LIV Golf rebel Thomas Pieters has claimed that ‘lonely’ life on the PGA Tour combined with financial incentives led to him defecting to the Saudi-funded circuit.
The Belgian was the Saudi-backed series’ big name signing ahead of its second season in a huge blow to Team Europe’s Ryder Cup hopes.
The 31-year-old joined Bubba Watson’s team, the RangeGoats, and has played the opening two events of the season in Mexico and Tucson, Oklahoma.
Despite all the controversy surrounding his and his fellow LIV Golf rebels’ defections, Pieters has claimed it is not a big deal.
‘Obviously there’s a lot of talk, but at the end of the day, it’s a personal opinion, and it’s just golf, it’s not life and death,’ said Pieters, on Barstool’s Fore Play podcast.
LIV Golf rebel Thomas Pieters has branded the PGA Tour as ‘lonely’ after his defection
He noted he called DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley to inform him of his choice, before adding: ‘I made the decision, and I move on.’
While some LIV defectors have tried to scrape together different reasons other than money for jumping ship, Pieters was at least honest about the rebel series’ financial motivation.
However, he also claimed that he found the PGA Tour too lonely, claiming it was ‘sad’ that players didn’t have a life after events.
‘As a kid you obviously dream about playing on the PGA Tour, winning golf tournaments. I played a year on the PGA Tour. I did not like it,’ he said. ‘I got very homesick, very lonely, so for me that was kind of like tick the box, I tried it over there, wasn’t my thing and then LIV came around right at the right time.
‘Everybody who was playing on it last year that I talked to said it was very exciting, new and that was something that really spoke to me. You can’t lie about it financially, it’s amazing, and it was something as a family, father of two daughters, as well with my girlfriend, it’s awesome to have such good schedule, as well.
‘Last week (RangeGoat teammates Harold Varner III and Talor Gooch), we went out to dinner a couple nights, for me that’s normal,’ he said. ‘It’s funny because Harold said, “man we never did this on the PGA Tour,” and I find that a little bit sad.’
LIV rebels have faced a lot of questions and scrutiny over joining the series, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s PIF, and sportswashing.
But Pieters claimed he was only concerned with playing golf and appeared to hit back at those critical of the upstart.
The Belgian was the Saudi-backed series’ big name signing ahead of its second season
Yasir Al-Rumayyan (R) is the current governor of the PIF and Greg Norman (L) is LIV Golf’s CEO
‘I know my money comes from an American-based company,’ said Pieters, referencing LIV Golf Investments, where PIF is the majority shareholder. Yasir Al-Rumayyan is the current governor of the PIF, and serves directly under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has controlled the fund since 2015.
‘I think the PIF is in about 150 boards if I’m not wrong, so anything you touch on a daily basis is funded by Saudi money, so I think it’s a bit hypocritical, some of the things that are being said,’ Pieters continued.
‘Obviously the things that have happened, they’re horrible. I’m here to play golf. It’s not really something I want to go into. I knew that question was going to be asked, but I don’t really have an answer for that.’
Liv’s next event will be held in Orlando from March 31 – April 2, the weeks before golf’s first major of the year, The Masters.