Everything you need to know about the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series, which is backed by Saudi Arabian money, fronted by former World No.1 Greg Norman, and headlined by Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, and Phil Mickelson.
JUMP TO: Players | Teams | Schedule | Prize money | The controversy | Legal battle | World Rankings | Majors eligibility | Ryder Cup eligibility | Presidents Cup eligibility | How to watch | What’s next | PGA Tour golf league
LIV rebels lose legal battle with DP World Tour, plunging the Ryder Cup into chaos
The DP World Tour has won its legal battle against LIV players and will now be able to impose fines and sanctions on those who play in conflicting events without permission.
Several players had requested ‘conflicting event’ releases from the DP World Tour in order to play the first LIV Golf Invitational, near London, last June. The waiver was denied and those that competed at Centurion Club were fined £100,000. Some were initially suspended from competing in the Genesis Scottish Open, as well as the co-sanctioned Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship.
Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding were the first to contest the decision and had their punishments stayed pending an appeal, a ruling which allowed all LIV golfers eligible on the DP World Tour to play without penalty.
The number of appellants had grown to 16, but Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace withdrew from the case.
A three-strong panel heard five days of arguments from lawyers representing LIV players and the DP World Tour in February, with Sporting Resolutions confirming on the morning of the Masters that they have now upheld the DP World Tour’s conflicting tournament release regulation and dismissed the appeals.
In summary, the arbitration body found that:
1. Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour’s Chief Executive, “acted entirely reasonably in refusing releases”.
2. The relevant regulations are lawful and enforceable. The regulations “cannot be said to go beyond what is necessary and proportionate to the [DP World Tour’s] continued operation as a professional golf tour” and the DP World Tour has a legitimate and justifiable interest in protecting the rights of its membership.
3. The sanctioned members “committed serious breaches of the Code of Behaviour of the DP World Tour Regulations by playing in [LIV Golf events] despite their release requests having been refused”.
4. All of the players’ challenges therefore failed, their appeals are dismissed in their entirety, and the £100,000 fines originally imposed must now be paid within 30 days.
“We welcome today’s decision by Sport Resolutions which upholds our regulations and our ability to administer them,” said DP World Tour chief Keith Pelley.
“We are delighted that the panel recognised we have a responsibility to our full membership to do this and also determined that the process we followed was fair and proportionate.
“In deciding the level of these sanctions last June, we were simply administering the regulations which were created by our members and which each of them signed up to.
“It is, of course, regrettable that resources, both financial and staffing, which could have been otherwise deployed across our organisation, have been impacted by this lengthy arbitration process.
“We will now carefully consider the details of today’s decision with our Board, our Tournament Committee and our legal advisors and take the appropriate action in due course.”
The ruling means the rebels are likely to be banned indefinitely from competing on the DP World Tour, potentially strengthening the fields on the Asian Tour instead.
The decision could also have major repercussions for the Ryder Cup and European captain Luke Donald, who looks set to be without the services of Sergio, Westwood, Poulter, Paul Casey and Thomas Pieters for September’s event in Italy.
US captain Zach Johnson has already hinted that the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau will not be considered for selection.
The PGA Tour is involved in a separate anti-trust lawsuit with LIV Golf after a handful of players were suspended for joining the Saudi-breakaway league. The trial date is scheduled for January 8, 2024.
Norman: “I won’t quit”
In a world-exclusive interview with Today’s Golfer, LIV CEO Greg Norman has hit back at Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods’ calls for him to quit his role. Norman says he will remain at the helm for a long time and believes he is the man to help reach a resolution between LIV and the PGA Tour.
LIV Golf players “deserve” OWGR points
The debate surrounding LIV Golf players’ eligibility for world ranking points and, subsequently, their qualification for majors and the Ryder Cup, continues to rumble on. Unsurprisingly, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman insists that LIV players “deserve” OWGR points. More interesting, perhaps, is the fact that Jon Rahm agrees with him.
Rory McIlroy made it his mission to be a pain in Greg Norman’s arse
“So this goes back to some comments I made in 2020 when I was asked about the PGL [another breakaway tour] and the conflict that was brewing,” McIlroy revealed. “I said, ‘I want to be on the right side of history with this one, the way Arnold [Palmer] was in the ‘90s with the whole Greg Norman thing.’
“I didn’t say anything derogatory about Greg at all, just ‘this happened in ’94 and Arnold Palmer stood up for the rest of the membership’. Anyway, he wasn’t happy, and we had a pretty testy back-and-forth and he was very condescending – ‘Maybe one day you’ll understand’ – and all this s***e.
“Fast-forward to this year and a week after Augusta there’s a documentary about him on ESPN, Shark, about his loss in ’96″, the Northern Irishman continued. “So I watched it and was really moved and thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to send him a message.’
“So I did: ‘Greg, I just watched your documentary on ESPN. I thought it was fantastic. It must have been very tough to do that. Hopefully it reminds everyone of what a great golfer you were.’ There was another thing. When I lost or had my meltdown at Augusta in 2011, Greg had sent a lovely message and been really helpful to me.
“So I said to him, ‘Watching it reminded me of how you reached out to me in 2011, and I just want to say that I’ll always appreciate it. It meant a lot. I know our opinion on the game of golf right now is very different, but I just wanted you to know that and wish you all the best.’
“He came back to me straight away: ‘I really think golf can be a force for good around the world. Great to see you playing so well. I know our opinions are not aligned but I’m just trying to create more opportunities for every golfer around the world.’ Fine. Really nice.
“Then, a couple of weeks later, he does an interview with The Washington Post and says I’ve been “brainwashed by the PGA Tour”. I’m like, ‘For f**k’s sake!’ We’ve had this really nice back and forth and he says that about me. I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to make it my business now to be as much of a pain in his arse as possible.’”
