Oklahoma State star and world No. 2 amateur Eugenio Chacarra signs with LIV Golf

LIV Golf quietly scored one of its biggest wins when it signed world No. 2 amateur Eugenio Chacarra. The former Oklahoma State Spanish player has joined the LIV golf league and will likely make his debut at the Portland event next weekend, just a month after losing in the playoffs for the NCAA individual title against Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent.

“My position is that of a player who is not a member of the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour, and I did not earn any money while I was an amateur, so I can play in this league without problem. “, Chacarra told the Spanish newspaper, Marca. “This contract reassures me and secures the future of my family. I had already accomplished everything as an amateur, and now I will be able to gain experience as a professional.”

Chacarra – who was a senior with one season remaining due to the COVID-19 pandemic – has won three times so far in 2022 and trails only Keita Nakajima in the world amateur golf rankings. Chacarra was expected to return for this final super season before deciding to sign with LIV, according to Golf Channel.

It also represents a dichotomy of decision-making among college stars. Chacarra chose LIV, but when presented with a similar choice, Texas superstar Pierceson Coody turned down the money, determined instead to grind him on the Korn Ferry Tour as a route to the PGA Tour.

“I could be sitting on my couch with millions in my bank account watching my friends play on the PGA Tour, and that would have been devastating,” Coody told Golf.com.

Chacarra is a bit of a stunt for LIV Golf, which is clearly trying to harvest as much talent as possible in its first year of existence. Although most golf fans won’t know his name, it represents a bigger blow to the PGA Tour than, say, Branden Grace or Kevin Na signing with LIV Golf. Why? LIV is banking on signing enough versions of Chacarra to hit one Will Zalatoris. That is, if he signs 10 elite amateurs, maybe one of them turns out to thrive in the majors and is clearly one of the top 10 players in the world.

The problem for LIV, however, is that there is currently no clear path for these players to become stars or superstars. Their currents are completely devoid of any context – we have no idea what even winning a LIV event in Portland means – and without Official World Golf Ranking points, LIV golfers will have a tougher (but not impossible) course. to qualify for major tournaments. championships.

This highlights the PGA Tour’s greatest shortcoming — or its greatest quality, depending on how you look at it. Due to his 503(c)6 status, he is unable to create a structure in which guaranteed contracts are distributed. Even if it were possible, it might not matter because LIV Golf has so much more money to play with. But for some 22-year-old players, having guaranteed money instead of fighting their way through small-circuit meritocracy to reach the PGA Tour will be an easy decision.

The other interesting part is what Chacarra alluded to in his quote above. There will likely be an easier (legal) path for golfers who have never been on the PGA Tour or DP World Tour to play there later, even if they decide to play LIV Golf now. Even banning players who try to remain members of the PGA Tour might not hold up in court, and it’s even harder to see one that weighs against a player who has never been a member at all.

Edward K. Thompson