The Open: Pietersen likens controversial LIV Golf to IPL and foresees 'one happy family in the future'

By Sports Desk July 11, 2022

England cricketing great Kevin Pietersen has likened the controversial LIV Golf International Series to the formation of the Indian Premier League and hopes golf can soon settle its differences.

Pietersen was no stranger to controversy as a talented multi-format player, with his commitment to England questioned after the inaugural IPL, when lucrative T20 franchise cricket was born.

The South Africa-born batter captained England for just three Tests and 12 ODIs before his resignation and ultimately announced his international retirement in 2012 after scheduling disagreements – only to soon return.

Pietersen reportedly took issue with the strain put on players by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), with their involvement in franchise cricket around the world limited.

The 42-year-old, who suggested English players were jealous of those offered lucrative IPL contracts, spent the latter stages of his career in various domestic leagues, appearing in tournaments across India, Australia, Pakistan and the Caribbean.

Having been bought for a whopping £1.1million by Royal Challengers Bangalore for the second edition of the then-controversial IPL in 2009, Pietersen remains aware of the potential for differences of opinion when it comes to new beginnings in sport.

LIV Golf has come under intense scrutiny, with vocal opponents criticising the Saudi-backed breakaway league, which offers lucrative prize funds that the PGA Tour is yet to compete with.

Ten major champions have defected to LIV Golf, leaving a cloud hanging over the final major of the year, The Open Championship, where the R&A has allowed breakaway players to feature despite their PGA Tour bans.

Pietersen, speaking after playing the Old Course, St Andrews ahead of The 150th Open on Monday, hopes the issues between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour will soon be resolved.

"I don't really have a take on it because it doesn't matter what I think," he said. 

"But having been part of the Indian Premier League and franchise cricket around the world, I think eventually – and I hope – that everything just merges and everybody lives as one happy family in the future.

"Sport is such a unifying thing. It unifies people, it unifies countries, unifies teams, and the ability to make it into something great is important.

"So, I just hope that for the greater good of the sport, things happen in the next few years. Clearly, there was going to be an outcry at the start by certain people in certain countries. 

"But let's hope that in two, three years' time, golf is celebrated for the great game that it is."

Pietersen has been offered the chance to play at St Andrews before the major starts and believes the short distance of the course may offer the injury-hampered Tiger Woods a chance of success.

"These guys are just so special. I mean, they are quite something when they perform to the calibre of performances that we see these kinds of freak shows," he added.

"[Xander] Schauffele comes in with great form, having won three times in the last three weeks or so. Louis [Oosthuizen] as well, he won, and then he got a runner-up.

"I think you come in here with experience and – you can relate it back to cricket – there are certain grounds in the world that you go to [where] you think, 'Okay, I have a real good chance here because I know this place. I love this place and I know how to bat here.'

"So I think, in terms of golf, there will be a few players that say, 'Yep, I know this place. I like this place'. 

"Maybe even Tiger, this is not a hard walk; we walked it yesterday, this is a very easy walk. For him to be able to turn up here, show that dedication and commitment months ago towards this tournament... you never know.

"We played next to him yesterday, and he played in front of us. There's a crazy sound that comes off the back when he hits, it's very special."

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