LIV captures three rival Tour venues
LIV’s 2023 schedule is taking shape with three more venues added.
Valderrama (above), the host of the 1997 Ryder Cup, is among the new venues that will hold LIV Golf Series events in 2023.
Mayakoba’s El Camaleon in Mexico – a long-time PGA Tour venue – and regular European Tour host Sentosa in Singapore are the other new courses.
“These venues have played host to signature moments in golf,” LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman said.
“We’re excited to build new traditions for the sport while delivering a first-class fan experience at some of the world’s best courses.”
McIlroy: “Norman needs to go”
World No.1 Rory McIlroy has urged LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman to quit his role in a bid to end the “stalemate” in the men’s game.
Speaking ahead of the DP World Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship, the Northern Irishman said Norman “needs to go” if there’s any hope of the future of the men’s game being resolved.
“He needs to exit stage left,” said the 33-year-old. “He’s made his mark but I think now is the right time to say you’ve got this thing off the ground but no one’s going to talk unless there’s an adult in the room that can actually try to mend fences.”
McIlroy believes Norman’s presence, coupled with LIV’s separate legal cases against the PGA and DP World Tours, makes it impossible for the opposing sides to thrash out a solution at the moment.
“There are obviously two lawsuits going on at the minute,” McIlroy said. “There’s the PGA Tour versus LIV and there’s obviously this one that’s coming up with the DP World Tour in February.
“Nothing can happen if those two things are going on. Right now it is a bit of a stalemate.”
The four-time Major champion’s comments come just days after it was claimed that LIV were planning to replace Norman with former TaylorMade CEO Mark King in a report that the Saudi-backed series’ managing director Majed Al Sorour has since denied.
LIV event confirmed for Australia
LIV will take an event to Australia for the first time in 2023.
The Grange Golf Club in Adelaide will host one of 14 events from April 21-23, a fortnight after the Masters takes place at Augusta National.
“Passion for sport is at the core of Australian culture, and LIV Golf is proud to bring its global league to a country deserving of the world’s top competition,” said Greg Norman.
“This is an opportunity to grow the game with generations of Australians while connecting them with star players like Cameron Smith who are building a new platform for golf around the globe.
“There is massive potential for Australia to play a bigger role in this great sport, and I couldn’t be more excited to showcase Adelaide for our league’s debut year.”
LIV are also expected to announce a further event in Australia and take a tournament to Valderrama in Spain, which has been removed from the DP World Tour’s 2023 schedule.
Who will be the next golfers to join LIV Golf?
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman is looking to finalise the tour’s player roster for a revamped 2023 season. “The percentage of players that will come back is probably – doing quick math – 85 to 90% of the players, I would say,” he said.
It doesn’t take a maths genius to realise that leaves room for a few new faces…
“We’re looking for seven players, something like that,” said Norman, before confirming the targets are players in the top-10 or at least top-20 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
Two big-name players highly tipped for a LIV Golf switch are Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.
Cantlay had previously said a lucrative offer would be “very tempting” and didn’t do much to assuage the rumours, merely saying he had no plans to join LIV “at the moment”.
Other players being heavily linked include Cameron Young, Adam Scott, Mito Pereira and Thomas Pieters.
Everything you need to know about LIV Golf
The LIV Golf Invitational Series – or the LIV Golf League as it will become in 2023 – has been the hottest topic in golf this year.
Action finally got underway in June at the Centurion Club, near London, the first of eight Liv Golf events in 2022. There will be 14 tournaments in 2023.
But what is the LIV Golf Series, why is it so controversial, how will the DP World Tour and PGA Tour counter its threat, and what does it mean for the future of the game? Let’s find out.
What is the LIV Golf Series?
Formerly known as the Super Golf League, the LIV Golf Invitational is a Saudi-backed venture consisting of eight invitational tournaments with no cuts, shotgun starts and a $255 million purse. It is being fronted by Greg Norman, the two-time Open champion and former World No.1.
What does LIV mean?
It is the Roman numeral for 54, which is the number of holes to be played in each event. It also refers to the lowest score you could shoot were you to birdie every hole on a par-72 course.
How is the LIV Golf Series funded?
The league is backed by LIV Golf Investments, whose CEO is Greg Norman. The company’s shareholder is The Public Investment Fund (PIF), a sovereign wealth fund that owns Newcastle Football Club.
Why is LIV Golf so controversial?
Because of the PIF’s links to the Saudi Government, LIV Golf have faced accusations of sportswashing. PIF’s chair is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of Saudi Arabia’s king. Bin Salman runs his dad’s government and has been accused of ordering the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was critical of the Saudi government.
Norman came in for huge criticism when he said “we’ve all made mistakes” as he rebuffed intense questions over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
Norman was then asked about 81 Saudi Arabian citizens being executed in a single day in March. “I got a lot of messages, but quite honestly I look forward, I don’t look back,” he said. “I don’t look into the politics of things. I know the mission I have as CEO of LIV Golf and that’s how we can grow the game globally. I’m not going to get into the quagmire of whatever happens in someone else’s world. I heard about it and I just kept moving on.”
“This whole thing about Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi and human rights, talk about it, but also talk about the good the country is doing to change its culture. There are not many countries that can stand up and be proud of that. They can’t be proud of their past – there are a lot of countries in this world that have a cross to bear too – but they are looking after the younger generation.”
Norman had previously said “I do not answer to Saudi Arabia. I do not answer to MBS [Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman],” in an interview with Sky Sports, where he said Saudi Arabia is “changing their culture within their country.”
LIV Golf has been accused of sportswashing. What is that?
Sportswashing is the practice of an individual, group, corporation, or government using sport to improve their tarnished reputation, through hosting a sporting event, the purchase or sponsorship of sporting teams, or by participation in the sport itself.
