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Harold Varner III is one of the latest golfers to transition from the PGA Tour to the LIV Golf Invitational Series, and while he expected backlash from fans over his decision, it still hurt.
“Who likes to hate? It’s horrible,” Varner said Wednesday before the LIV Golf Championships in Boston, via The Washington Post. “I hate to be hated. I’d rather not be known than hated.”
Varner said he was thinking of his son when he made the decision to sign his lucrative contract with the Saudi-funded tour, saying his son would be “a life I could only dream of.”
“For a kid who grew up where I grew up, this was just a chance for me to make sure my kid would never be in that situation, and that means the world to me,” Varner said.
Golfers who moved to LIV Golf, which includes Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson and newcomers this week, Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann, have heard their fair share of fans.
While some just ignore it and don’t care about it, Varner is the exact opposite.
“I read them all on purpose,” Varner said. “Everyone says, ‘Don’t go into social media.’ That’s stupid. I’m not ashamed to be Harold. I’m ashamed that we don’t spread love.”
No love will spread next week in London in BMW PGA Championship Where PGA Tour and DP World Tour players will see their former teammates who are now with LIV Golf for the first time.
Keith Bailey, CEO of DP World Tours, acknowledged that there was “strong opposition” against golfers living in the tournament and said that no golfers from that tour would be featured in television sets.
“They will not be given any competitive disadvantage on the course – unfavorable playing times – but they will not be required to play in Pro-am on Wednesdays and they will not be in the featured TV sets,” across the golf course.
LIV Golfers were also asked not to wear any branded clothing while playing.
“Out of respect for our broadcasters and fellow competitors, we kindly ask you not to wear LIV-Golf’s clothing,” said a separate note via the Telegraph.
Other concerns for LIV golfers stem from golf’s official world ranking system, which may exclude those on that round from future majors.
Varner played in four of them this year for the first time, making the cut at three. And while he loves being able to perform in that high-pressure phase, he has other things on his mind.
“I think it’s best to make sure my child doesn’t have to worry about anything,” he said.
“I think it’s very easy to get into a situation where you do what other people say you should do. I don’t know, I just sat there—I think it’s too bad when my wife is like, ‘F—everyone. Do what you want to do.’ And I said, “That’s pretty cool.”
“It’s going to be hard for me to take” next week in London, said Rory McIlroy, who has not held back on his thoughts on why he should not join the LIV Golf team.
“If you believe in something, I think you should speak up, and I really believe in it,” he said on Sunday. “I really believe in it.” “I hate what you do in golf. I hate it. I really do it. As if it’s going to be hard for me to go to Wentworth in two weeks and see 18 of them there. It doesn’t sit right with me.”