NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — Whether you believe the first shot was fired when Phil Mickelson said the PGA Tour uses "manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics" and its commissioner, Jay Monahan, won’t do what’s right "unless you have leverage..."
Or it was when Monahan revoked playing privileges for those who jumped to LIV Golf and labeled Greg Norman's venture "an irrational threat" and one "not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game," this has gotten juicy...
And not above some good ol' fashioned pettiness.
As the LIV Golf Series' inaugural event in the United States starts Thursday at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside of Portland, Oregon, the traditional league vs. the wild child continue to trade insults and strategically-timed announcements.
Monahan upstaged the start of the first LIV event in London by announcing those playing in the Saudi-backed series were suspended from the PGA Tour. That ruling came as the entire field was teeing off in LIV's shotgun-start format.
LIV countered by welcoming Brooks Koepka to its team minutes into Monahan's news conference at the Travelers Championship a week ago to announce the PGA Tour was raising the purse at several tournaments.
On Tuesday, as LIV was introducing three of its newer members, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Matthew Wolff, at Pumpkin Ridge, Monahan was revealing the PGA Tour and DP World Tour are expanding and strengthening their alliance.
This is turning into Duke vs. North Carolina. Red Sox vs. Yankees. All at odds with each other.
And make no mistake, LIV Golf certainly has gotten the attention of the PGA Tour.
Bryson DeChambeau on Saudis and LIV Golf: 'People will see the good they're doing'
Sign up for our sports newsletter: All the sports news you need to know delivered right to you!
So what did some of those players who decided to walk away from the PGA Tour do? They started firing back.
LIV Tour players strike back at PGA Tour
Like Pat Perez, the 46-year-old who is unapologetic for seeking more money while working less after 20 years and 515 starts on the PGA Tour.
Perez took a look at the field of this week's PGA Tour event, the John Deere Classic, and it was like chum in the water.
"The Tour has tried to strong-arm us all year and come with bans and suspensions and all that," he said. "And how'd that work? Look how many guys are here. That didn't work at all. So the top threats and all that kind of stuff, and how many major winners do you have here compared to John Deere? It's not even close.
"The Tour wants to keep talking about strength of field ... the strength of field is here. So whether everybody wants to talk about it or not, that's what it is. Facts are facts."
For this week, anyway, Perez is right. And it's not close. The John Deere lost its only top 50 player, No. 25 Daniel Berger, who withdrew Monday because of back issues that have plagued him most of this year. The event has just six of the top 100, led by No. 58 Webb Simpson.
But, Perez needs to pump the brakes. The LIV event features eight players in the top 50, including No. 17 Dustin Johnson and No. 19 Koepka. Certainly not stellar to this point. But, to Perez's point, it does put the John Deere field to shame.
Some players no longer are hiding their disgust for the PGA Tour and how it has handled LIV's threat. Some have reacted by resigning from the tour; Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel among them.
Several were asked what the Tour could have done, if anything, to stop players from defecting.
"Listen to the players for once," Reed said.
"Could have at least taken the call from the LIV Group," Perez said. "At least take a meeting, see what it's all about. Monahan just shut it out from the start. Didn't want to take a meeting, didn't want to listen to anybody. Maybe (it) would have been a little different. ... He doesn't listen to the players."
Wednesday's word of day for Garcia, Westwood and Martin Kaymer: Communication.
"Transparency is a big thing," Kaymer said. "It would have been great to evaluate all the options that all the tours have and that we can all decide together, that we can sit down at the table as adults, find a solution that is not only good for individuals, for the whole tour, for all the members."
Still, nobody knows what LIV Golf will look like in three years. Is this the AFL, which forced a merger with the NFL? Or is this the original USFL, which died after three seasons? (In a related item, the next U.S. stop for LIV Golf is at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.)
Some of those taking shots at the PGA Tour now, have not closed the door on returning to the tour if allowed.
"I want to play the PGA Tour," DeChambeau said. "It's not my decision for me if I can or can't play, but I would love to continue to play. We'll see how it plays out."
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: LIV Golf players share some of the issues they have with PGA Tour