Article originally posted on Sports Illustrated.
Just four months after the PGA Tour played at the Mexican resort, LIV Golf is at the El Camaleon course for its season opener.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — The LIV Golf League opens its 2023 season on Friday at the El Camaleon course at the Mayakoba Resort—which means the PGA Tour, after 16 years, will not be returning to the venue this fall.
For now, Russell Henley will be the answer to a trivia question: who won the last PGA Tour event at Mayakoba known as the World Wide Technology Championship?
Given the litigation between the two entities and the Tour’s opposition to doing business with those who do business with LIV Golf, the move makes sense—even though World Wide Technology had a multi-year agreement to be the title sponsor of the PGA Tour event here.
And while there are some serious hurdles involved for a PGA Tour return, the chief executive officer of the company that owns the Mayakoba Resort would has not given up on the idea. He would very much like to host both entities and believes he can be a bridge to peace.
«We would love to have an event with the PGA Tour as well,» said Borja Escalada, the CEO of RLH Properties. «We’d love to be partners in building the outreach among this tour’s platform. The sooner that we learn how to coexist … because in the end, I would say it’s happening in most sports. There are many different leagues, any different organizations.
«We are trying to develop golf as best we can, and it would be an honor to host both events.»
Escalada said Mayakoba has a long-time relationship with Greg Norman, the CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf who designed the El Camaleon course. Because of their mutual interests, the idea of playing a LIV Golf event here began to pick up more momentum last year as LIV launched.
The league has been highly controversial and had led to disruption in the game as several prominent players on the PGA Tour made their way to LIV Golf. Escalada understands the angst but says he’d like to be part of a way that allows the two entities to coexist.
«I think we have tried to be outside of the controversy,» he said. «We understand the reason for the controversy but the different positions of the PGA Tour and LIV is something we have been able to manage. We are thankful for the many years we hosted a PGA Tour tournament in Mayakoba. This did not used to be a golf region so we started 17 years ago and wanted to support the sport and the game because we share many values with it.»
But Escalada said he and his company were intrigued with LIV Golf, especially the team format, as something new and different. «We like the ‘Golf, but Louder’ theme,» he said.
And seeing the PGA Tour abandon its wraparound schedule after last year and determining that the fall events would become more like a qualifying system for the following season also caused Escalada to pause.
«They believe those are the best decisions for the PGA Tour and their business,» he said. «And some of them, obviously, were not the best ones for our tournament, but it’s something we obviously respect that. But we were very transparent with them, what are thoughts were and what we thought was best for Mayakoba, and where we can make our biggest contribution to the game.
Escalada said he met with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and the relations have been amicable.
“The PGA Tour’s facility agreement with the owner of the Mayakoba property ended with the 2022 event,» the Tour said in a statement. «The PGA Tour and World Wide Technology are working together to identify new host site options and will determine a new direction in the near future.»
The Tour has yet to announce its fall schedule following the Tour Championship and how the events will be structured to allow players who did not make the FedEx Cup playoffs to enhance their positions. In preliminary schedules that have been put forth, Mayakoba was not part of it. Escalada said it won’t happen in 2023 but he is hopeful in the future the two sides can work together again.
«We want to continue to bring to Mexico the best quality of events,» Escalada said. «Because that’s the opportunity to improve the golf world that there is. And we are open to hosting any event in the world that is open to this idea.»