The brand new golf tour started on Thursday in London, with followers arriving on the Centurion Membership to witness a few of the sport’s greatest names enjoying within the inaugural occasion simply north of London.
However what’s the LIV Golf sequence, the brand new enterprise which threatens to shake the foundations of the game to its core?
It’s a brand new tour organized by LIV Golf Investments which consists of eight occasions internationally, which started in London on Thursday.
Fronted by former world No. 1 Greg Norman, the team-based sequence runs from June to October with the goal, it says, to “holistically enhance the well being of professional golf on a world scale to assist unlock the sports activities’ (sic) untapped potential.”
It’s backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund (PIF) – a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the person who a US intelligence report named as answerable for approving the operation that led to the 2018 homicide of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman has denied involvement in Khashoggi’s homicide.
The PIF has pledged to award $250 million in complete prize cash. Every of the primary seven occasions could have a complete prize purse of $25 million, with $20 million break up between particular person gamers and the remaining $5 million shared between the highest three groups on the finish of every week.
Forward of the primary occasion in London, the 12 groups have been introduced, in addition to their captain. On Tuesday, captains chosen the remainder of their groups in a draft format akin to the NFL and NBA drafts.
In contrast to typical golfing occasions, London’s occasion is over three days, not 4, with the 48-man area starting with a shotgun begin – all on the identical time – within the hopes of being a extra partaking, action-packed fashion occasion.
Competing in a standard stroke play format, the bottom rating would be the winner.
Whereas within the first two rounds, the perfect two scores will rely for every staff, within the last spherical, the perfect three scores will rely, with the bottom general staff rating after 54 holes being named the staff winner.
For the ultimate occasion – a staff championship – the format modifications to a four-round, match-play knockout match.
The attention-watering cash on provide has attracted a mixture of golfers to join the opening occasion in London, from all ages, backgrounds and success on the golf course.
Six-time main winner Phil Mickelson and former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson are amongst these to headline the occasion, whereas different main winners Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel additionally participated.
Ryder Cup stalwarts Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood additionally have been a part of the primary cohort to enroll, and the sector consists of 18 gamers ranked within the prime 100 on this planet.
However, it additionally offered a platform for different golfers simply making their first strides within the sport, together with Thailand’s 15-year-old Ratchanon Chantananuwat.
2020 US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau was the following blockbuster title to enroll, including his title on Friday to the ever-growing listing of gamers to affix.
And in response to a number of reviews, 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed would be the subsequent massive title to enroll to the breakaway tour.
The LIV Golf sequence hasn’t come with out its query marks.
The supply of the cash, Saudi Arabia’s PIF, has led to queries and criticism geared toward organizers and gamers about selecting to play for cash from the nation given its human rights report.
The nation has been criticized by human rights teams for years. In March, Saudi Arabia executed 81 men within the greatest mass execution in a long time. Rights teams have criticized the nation for executing individuals who have been minors on the time of the offenses for which they have been convicted.
One other avenue of controversy surrounding the league is the breakaway nature from golf’s established excursions.
The PGA Tour and the DP World Tour – previously the European Tour – have lengthy been the place gamers have plied their commerce throughout calendar, exterior of the 4 majors.
However, offering financial and life stability points as excuses, the choice from a faction of gamers who broke away to play within the LIV Golf sequence has been met with combined response from their fellow tour members.
On the eve of the sequence, the world’s most profitable golf occasion, the opponents have been grilled by journalists in an often-tense press convention in St Albans, England.
Mickelson was the primary focus of consideration, primarily as a result of he is likely one of the sport’s greatest stars but in addition as a result of this can be his first aggressive occasion since his controversial feedback concerning the Saudi Arabian-funded occasions have been revealed earlier this 12 months by his biographer.
The six-time main winner was quoted from a 2021 interview with creator Alan Shipnuck for his upcoming e-book, “Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colourful Famous person,” as saying that he would think about becoming a member of the proposed Tremendous League as a result of it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime alternative to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”
Shipnuck quoted Mickelson as saying disparaging issues about Saudi Arabia’s human rights report and asserting that the dominion killed journalist Khashoggi.