At the international level, sportswashing has been used to direct attention away from a poor human rights record and corruption scandals within a government. At individual or corporate level sportswashing is used to cover up and direct attention away from said person’s or company’s vices, crimes, or scandals.
How is LIV Golf linked to the Asian Tour?
The series is being sanctioned by the Asian Tour, which will benefit from a $300 million cash injection – courtesy of LIV Golf – over the next 10 years.
How many players will be in each LIV tournament?
48 players. Those 48 players also make up 12 teams.
What is the format of the LIV Golf Series events?
This is where the Series proves even more attractive for players. Tournaments are played across three rounds (54 holes) with no cut, meaning every player is guaranteed a big pay day ($120k for finishing last!). It’s a standard strokeplay tournament but, unlike events on the DP World and PGA Tours, each round has a shotgun start, meaning everyone plays the course in the same conditions and at the same time – no more early or late tee times.
The Team Championship finale takes a slightly different format as it combines match play and strokeplay across three days. Find out all the details, here.
Who has joined the Liv Golf tour?
Former World No.1 and two-time Major champion Dustin Johnson, six-time Major champion Phil Mickelson, four-time Major champion Brooks Koepka, 2020 US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau, Masters champions Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel, former Open champions Henrik Stenson and Louis Oosthuizen, three-time PGA Tour winner Jason Kokrak and Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer are the big names headlining the rebel tour.
In perhaps the biggest blow to the PGA Tour yet, 2022 Open Champion Cameron Smith announced in late-August that he would be joining LIV Golf.
“[Money] was definitely a factor in making that decision,” he said. “I won’t ignore that or say that wasn’t a reason. It was a business decision, an offer I couldn’t ignore.”
Smith’s move came at the same time as five other players, with Marc Leishman, Joaquin Niemann, Harold Varner III, Cameron Tringale, and Anirban Lahiri also making the switch.
Which players probably won’t be joining the Liv Golf tour?
There have already been enough shocks in the first season of LIV to lean heavily on the maxim ‘never say never’, but Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Tiger Woods, and a host of other big names have committed to the DP World and PGA Tours, and all attended a players’ meeting to discuss the way forward and how to encourage players to reject LIV.
Full list of Liv Golf Tour players
Hennie Du Plessis
Charles Howell III
Harold Varner III
What are the LIV Golf teams called?
The 12 team captains will be announced ahead of every event but the team names will remain in place across the series.
4 ACES GC: ‘Ace’ – the slang name for golf’s greatest magic trick: the hole in one.
CLEEKS GC: The cleek: the driving iron of its day, with a refined look and feel that can appeal to fans of golf heritage.
CRUSHERS GC: It’s about speed. It’s about power. It’s a shot that could shatter a ball on impact. This team creates an identity that celebrates its own strength.
FIREBALLS GC: A fun and exciting identity which embodies golf at its wildest – and all for a team that will hope to be ‘on fire’ this week.
HY FLYERS GC: A team in flight. Powered by its winged logo, this group hopes to soar above the competition.
IRON HEADS GC: All about metal and mettle, displaying a steely determination. A strong, bold identity has been forged for this team, tapping into golf’s heraldry.
MAJESTICKS GC: The majestic shot. The one that stops you in your tracks and produces a perfect arc from club strike to preferred landing spot.
NIBLICKS GC: A reference to the rich history of Scotland, the birthplace of golf, merged with a more progressive aesthetic. A classic term for a short-nosed club in a bygone era.
PUNCH GC: Celebrating this timeless stroke: the punch shot. Using vintage clubs still sought after by fans, this brand taps into golf’s iconic past with a hand lettered mark to create a ‘retro golf meets streetwear’ aesthetic.
SMASH GC: That gloriously crisp sound of club on ball. Your shot soaring through the sky on its way down the fairway. Young, fun. The Smash factor.
STINGER GC: Equal parts sharp and sleek, it’s the scorpion’s natural weapon. It’s also a big weapon in golf — for those skilled enough to pull it off.
TORQUE GC: Golf is a high-torque sport, creating a supercharged brand that’s all about forward momentum and speed off the tee.
What is the LIV Golf 2023 schedule?
The LIV Golf 2023 schedule is expected to be released at the end of November.
The 2022 LIV Golf schedule was:
June 9-11: Centurion Golf Club – London, England. Individual winner: Charl Schwartzel. Team winner: Stinger GC.
July 1-3: Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club – Portland, USA. Individual winner: Branden Grace. Team winner: 4 Aces GC.
July 29-31: Trump National Golf Club Bedminster – New Jersey, USA
September 2-4: The International – Boston, USA
September 16-18: Rich Harvest Farms – Chicago, USA
October 7-9: Stonehill Golf Club – Bangkok, Thailand
October 14-16: Royal Greens Golf Club – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
October 27-30: Team Championship, Trump National Doral, Miami, USA
LIV’s schedule was due to increase to 10 events in 2023 followed by a full season of 14 events in 2024 and again in 2025. However, its early success means the series will be the LIV Golf League from next year with 14 events being played across the globe and the same 48 players competing in them all.
What’s the prize money in the LIV Golf Series?
Each regular team event offers a purse of $25m. $20m shared between the field, with $4m for the winner of each event (more than twice the entire British Masters purse and almost double the amount a Major winner receives) and at least $120,000 going to the man who finishes last. A $5m purse will be shared between the top three ‘teams’ (think F1 Constructors’ Championship) at each event.
There’s also $50m reserved for the Team Championship, a figure that dwarfs any PGA Tour purse, with the Players Championship (the most lucrative) paying out $20m. That will be split between the 12 four-man teams, with $16m going to the winning team and at least $1m to the team that finishes last.
RELATED: Majors prize money breakdown
Here’s the full prize money breakdown for each event.
Team competition (split equally between all team members)
What is the PGA Tour’s response to LIV Golf?
