How the PGA Tour can stave off the latest LIV Golf threat by becoming more attractive to young stars

As LIV Golf continues to build its collection of golfers by attempting to raid current talent from the PGA Tour, they quietly made a move over the weekend that may have gone a bit unnoticed but could have the most long-last implications of anything that’s happened in the last two months. They went after the future.

LIV Golf has signed the No. 2 amateur in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra out of Oklahoma State, who will make his professional debut in its Portland event later this week. Chacarra had already announced his intent to return to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for a super senior year (an additional year of eligibility granted amid COVID-19), but the LIV contract number clearly ballooned to the point that he was forced to change his mind.

Here’s a portion of his most recent Instagram post explaining the decision.

Chacarra is not wrong about the once-in-a-lifetime part. Though the figure is unknown, Chacarra almost certainly got a contract tantamount to what Texas star and fellow Big 12 first-teamer Pierceson Coody was reportedly offered. Coody described his salvo from LIV Golf as “a multi-million-dollar offer.” 

Setting aside whatever your opinions of the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf, this development represents a massive problem for the PGA Tour as it relates to a future pipeline of the best golf talent in the world.

Currently, the PGA Tour has a narrow path into its ecosystem in which a four-year college player must finish in the top five in the designated PGA TourU standings to earn automatic status into its minor league system, the Korn Ferry Tour. The routes for those who finish outside the top five are even more constrictive.