Saudi-backed LIV Golf taking the sports world by storm
The Saudi-backed LIV Golf International Series Event is taking the golf world by storm as it kickstarts in London this Thursday, June 9, whereby the first shots of this tournament will be fired. The inaugural event, set to take place from Thursday to Saturday at the Centurion Club in London, is the first of eight invitational tournaments that comprise the whole event series and which can be aligned in the following table:
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 No1. It is also meant to challenge the longstanding reign of the rival US PGA Tour.
Why does it have beef with the PGA?
Reports first began to surface of a rival league to the PGA Tour as far back as 2019, but it was only in late 2021 that the proposal truly began to take shape with the formation of LIV Golf Investments.
This new entity, with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) as its majority shareholder, made an initial $200 million commitment to the Asian Tour, later increased to $300 million, and appointed Greg Norman as its CEO.
In March, despite the PGA Tour threatening to hand out lifetime bans to players who defect to a rival league, LIV Golf announced the schedule for its eight-event, $225million invitational series. In addition, several PGA Tour winners such as 33rd-globally ranked player Kevin Na and two-time major golf champion Dustin Johnson surrendered their status and announced they were joining LIV Golf.
Why the term “LIV”?
LIV 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) which owns 80% of Newcastle Football Club.
How many players and what is the format?
The tournaments will feature 48 players drafted into 12 four-man teams.
All 48 players compete against each other in a traditional stroke play format, with the lowest 54-hole total from the no-cut event being the winner, while a draft will help allocate players into the team format
Each team will have a LIV-appointed team captain who will select their three open team positions via a snake draft format, similar to those used on the Ladies European Tour in the Aramco Team Series.
For the first two rounds, the best two-stroke play scores will count for each team. For the third and final round, the best three scores will count, with the lowest overall team score after 54 holes being named the team winner.
The format changes in the Team Championship, which is a seeded four-day, four-round, match play knock-out tournament. The top four seeds automatically receive a bye through the first round, with the remaining eight teams playing against each other to see who reaches the quarter-finals.
The names of the players have been announced on the LIV official page. They include big names like Dustin Johnson, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Hudson Swafford, and Lee Westwood, among the other top names. Rumors are swirling that Rickie Fowler could also join!
How much money will players earn?
The first seven events all have a prize purse of $25million, with $20m being distributed between the 48-man field and the remaining $5m being shared between the top three teams at the end of each week.
The winner will receive $4 million, considerably more than the $2.7 million awarded to Scottie Scheffler for his victory at The Masters and Justin Thomas secured for his PGA Championship success, while every player is guaranteed at least $120,000 just for completing 54 holes.
An Individual Champion will be crowned at the end of those events, with a $30 million fund distributed for the top three players of the season, providing they have played in a minimum of four tournaments.
The prize purse doubles for the season finale in Miami and sees $50 million allocated between each of the 12 four-man teams. Each player receives a 25 percent cut of team earnings, with $16 million awarded to the winning team and $1 million for the team finishing 12th.
What are LIV’s events?
As mentioned before, the inaugural event in London is the first of eight tournaments due to take place over the next few months, including five in the United States and two in Asia, with an expanded schedule then planned in the coming years.
What are LIV’s future plans?
LIV Golf plans to have 10 events in its 2023 calendar before expanding to 14 tournaments from 2024, although dates and locations for those have not yet been confirmed.
“We have a long-term vision and we’re here to stay,” said Norman, the CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, via a release. “We’re going to grow the game, give more opportunities to players, and create a more entertaining product for fans.”
Will it challenge the long-standing reins of the PGA?
We don’t know! Watch and see what happens!