Players who compete in LIV Golf events have been suspended by the PGA Tour for playing in the Saudi-backed venture. The indefinite ban means they won’t be able compete in any PGA Tour events, including the Korn Ferry and Champions Tours. The ban will also apply to any players who join LIV Golf for future events.
The PGA Tour has also announced its own new series of big-money events and a host of increased tournament purses as it seeks to counter the threat of LIV taking the game’s biggest stars.
FULL STORY: PGA Tour reveals huge schedule and purse changes
Are LIV players taking legal action against the Tours?
They certainly are.
A date has been set for LIV Golf’s antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, with federal judge Bethany Labson Freeman scheduling the “summary judgement”, where the PGA Tour will attempt to have the case dismissed without the need for a later trial. If required, the trial itself will begin on January 8, 2024.
LIV’s lawyers had wanted the trial to begin in August 2023.
Nine players have brought the action, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau. 11 players were named in the initial documents, however, Carlos Ortiz and Pat Perez, who is yet to be confirmed, have withdrawn.
The PGA Tour drew first blood in the legal battle when Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford all failed in their legal bid to be reinstated into the FedEx Cup playoffs with a US court ruling in favour of the PGA Tour’s decision to suspend LIV players.
The three golfers had claimed they should be able to play where they want to, telling the PGA Tour “I am a free agent and independent contractor”.
But US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said she did not consider Gooch, Jones and Swafford faced irreparable harm because of the big money they were guaranteed by joining LIV, a key issue in the case.
Meanwhile, LIV said it was disappointed that its players “won’t be allowed to play golf,” adding that “no one gains by banning golfers from playing.”
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan welcomed the news in a memo issued to members.
“With today’s news, our players, fans and partners can now focus on what really matters over the next three weeks: the best players in the world competing in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, capping off an incredibly compelling season with the crowning of the FedEx Cup champion at the Tour Championship,” he wrote.
This was the second time that LIV players had attempted to have tournament suspensions oveturned in recent weeks with Ian Poulter, Branden Grace, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding all successfully appealing against bans from the DP World Tour’s Genesis Scottish Open.
LIV’s DP World Tour members have also sent a letter to Chief Executive Keith Pelley, urging him to overturn fines and suspensions and threatening legal action if he doesn’t comply.
LIV players have played in a host of DP World Tour events since, including the flagship BMW PGA Championship. 17 of LIV’s roster were in the field at Wentworth, with 14 making the cut, and both Talor Gooch and Patrick Reed threatening to win the tournament on Sunday afternoon, before Shane Lowry took the title.
Why is Patrick Reed suing Brandel Chamblee?
Patrick Reed is suing Brandel Chamblee and the Golf Channel for defamation, with the 2017 Masters Champion seeking $750m in damages, claiming that the pundit and the cable network conspired with the PGA Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan to defame Reed “since he was 23 years old”.
In his 30-page complaint, which was filed in a Texas court on August 16, Reed claims Chamblee and Golf Channel have been “misreporting information with falsity and/or reckless disregard of the truth, that is with actual and constitutional malice, purposely omitting pertinent key material facts to mislead the public, and actively targeting [Reed] to destroy his reputation, create hate, and a hostile work environment for him”.
“It is well-known on tour that Mr Reed has been abused and endured more than any other golfer from fans or spectators who have been allowed to scream obscenities only to be glorified by NBC’s Golf Channel for doing so,” the lawsuit reads. “[Chamblee] has become Golf Channel’s primary mouthpiece and agent to push this defamatory agenda and inflict severe damage to Mr Reed, LIV, and other golfers signed with LIV.”
It is far from the first time that Reed and Chamblee have clashed, with the Ryder Cup star having sent the commentator a cease-and-desist letter in January 2020 demanding he not repeat accusations that Reed cheated during a tournament. Reed was penalised two strokes at the Hero World Challenge in 2019 for improving his lie in a bunker, but he claimed he didn’t intend to do so.
That hasn’t prevented Chamblee from taking Reed to task in the years since, and he was particularly critical of the nine-time Tour winner’s decision to defect from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, saying Reed “would have no problem playing golf for Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and Vladimir Putin”.
The suit says: “This statement is false because Mr Reed never aligned himself with a ‘tyrannical, murderous leader. He is playing golf for LIV, which simply happens to be financed by the PIF, which has invested in and financed some of the nation’s and the world’s largest and respected corporations.
“This would be akin to stating that LeBron James has aligned himself with a ‘tyrannical, murderous leader’ because he plays in the National Basketball Association, which has intricate ties to the People’s Republic of China, whose government is accused of a current and ongoing genocide against the Muslim Uyghur people.”
Reed maintains that Chamblee’s opinions have led to fans heckling him and calling him a cheater at tournaments.
Reed also took umbrage at suggestions he and other LIV Golf players shouldn’t have participated in September’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Ahead of the tournament, Rory McIlroy had said: “They shouldn’t be here, but again that’s just my opinion.”
Reed, who finished, tied-fifth, told The Times: “I feel like [Rory] making those types of comments is insulting. Let’s be honest, I’ve [played the DP World Tour] more consistently than some of the Europeans on the PGA Tour, so for them to take shots at other guys, especially Billy [Horschel] and Rory taking shots at the LIV guys saying they shouldn’t be here… I’ve done more for this Tour than Billy has and I’ve played almost as much as Rory has for the past five years.”
“These other guys sitting there and talking saying you can’t play two tours, that’s hypocritical as ever, these guys are playing the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.”
Can LIV Golf players play in Majors?
LIV Golf players are still eligible for the Majors – at least for now. All of the LIV Golf players who would normally qualify for The Open competed at the 150th Open at St Andrews, albeit to a mixed reception from fans.
LIV players have received reassurance from R&A CEO Martin Slumbers that they will be welcome at The Open.