In his opening reply in Wednesday’s press convention, when requested concerning the human rights report of the nation offering funding for the enterprise, Mickelson seemed to be remorseful.
“I don’t condone human rights violations in any respect,” he repeatedly mentioned.
Johnson – the highest-ranked participant within the competitors at 15 on this planet – resigned his PGA Tour membership and mentioned on Tuesday: “I don’t wish to play for the remainder of my life, this provides me a possibility to do what I wish to do.”
Europe’s Ryder Cup stalwart Graeme McDowell was additionally requested concerning the killing of Khashoggi throughout his press convention.
“All of us agree that was reprehensible. Nobody’s going to argue that reality however we’re golfers. We’re not politicians.
“If Saudi Arabia wish to use the sport of golf as a manner for them to get to the place they wish to be, we’re proud to assist them on that journey, utilizing the sport of golf and the skills we’ve got to assist develop the game.”
The primary LIV occasion is happening on the Centurion Membership. That and the PGA Tour’s Canadian Open are being held nearly concurrently and is the primary head-to-head showdown between the 2 excursions.
The Centurion’s $25 million purse nearly triples the Canadian Open’s $eight.7 million. Defending his title in Canada can be Rory McIlroy, the world No. eight.
“Any resolution that you simply make in your life that’s purely for cash often doesn’t find yourself going the suitable manner,” mentioned McIlroy on Wednesday, as reported by Reuters.
“Clearly, cash is a deciding consider loads of issues on this world, but when it’s purely for cash, it’s not, it by no means appears to go the best way you need it to.”
When it comes to star energy, the Canadian Open will simply trump the Centurion line-up. Among the many headliners in Toronto can be world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas.
“Individuals are entitled to decide on as they need,” mentioned Thomas. “I don’t dislike DJ now. I don’t assume he’s a foul dude. I’m not going to deal with him any in another way.
“He’s entitled to decide on as he needs.
“Now, I’m upset and I want that he and others wouldn’t have completed it, however that’s their resolution.”
It’s unclear what this can imply for the way forward for golf, and the place gamers will select to ply their commerce sooner or later.
Lots of the gamers impacted by the ban – Mickelson, Westwood and Poulter – are within the twilights of their careers, maybe lowering the severity of the suspension.
A couple of gamers, together with Johnson, Garcia and Kevin Na, resigned their PGA Tour standing earlier than play began on Thursday in London.
However for six-time main winner Mickelson, who has already earned lifetime standing on the PGA Tour, it throws into query his long-term dedication to the tour. He mentioned in his press convention on Wednesday forward of the inaugural LIV Golf sequence occasion that he didn’t wish to hand over his lifetime membership of the PGA Tour, saying: “I’ve earned that, and I don’t plan on simply giving it up.”
And for the younger expertise within the recreation, the suspension presents a conundrum.
The PGA Tour is the preeminent golf tour on this planet in the intervening time, and due to this fact seen as the top. Nevertheless, the brand new, big-money tour presents a big incomes alternative for gamers across the globe, specifically the up-and-coming expertise.
Do youthful gamers resolve to decide to the LIV Golf sequence, thereby ruining their possibilities at enjoying on the PGA Tour, or keep on with the ‘conventional’ route and play on the PGA Tour and probably scale back their incomes capabilities?
The DP World Tour – the game’s present second greatest tour – has but to announce any potential sanctions to gamers. When contacted by CNN, it mentioned it had “no remark to make” on the LIV Golf sequence.
As for golf’s 4 majors, gamers’ appearances on the LIV Golf sequence have additionally thrown their participation in these into disarray.
Though subsequent week’s US Open has mentioned gamers are free to play in the event that they’re certified, subsequent month’s Open Championship at St. Andrew’s has but to make a public resolution.
Shortly after the announcement, LIV Golf launched a strongly worded response, calling the suspension “vindictive.”
“At present’s announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and it deepens the divide between the Tour and its members,” it mentioned.
“It’s troubling that the Tour, a company devoted to creating alternatives for golfers to play the sport, is the entity blocking golfers from enjoying. This definitely is just not the final phrase on this matter. The period of free company is starting as we’re proud to have a full area of gamers becoming a member of us in London, and past.”