claim that without their support, the majors cannot present a credible field.

A small group of prominent players were discussing taking a clear, united public statement against LIV Golf and in support of the PGA Tour before Monahan convened his members Tuesday morning in Connecticut and urged them to speak out.