“We’ll go public in January/February with what we are going to do with regard to LIV Golfers,’’ Slumbers said. “But you want a guide, go back to what I said in July (at St. Andrews). We’re not banning anyone. We are not going to betray 150 years of history and have the Open not be open. The name says it all. And that’s important. What we will do is ensure that there are appropriate pathways and ways to qualify.
“I’m looking forward to seeing (2022 champion and now LIV player) Cam Smith tee-up around 9:40 a.m. on the first day of the Open next year. The Open needs to set itself aside from what’s going on in terms of disagreements and make sure we stay true to our principle, which is to have the best players in the world competing.”
“To me, this is not about ‘them and us,’” he said. “I have no issue with the players. People play for a living. I note that Saudi Arabia wants to invest a lot of money in the game I love and care about. That’s a good thing. But I want to preserve the pathways and meritocracy on which our game is built. Sport without that isn’t sport. I want to make sure we have the best players competing week in and week out.”
It has been suggested that The Masters could ban the defectors but there has been no official decision.
Of the LIV Golf players who qualified for the US Open, only Martin Kaymer was missing from the field after suffering an injury.
However, should LIV fail to get approval for Official World Golf Ranking points at its events then its players will begin to slide down the rankings and, unless exempt, could lose their spots in the field for the Grand Slam events.
RELATED: R&A chief slams LIV Golf
Will the LIV Golf Series events carry Official World Golf Ranking points?
As it stands, no. World ranking points haven’t been offered at any of LIV’s events to date, but they have applied for their events to qualify going forwards.
That application hasn’t been denied but they do take a long time to process, hence the events missing out so far.
LIV’s players wrote to Peter Dawson, the Official World Golf Rankings chairman, urging him and his committee to grant them OWGR status.
Former World No.1 Ernie Els doesn’t believe LIV events should receive world ranking points, and pointed to the Champions Tour as an example.
“The rest of the world is playing 72-hole stroke-play events. You have a cut after 36 holes and that’s how you get your ranking and make your money. LIV Golf doesn’t do that, so why would you be under the same brush with the rest of the world? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s a different format of golf. It’s what we do on the Champions Tour at the age of 50 and they don’t give us world ranking points.
“Just because you are playing for $20 million a week doesn’t change anything. It’s still 54 holes. There’s no basis to it, there’s no substance to it. You can’t have a 48-man tour playing no-cut golf and expect the world to take you seriously. It’s not going to happen.”
If LIV’s OWGR application is approved then don’t expect to see the kind of points on offer that we see at top PGA Tour events and Majors. Points for each event are based on the field strength and, according to rankings expert Nosferatu on Twitter, the winner of the Centurion event would have received just 25 if they were available. In comparison, Major winners receive 100 and the PGA Tour events fluctuate but tend to be around 45-50.
Can LIV Golf players play in the Ryder Cup?
It’s a bit up in the air. Americans definitely can’t while no formal decision has been made over the Europeans. Although if Rory McIlroy has his way then he won’t have any LIV players as teammates.
“I have said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times, I don’t think any of those guys should be on the Ryder Cup team. I think we were in need of a rebuild, anyway. We did well with the same guys for a very long time but again as I just said, everything comes to an end at some point. I think Whistling Straits is a good sort of demarcation, I guess,” the four-time Major champion said ahead of his Italian Open debut at the 2023 Ryder Cup venue.
“I think the European Team has a core of six or seven guys that I think we all know are pretty much going to be on that team, and then it’s up to some of the younger guys to maybe step up. You’ve got your core there with experience in the Ryder Cup and played in a few, so I think you’re looking for some of these younger guys over the next 12 months to step up and put their hand up for a possible pick.
“We have got a core group of guys but let’s build on that again, and instead of filling those three or four spots with older veterans, let’s blood some rookies and let’s get them in and build towards the future. I think that’s important.”
US Open champ Matt Fitzpatrick saw it slightly differently as he prepared for the tournament at Marco Simone Country Club.
“I just want to win the Ryder Cup,” said Fitzpatrick, who has lost in his two appearances to date (2016 and 2021).
“I want to be part of the team myself, but I want the 11 best guys we can get. I’m not really too bothered about where they are going to come from. I just want to make sure that we win and I think that’s what’s most important.
“I know other guys might not necessarily agree with that, but I know the winning feeling is worth more than any sort of arguments you might have with other players.
“There’s one that I had a conversation with last week – I told him I’d happily have him on the team. I’d have no issues.”
However, the chances of LIV’s European players being eligible seem slim after Henrik Stenson was stripped of Europe’s Ryder Cup captaincy when he made the $40m move to LIV (Full story here). Luke Donald replaced the Swede, who was said to have breached his contract but a decision over players is yet to be made.
“That’s to be seen and kind of a hypothetical question,” Donald said at his unveiling. “But over the next few months hopefully we’ll have some clarity on that situation and we can start making some decisions about that when it becomes more clear.”
“There’s a legal situation going on. I don’t think that situation’s going to get resolved any time soon. So until that does, I can’t really comment on it because there’s no real answer.”
As it stands any American player who resigns from the PGA Tour won’t be eligible to play in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup – so DJ, Koepka, DeChambeau, Reed, Wolff, et al, are out of the running unless the rules change or they rejoin. US captain Zach Johnson has also made it clear that he won’t pick any LIV players for his team.
European stars Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, and Lee Westwood have admitted they’re in the dark over their future playing or, more likely, captaincy hopes.
In an exclusive interview with TG, McDowell told us he’d had to think long and hard about his Ryder Cup captaincy dreams before committing to LIV Golf, while Ian Poulter called it “an unknown risk”.
Sergio Garcia, the Ryder Cup’s all-time leading points scorer, has been involved in every Ryder Cup since 1999 and, before joining LIV Golf, was nailed on to play a part in 2023 and captain the side in the future, but that is now in doubt.
