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3M Open brings excitement to Blaine, as LIV Golf controversy looms over PGA Tour

A bitter controversy has erupted over LIV Golf, the Saudi Arabian-financed circuit that has poached major talent from the PGA Tour in recent weeks.

Shortly after finishing the second round of the 3M Open on Friday afternoon, Rickie Fowler stopped outside the media tent to snap photos with adoring fans and sign autographs.

Fowler is one of the many recognizable names competing in the 3M Open, drawing golf enthusiasts from across the Twin Cities to Blaine this weekend as the tournament heads into the final two rounds.

Jason DaCosta, who came to the 3M Open with his family after receiving tickets for Father's Day, said he's familiar with some of the big golfers in this week's field. 

But not all of them.

"There are a few," DaCosta said, "that are conspicuously absent." 

Certainly, the 3M Open field may be thinner because the prestigious British Open just wrapped up last weekend. 

However, there's also the matter of the LIV Golf controversy, which has poached major talent from the PGA in recent weeks. Matthew Wolff, winner of the 2019 3M Open, is among the golfers to defect to LIV Golf, which is financed by Saudi Arabia and has thrown millions upon millions of dollars at some of the sport's biggest stars. Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and many others have joined the circuit, setting up a bitter showdown between the PGA and LIV. 

"I really don't think it'll be around in two years," 3M Open Director Hollis Cavner said at a media event last month. "It's an exhibition tour. It's absolutely just an exhibition tour and that's the way I feel about it."

Martin Slumbers, chief of the R&A at the British Open, said he believes LIV Golf "undermines the merit-based culture and spirit of open competition that makes golf so special."

Back at the 3M Open, many fans interviewed by KARE 11 either knew little about the controversy or did not care to make a comment about it. 

"The 'live' golf thing, you're saying?" one fan said, not aware of the term LIV. "Well, I don't live golf per se. I play. I enjoy watching." 

"We haven't paid much attention to it," Seth Thorson said. "I'm sure there are some absences with the [British] Open the week before that created some people not coming."

Jason DaCosta, who was fairly well-versed on the issue, said he expects the controversy will likely last for at least a few years.

"I can't say for sure," DaCosta said, "but it seems like it's a blip that might stay for a little while."

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