The PGA Tour currently hosts tournaments for golf’s biggest names. Is a war brewing with LIV Golf?
Professional golf appears to be at a crossroads, and not everyone knows about it. Competing golf tours are nothing new, but one in particular is causing the PGA Tour to take notice.
The PGA Tour and the European Tour still attract the best players in the world, but now those players have other, potentially more lucrative opportunities in the form of LIV Golf, a new tour funded by the Saudi Arabian regime. Phil Mickelson has been in hot water since March for his public role in the Saudi-backed golf series. In late April, Mickelson’s agent confirmed his registration in LIV Golf’s first event. Slowly but surely, other players have begun to follow in Mickelson’s footsteps.
What is LIV Golf?
Greg Norman’s brainchild, the LIV Golf Invitational Series, is a Saudi Arabian-funded tour that’s aiming to compete with the PGA Tour and lure in some of its top players. This year LIV Golf has developed an eight-tournament series starting in June with purses PGA Tour players find hard to ignore. These payouts are backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which has put up another $2 billion in funding, according to Norman. This year’s series is thought to be the first step in a year-long league. The goal is to expand to 10 tournaments in 2023 and 14 in the following two years. Winning shares in these events are reported to be around $4 million with last place paying $120,000. Players can also receive hefty appearance fees that can run in the millions of dollars.
The PGA Tour’s Hard Line
While the PGA Tour routinely grants waivers for players to compete in other events, it has elected to deny release requests to play in the upcoming LIV inaugural event in London. The decision essentially forces PGA Tour members who applied for the release, like Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, to make a choice: play in the LIV event or continue to be a tour member in good standing. Many believe this will all eventually end up in court with some players who participate in LIV events facing lawsuits. Norman has said that LIV will cover the cost of any player litigation, but there is still a lot of speculation on the direction this will eventually take. Stay tuned.