The Spaniard announced his resignation from the DP World Tour during the 150th Open, saying he wanted to “play where they want me, I like to feel loved, and honestly on the European Tour I don’t feel loved now,” meaning he’d be ineligible for the biennial match.
“When Thomas Bjorn comes to the BMW Championship and tells us that here ‘we don’t want any of you and all the players say so’, well, I’m already old enough not to be putting up with nonsense like that,” the 42-year-old said.
“There are comments that do not make you feel good. I have given more than half of my life to the European Tour and I was going to continue on the European Tour.
“I feel sorry for the Ryder Cup, my resignation is not official, but I’m going to make it effective. I have what I have and I am very happy with it and I want to enjoy it to the fullest. I will play less, I will be more at home.”
However, it appears Garcia, who has scored 28.5 points in his Ryder Cup career, has changed his mind after a heart-to-heart with countryman Jon Rahm.
“When I finished the Open Championship [last] Sunday, I said that I was most likely going to resign my membership from the [DP World] Tour,” he said. “That obviously meant not being eligible for the Ryder Cup because you have to be a member.
“But thanks to the things that Jon Rahm said, and I had a couple of good conversations with guys on the [DP World] Tour, I’m going to hold off on that.
“I want to at least see what’s happening when the Ryder Cup qualification starts. See what kind of rules and eligibilities they have in there.
“If I agree with what they [are], I’ll definitely keep playing whatever I can on the tour and try to qualify for that Ryder Cup team.
“And, if not, then we’ll move on. But it is definitely something that is in my mind.”
Westwood, meanwhile, doesn’t believe his participation in LIV events should have any impact on his Ryder Cup hopes.
“Why should it be threatened? I’ve been playing Ryder Cup golf since 1997, and the criteria has been to be a member of the European Tour,” he said. “Now, the criteria for being a member of the European Tour is to play four events. Why should they change that now?
“I’ve been a member of the PGA Tour and still played four events on the European Tour, and why would the European Tour change their rules so dramatically because another tour doesn’t like it or feels financially threatened? There’s just a bit too much protection going on for my liking and not enough transparency.
“I think as long as you fulfill the criteria to be a European Tour member, then you should still have the opportunity to try and qualify for the Ryder Cup team.”
We await the official PGA Tour, DP World Tour, Ryder Cup USA, and Ryder Cup Europe decisions with interest.
Are LIV Golf players banned from the Presidents Cup?
The Presidents Cup is a PGA Tour event and the PGA Tour has suspended LIV players from any of its events and its teams.
“I personally think that the team events are only hurting themselves by not allowing us to play, not allowing us to qualify through some capacity, in some facet,” DeChambeau said at LIV’s Chicago event.
“But I would say from a team aspect, it is sad that those governing bodies have not allowed us to be able to qualify.
“I want to play in numerous events on the PGA Tour. It would be awesome. That’s what LIV Golf has tried to, they have allowed us to play on the PGA Tour. It’s the PGA Tour barring us from doing so.”
Trevor Immelman’s International team, made up of players from the rest of the world excluding Europe, missed out on several key players, including Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Joaquin Niemann, Anirban Lahiri, and Abraham Ancer.
Will Tiger Woods ever play in the LIV Golf Series?
In a word, no. That’s despite Greg Norman claiming that the 15-time Major champ would receive a “mind-blowingly enormous” amount to be involved – close to a billion dollars. “We’re talking about high nine digits,” Norman said.
Tiger, meanwhile, made his views on Liv Golf pretty clear.
“I understand different viewpoints, but I believe in legacies. I believe in major championships. I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past. There’s plenty of money out here. The tour is growing. But it’s just like any other sport. It’s like tennis. You have to go out there and earn it. You’ve got to go out there and play for it. We have opportunity to go ahead and do it. It’s just not guaranteed up front.
“I just think that what Jack (Nicklaus) and Arnold (Palmer) have done in starting the (PGA Tour) and breaking away from the PGA of America and creating our tour in ’68 or ’69, somewhere in there, I just think there’s a legacy to that. I’ve been playing out here for a couple of decades, and I think there’s a legacy do it. I still think that the tour has so much to offer, so much opportunity.
“Some players have never got a chance to even experience it. They’ve gone right from the amateur ranks right into that organisation and never really got a chance to play out here and what it feels like to play a TOUR schedule or to play in some big events. And who knows what’s going to happen in the near future with world-ranking points, the criteria for entering major championships. The governing body is going to have to figure that out.
“That, to me, I just don’t understand it. I understand what Jack and Arnold did because playing professional golf at a TOUR level versus a club pro is different, and I understand that transition and that move and the recognition that a touring pro versus a club pro is. But what these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practise? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt?
“You’re just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They’re playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different. I just don’t see how, out of 54 holes — I can understand 54 holes is almost like a mandate when you get to the Senior Tour. The guys are little bit older and a little more banged up.
“But when you’re at this young age and some of these kids — they really are kids who have gone from amateur golf into that organisation – 72-hole tests are part of it. We used to have 36-hole playoffs for major championships. That’s how it used to be – 18-hole US Open playoffs.
“I just don’t see how that move is positive in the long term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organisation doesn’t get world-ranking points and the major championships change their criteria for entering the events. It would be sad to see some of these young kids never get a chance to experience it and experience what we’ve got a chance to experience and walk these hallowed grounds and play in these championships.”
RELATED: Tiger’s Major wins ranked and rated
Is the LIV Golf Series going to last?
It’s impossible to say for sure, but the money is there, increasingly big-name players still at their peak are signing up, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the rest of golf to dismiss Liv Golf, even if they wish they could.
“Just because we are talking about ’23, ’24 and ’25, we’re looking way beyond that too,” says Greg Norman. “We are looking at decades.”
