The 2023 Masters has added intrigue with PGA Tour and LIV Golf players competing against each other. But both sides have been cordial so far.
NBC’s Mike Tirico, who is leading SiriusXM’s coverage of the Masters from Augusta National this week, joined Dan Patrick to preview the major. During the interview, Patrick asked about LIV vs PGA tensions hovering over Augusta National. But Tirico downplayed the narrative.
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) April 5, 2023
“I thought it would be more from just the field for the week, and I think it’s been diffused pretty quickly,” Tirico said of any potential tension with LIV and PGA golfers competing in the same field. “I think the guys got here, and it feels different. Now maybe if the U.S. Open or the PGA [Championship] was first, it might be a little more knife’s edge and a little more tension. But I think nobody wants to be the guy who is at the Masters and made it about LIV versus the PGA Tour and not the Masters tournament. It just doesn’t feel like the place to do it.”
Despite being banned by the PGA Tour, 18 golfers from the Saudi-backed LIV series received invitations to play at the Masters. Six of those 18 attended Tuesday night’s Champions Dinner and according to Tirico, they mixed in with the PGA players just fine. “There wasn’t a kiddie table for the LIV guys,” Tirico joked.
“Does anybody dislike Dustin Johnson?” Tirico asked. “Does anybody dislike Cameron Smith? Most of the guys who are playing on the LIV Tour, when they come back, it’s like, ‘What did he ever do to you?’”
“Now Patrick Reed…I’m gonna get sued here if I say anything about Patrick,” Tirico said with a laugh. “He has caused the ire of several for a variety of reasons…other than that, there’s no villain. There’s a villain in general with Norman and Mickelson and the idea of LIV, but competition has been great for America.”
LIV CEO Greg Norman has been absent from Augusta and did not take part in the Champions Dinner, considering he is not a former Masters winner. Mickelson, a three-time Masters winner did attend the Champions Dinner, but reportedly did not speak. Mickelson also did not speak at the Masters press conferences earlier in the week, a setting he previously dominated throughout his career, declining an invite to take part this year.
“Competition has been great for America,” Tirico added. “That makes everybody better and I think the existence of LIV has made the PGA Tour better.”