The LIV Golf Invitational Series – or the LIV Golf League as it will be known in 2023 – is three events deep into its tenure after causing one of the biggest disruptions in the history of professional golf.
This new format, funded by Saudi Arabian money and fronted by former No.1 ranked Greg Norman, has created controversy since its birth, becoming one of the hottest topics in golf the sport has witnessed in some time.
Debuting at the Centurion Club, London, earlier in June, the tournament has hosted three events this year, and five will commence before the end of 2022.
But many are still asking why it is drawing attention from world-renowned players like Dustin Johnson, how the PGA Tour will respond, and how the game’s future will be affected?
Let’s dive deeper.
LIV Golf, Thus Far
The PGA Tour has maintained respect and a cemented place in professional gold for over 50 years. Still, the arrival of LIV Golf has shaken the landscape (including the DP World Tour) while drawing a competitive nature from both rival sides.
We should expect the drama to continue, as LIV Golf will continue to draw more players with guaranteed contracts and huge earnings.
LIV began in June with its London event won by Charl Schwartzel. It then arrived on U.S. soil in Portland, where Branden Grace earned a victory. The most recent event at Bedminster (July 29-31) saw Henrik Stenson walk away with $4 million after winning the individual title.
Following three tournaments that have been played out over the last two months, with $75 million in purses won, seeing major champs Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, and Bubba Watson jump on board, LIV Golf is now entering a rest period.
Masters champion Schwartzel is also finding success with LIV Golf. Former Open champions Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen, three-time PGA Tour winner Jason Kokrak and Ryder Cup starts Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, and Martin Kaymer are notable names heading the new Tour.
The PGA Tour is entering its most competitive and essential time of the schedule as the FedEx Cup playoffs are underway with a three-week spree that concludes with the Tour Championship in Atalanta. Liv Golf will return to the Boston area in September, and this planning was purposely devised. LIV Golf never intended to compete or compromise the Tour’s major events, hoping players could compete in both.
Unfortunately – primarily for fans of the sport – this hasn’t gone to plan. LIV Golf players with PGA Tour memberships have been suspended. Players like Johnson, Garcia, and Graeme McDowell have resigned their membership as they’ll sit out the playoffs.
PGA Tour Has Received Some Loyalty
Ohio State’s Harold Varner III was among the first players to publicly reject LIV Golf. And loyalty such as Varner’s is something the PGA Tour will need to rely on.
Since issuing suspensions for players competing in the LIV League, the PGA Tour gives professionals an ultimatum. However, with a well-established reputation and countless big-named players staying put – no pun intended – I don’t believe the PGA is worried.
Collin Morikawa openly denied having talks with LIV, as US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick says he is committed to the PGA Tour and has no concerns about players leaving. Tommy Fleetwood was rumored with the LIV series when his wife attended the opening event, but he’s also ruled himself out.
The most popular and sought-after players that are widely gambled on at Caesars Ohio have already committed to the PGA and DP World Tours. Money is usually the motive, and finding sports betting profits on the PGA Tour with players like Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, and Tiger Woods will remain, as they have no interest in LIV Golf.
The PGA Tour commissioner has made offensive strides to combat the LIV League, including suspensions, a newly announced series of big-money events, and increased tournament purses.
These decisions, however, have the potential to end with consequences. The case of player suspensions could go to trial next year, and an injunction hearing in September or October could be possible.