What is LIV Golf’s longer-term plan?
The LIV Golf Invitational Series will become the LIV Golf League in 2023, expanding from eight events to 14 tournaments, which will be played across the globe.
The same 48 players will compete in all 14 events as part of 12 established four-man teams, with the captain of each team taking control of growing their franchise.
They will be given 25% ownership of their team and support from LIV to help develop it, controlling their team’s identity and being allowed to hire staff and fully influence how it develops. This is another major attraction for players when joining LIV. If a player can help their team or brand grow into a franchise that’s worth $500m or $1bn, then they and the principal players on that team will all own 25% of it.
There is also a plan to offer individual sponsorship of the 12 teams in the men’s and women’s series. According to reports, Srixon are among the brands keen to get involved and would sponsor an all-Japanese team if Hideki Matsuyama does, as expected, make the move.
An all-Australian team is also rumoured, expected to be made up of Cameron Smith, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Matt Jones. LIV plan to take two International Series events to Australia in addition to a LIV Golf League event, which we believe will be played in Sydney in April. The three events will be played in quick succession to allow LIV’s players to compete in all of them.
Promotion and relegation will also be introduced, with players who finish in the bottom places at the end of each season losing their spot (although certain players will be exempt) and being replaced by players who have performed best in the Asian Tour or in a Q-School style event.
While this is yet to be confirmed, our understanding is that LIV will expand and create a women’s tour in 2023 following the same format as the men’s events. But, unlike the LET and LPGA, the women will be offered the same prize funds as the men with tournaments played on the same course over the same three days. The shotgun start format will allow the men to play in the morning and then the women in the afternoon or vice-versa, making tournaments even more attractive to fans and helping LIV develop their plan to grow the game. Additionally, we will see the introduction of some additional mixed tournaments.
FULL STORY: LIV to introduce league format in 2023
Hasn’t Greg Norman tried to create a breakaway golf tour before?
Yes, he sure has. Back in the mid-1990s Norman, then World No.1, wanted to create a breakaway golf league for him and the world’s other top players because he didn’t believe they were getting a fair cut of the PGA Tour’s money.
He believed that the superstars should be paid more than lesser-known names, even if they finished in the same position in a tournament, because it was the top players who were bringing attention to the events.
He proposed that those big-name players compete in more exclusive, small-field events around the world that would pay huge appearance fees, but it never really made it off the ground due to the PGA Tour’s minimum 15 appearances rule.
Could it be that it still irks him, all those years later? With a reported net worth of more than $400m, it feels unlikely, but, as this whole situation has shown, some people can never have enough money.
How can I get tickets for the LIV Golf Invitational Series events?
If you want to watch any of the events live, tickets will be sold on the LIV website. They were priced from £69 for the London event and £52 for students, with kids going free with paying adults.
For context, a ticket to a tournament day at this year’s 150th Open at St Andrews was £95, while tickets for the British Masters started from as little as £40. However, the shotgun start also means less opportunity to see as much golf with the entire field on the course at the same time and finished within around five hours.
Huge crowds attended the Centurion tournament, but it is unknown how many bought their tickets, with players in the field giving away free entry via their social media channels.
What can spectators expect at the LIV Golf events?
Fans will be able to walk the course and view the action from a host of platforms. They’ll also be able to enjoy the fan village, designed to celebrate the spirit of the host city. Each evening at Centurion club saw live music performances, with sets from James Bay and James Morrison on Thursday, Craig David and John Newman on Friday, and Mel C and Jessie J on Saturday. Chainsmokers will be performing at the Bedminster event.
The LIV Golf Performance Centre had professional coaches offering tips as guests tested their skills on swing simulators and a Zen Green Stage, which recreated the challenging slopes and expert shots completed by their favorite pros at the world’s most iconic courses.
Meanwhile, gamers could visit the Metaverse Tent, where Esports and virtual reality exhibits took fans inside the game through friendly competition. LIV Golf also presented an Eco Village where all items will have a sustainable life cycle, including a hydration area, mobile recycling unit, eco retail store, power bikes, and recycled furniture.
A specific kids zone provided entertainers, soft play, crazy golf, educational lessons and face painting, while the Blades aerobatic team and warbirds performed an air show.
How can I watch the LIV Golf Series?
According to reports, a television deal is in the offing.
LIV Golf are trying to revolutionise golf broadcasting with more than 50 cameras across the course, 16 different camera towers, and drone footage, along with tracer technology on shots. They also have 60 microphones incorporated from tee to green on every hole, including player and caddie mics to bring fans inside the competition.
RELATED: DP World Tour’s 2022 schedule
Is LIV Golf getting good viewing figures?
If you were to believe all the chat from LIV fan accounts on social media then there are more people watching the 54-hole events than tuned in for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding.
But in reality, no. LIV’s events are currently broadcast for free on YouTube but according to Twitter account @robopz, which has been monitoring tournament streams data every 15 minutes during the events, the numbers are far from impressive, with the LIV Chicago audience peaking at 95,000 viewers.
Despite the claims, Greg Norman claimed “that the interest coming across our plate right now is enormous,” when asked about a television deal.
“We’re talking to four different networks – and live conversations where offers are being put on the table. Because [the networks] can see the value of our product, they can see what we’re delivering.”
Apple TV have reportedly snubbed the opportunity to broadcast LIV, due to “its toxic nature”.
How do the players’ sponsors feel about them joining LIV Golf?
RBC immediately ended their sponsorship of Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell following their decision to join the LIV Golf Series.
Phil Mickelson’s deal with Callaway has been on ‘pause’ since February, following his well-documented comments about the Saudis, while Rocket Mortgages immediately ended their agreement with Bryson DeChambeau when he signed for LIV.
