Michelle Wie West has expressed reservations about LIV Golf starting a women’s circuit.
The 33-year-old stepped away from the game last year, but is the host of this week’s Mizuho Americas Open on the LPGA Tour. During a media day, she explained she believes the origins of the LPGA Tour mean the involvement of the Saudi-funded organization is not clear cut.
She explained: “I always think competition is great. I think unfortunately the situation – the source of where the money is coming from, it’s a completely different ball game in terms of men and women.
“I think that inherently us being a tour of females, comes with its extra set of complications when dealing with a tour that is funded by a certain corporation or country. It’s a very complicated answer but we are a tour founded by women, led by women, and I would love for us to keep growing.”
Before last month’s LIV Golf Adelaide tournament, CEO Greg Norman revealed he spoke with LPGA and LET players eager to get involved in a new women’s series. However, Wie West said there are other factors to consider. She explained: “I would engage in a conversation if it would achieve our aim of promoting women’s golf, but there needs to be input from players and sponsors. There’s a lot of factors to consider before we do business with LIV.”
Despite her reservations, Wie West stressed that she wouldn’t blame anyone for accepting greater financial security and opportunities a new circuit could bring. She said: “If the money is there, if it creates great opportunities for the women on our tour, who am I to stop anyone from gaining financial stability in the way that we all deserve?”
“But it is a complicated scenario as we all know. There is no one right or wrong or good versus evil. It’s very complicated and it gets even more so complicated when it’s about women.”
Wie West also pointed out that, compared to other sports, women’s golf is nowhere near as lucrative. “We watch the NBA, the NFL, the PGA Tour, and how luxurious their lives are, riding in private planes and staying in five-star hotels every week — and that’s not the life of an LPGA Tour player,” she said.
“We’re lugging our golf bag, trying to find really good deals on hotels, because, what people don’t realize with golfers is that we pay for everything. We pay for our caddies, ours [physical therapy]our hotel – you don’t make the cut, you’re down however much that is.”
After this week’s tournament, Wie West will turn her attention to July’s US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach, where she will play. Last week, she admitted that the Major she won in 2014 will be “most likely a farewell.”