LIV Golf unveils plans for eight-event series: reports

Long-discussed Saudi-backed rival to PGA Tour proposes June start in London


AFP March 17, 2022

WASHINGTON:

A long-discussed Saudi Arabian-backed rival for the US PGA Tour unveiled details for a 2022 season on Wednesday, with a June start in London and four US events, according to multiple media reports.

The money-spinning LIV Golf International Series will feature eight tournaments with $255 million in prize money, the last of them a team match-play championship in October, according to Golf Channel, Golfweek, Golf magazine, ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

With purses of $25 million per tournament, every leg of the series will be more lucrative than the richest event on the PGA Tour, with approximately more than double the prize money on offer for golf's four majors.

"I want golf to grow, players to have additional opportunities, and fans to have more fun," LIV Golf Investments chief executive Greg Norman said.

"In many ways, we're a start-up. We have a long-term vision and aim to grow. I believe we have a very bright and exciting future."

Players who have signed up to the 54-hole, no-cut events that feature team and individual competition and fields of up to 48 players across 12 four-man teams were not revealed.

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, who last year at age 50 won the PGA Championship to become the oldest major winner in golf history, is among those often mentioned in connection with the upstart series.

Mickelson created uproar last month after the emergence of comments to golf author Alan Shipnuck in which he said he was willing to support the new Saudi-backed venture despite concerns over the kingdom's human rights record, which he decried as "horrible."

The series calendar is set to commence June 9-11 in London at Centurion Golf Club. That's the same week US PGA players would be at the Canadian Open and a week before the US Open on June 16-19 at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

US PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has said players competing in any rival series would face banishment from PGA events while Norman has countered by saying such a ban would be illegal because players are independent contractors who can play where they want.

Four US tournaments would follow on the LIV series, starting July 1-3 at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland, Oregon with the next July 29-31 at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey.

This year's PGA Championship, set for May at Southern Hills in Tulsa, had been originally set to be played at Trump Bedminster but was moved in January 2021 when the PGA of America decided staging the event there would be "detrimental" to its brand.

The Portland tournament would be opposite the PGA's John Deere Classic and the Trump National tournament at the same time as a PGA event in Detroit.

Other US events would be played September 2-4 at Boston at The International and September 16-18 at Rich Harvest Farms in Chicago.

The LIV Golf series would move to Bangkok on October 7-9, Saudi Arabia on October 14-16, and October 28-30 at a venue to be determined.

The seven regular LIV Golf events would each have $25 million in prize money, the heftiest purses in golf, with $20 million for individuals and $5 million divided among teams.

Three top players after the seven "season" events would divide $30 million in bonus money. Another $50 million would be paid out at the team finale.

Many top players have voiced their support for the PGA when asked about the Saudi-backed plan, including Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa.

Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen of South Africa said LIV Golf might have had a better reception had it not come on so strong so quickly.

"It seems to want to take away a little bit of the stardom from the PGA Tour," Goosen told Golf Channel. "Maybe if they slowly headed their way in and not come with such an aggressive approach of just trying to take players away instantly, it might have been looked at in a different light.

"It's a fine line between saying it's a good thing or it's a bad thing. For some guys it's going to be another lease on life maybe making some really good money.

"But I don't think the PGA Tour needs to be worried all its stars are suddenly going to be running off and disappearing."

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