Mutual of Omaha confirmed the end of their sponsorship of Henrik Stenson, by mutual agreement, and the Swedish Golf Federation has severed its ties with the Swede, saying he can “no longer act as role model for Swedish junior golfers.”
Players’ participation in the new series could also impact deals with their equipment manufacturers. Many of their contracts will be based on them playing on golf’s main tours and the worldwide coverage they receive in those events. With LIV Golf events played across fewer rounds and with all players on the course at the same time, manufacturers may feel agreements are being breached.
The likes of TaylorMade, Callaway, Srixon, Ping and Titleist are yet to make any official announcements, but it is our understanding that the brands are holding urgent internal meetings to set out their stalls.
What changes has Jay Monahan announced to the PGA Tour schedule?
The PGA Tour’s commissioner has announced a lucrative new series for the top players to counter the threat from LIV, along with significant increases to purses at a host of tournaments.
Speaking at the Travelers Championship, Monahan reiterated his belief that the PGA Tour is in a strong position and, while he admitted they are “under attack”, he assured players that they are “strong when we are united,” and that the tour has long-standing strong relationships with its corporate partners.
“Let me be clear, I am not naive,” Monahan said. “If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can’t compete. The PGA Tour, an American institution, can’t compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in an attempt to buy the game of golf. We welcome good, healthy competition.
“The LIV Saudi golf league is not that. It’s an irrational threat; one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game.
Starting next year, the PGA Tour schedule will include eight limited-field no-cut events, with purses of $20 million or more each, for the top 50 finishers in the prior season’s FedEx Cup standings. Some of those events will be in the heart of the season, while others will be in the fall and three will be played outside of America. Those outside the top 50 will compete in an alternate series of tournaments, where they will fight to keep their cards and earn better status for the following season.
Monahan also revealed a huge increase in prize money at several key events, with the Genesis Invitational, the Bay Hill Invitational, the World Match Play, the Memorial, the Fed Ex St Jude and the BMW Championship all having purses of $20 million, and the Players Championship rising to $25 million.
Prize money has already increased by 17 percent to $427 million for this season and commissioner Jay Monahan has revealed plans to increase the purses at limited-field events in the regular season to at least $20m and establish a new, lucrative fall schedule for the top 50 finishers in the FedEx Cup standings.
Plus every member is being offered a $50,000 ‘sweetener’ just for making 15 starts or more in a season. Then there’s a $20 million bonus pool for the top 10 at the end of the regular PGA Tour season – and that’s before you dive into the financials of the FedEx Cup Play Offs where this year’s winner will walk away with $18 million. If you win the Player Impact Program as well, you can add another $10 million just for being popular.
Now you can see why Rory McIlroy was so bullish in claiming that “anyone who plays well over the next few years is going to get seriously rich”.
Where has the PGA Tour found this extra money?
Earlier this year Phil Mickelson hinted that the PGA Tour had more money available than it was letting on. While it may not be the amounts he suggested, it certainly appears there was some truth in what he said.
Much of the funds have come from the media rights deal, believed to be valued at $7 billion, that the Tour signed at the beginning of 2020.
Is the PGA Tour expecting commitment from players?
It sure is.
Under the new system, the PGA Tour’s “top players” will commit to at least a 20-event PGA TOUR schedule (assuming they qualify), which includes:
• 12 Elevated Events
• FedExCup Playoffs
• FedEx St. Jude Championship – $20 million
• BMW Championship – $20 million
• TOUR Championship/FedExCup Bonus Pool – $75 million
• The Genesis Invitational – $20 million
• Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard – $20 million
• the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday – $20 million
• WGC-Dell Match Play Championship – $20 million
• Sentry Tournament of Champions – $15 million
• To be announced: four additional Elevated Events – purses of at least $20 million each (an
approximately $46 million incremental addition to the total purse level for 2022-23)
• THE PLAYERS Championship – $25 million
• Masters Tournament, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, The Open Championship
• 3 additional FedExCup events (of the player’s choosing)
A “top player” will be defined as players who finish in the top 20 under the current Player Impact Program AND players who finish in the top 20 under the revised PIP criteria.
The PGA Tour is guaranteeing money, too…
LIV Golf has been criticised for offering players huge amounts of money based on appearances, rather than performances, which many have said removes the competitive element of playing for your living.
But it’s clearly appealed to a lot of big-name players, and the PGA Tour has introduced its own “Earnings Assurance Program” for fully exempt members of the Korn Ferry Tour and above, guaranteeing players money and covering expenses, regardless of performance:
• Guaranteed league minimum of $500,000 per player (TOUR funds any gaps in earnings)
• Rookies and returning members will receive money up front
• Must participate in 15 events
• Replaces “Play15” Program
Travel Stipend Program
• For non-exempt members (126-150 category and below)
• Receive $5,000 for every missed cut
• Subsidizes travel and tournament-related expenses
• Does not impact tournament purses
And the DP World Tour and PGA Tour have strengthened their ‘alliance’?
Yes. The two tours were already working together but the relationship has further bonded to try and counter LIV’s threat. As part of the changes the top 10 DP World Tour players each season will gain PGA Tour cards.
For the first time since 2012, players will also be able to head to PGA Tour Q-School next year where the top five (and ties) will win a ticket to the big time. The top 30 finishers on the Korn Ferry Tour will also be awarded a card, up from the current 25.
“We are not a feeder tour into the PGA Tour,” says Pelley. “We are a vibrant, independent, strong tour with incredible tournaments. There is one component of our new deal, which is a massive component for our players to be able to get access to the PGA Tour, the world’s greatest and largest tour. But it’s one component of it.”
And is there a PGA Tour golf league now?
There will be a new, tech-infused, team golf league in partnership with the PGA Tour, fronted by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, kicking off in January 2024. Players will compete in a studio using a golf simulator and various chipping and putting areas.