What is LIV Golf?

What is LIV Golf?

LIV Golf is a startup golf league bankrolled by Saudi Arabia via its Public Investment Fund.

The name LIV is from the Roman numerals for 54, which is both the number considered a perfect score in golf (birdie on every hole) and the number of holes to be played in LIV tournaments.

Greg Norman is the founding CEO and League Commissioner.

In March 2022, LIV Golf announced the creation of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, an eight tournament season with fields of 48 players playing 54 holes. Further, the tournaments are no-cut, with shotgun starts.

In each event, players compete both as individuals and as teams. As is common in professional golf, the player with the lowest stroke total at the end of the tournament is the individual champion.

For the team portion, the best two scores for each team count for the team total in the first two rounds. In the third round, the three best scores count. Low score is the team winner.

At the end of seven events, an individual season champion will be named based on season point accumulation.

The eighth LIV tournament will be the Team Championship with a seeded, four day, four round, match play knockout.

The first seven tournaments will have a purse of $25 million, with all players receiving a payday. Individual prizes will account for $20 million of the purse; $5 million will be distributed to the top 3 teams.

The top three individual players for the season will be part of an additional $30 million payout. The Team Championship finale will have a $50 million purse.

It also should be noted that — as of this writing — LIV Golf does not seem to have a television contract.

The current LIV Golf schedule follows

LIV Invitational LocationDateCourse
LondonJune 8 – 11, 2022Centurion Club
PortlandJune 30 – July 2, 2022Pumpkin Ridge
BedminsterJuly 29 – 31, 2022Trump National Bedminster
BostonSept. 2 – 4, 2022The Oaks at the International
ChicagoSept. 16 – 18, 2022Rich Harvest Farms
BangkokOct. 7 – 9, 2022Stonehill
Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaOct. 14 – 16, 2022Royal Greens G&CC
Miami (Team Championship)Oct. 27 – 30Trump National Doral

The league has been controversial for a number of reasons.

First, its primary source of funding is from Saudi Arabia, a country that commits egregious and unapologetic human rights violations. Of note, the Saudi government convicts, tortures and executes people for homosexuality, for exercising free speech, for protests, for apostasy and for witchcraft (seriously? In the 21st century?) among other things. Torture includes amputations and flogging with hundreds of lashes. Executions are done by beheading and crucifixion. Saudi agents murdered and dismembered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. Women are denied basic human rights.

The suspicion is that — along with other sporting events bankrolled by Saudi Arabia — the kingdom is attempting to buy legitimacy and good will that will distract from their behavior.

To be fair, the PGA TOUR has held tournaments in China over the years. China’s human rights record is hardly better than Saudi Arabia. Further, few seem to have qualms about using all of the products manufactured in that repressive and genocidal regime.

The other portion of the controversy is that the PGA TOUR and European Tour (DP World Tour) have taken a strong stance against the startup, apparently viewing it as an existential threat.

PGA TOUR commissioner Jay Monahan has said that any tour member who competes in the league faces a suspension from the PGA TOUR that could include a lifetime ban.

The PGA TOUR and European Tour formed a “strategic” alliance ostensibly in response to the creation of LIV. Indeed, Monahan was given a seat on the board of the PGA European Tour.

LIV TournamentDatePGA TOUR TournamentEuropean Tour Tournament
LondonJune 8 – 11, 2022RBC Canadian OpenVolvo Car Scandinavian Mixed
PortlandJune 30 – July 2, 2022John Deere ClassicIrish Open
BedminsterJuly 29 – 31, 2022Rocket Mortgage ClassicHero Open
BostonSept. 2 – 4, 2022TBD; In 2021 there was no tournamentMade In Himmerland
ChicagoSept. 16 – 18, 2022TBD; In 2021 it was the Fortinet ChampionshipItalian Open
BangkokOct. 7 – 9, 2022TBD; in 2021 it was the Shriner’s Children’s OpenOpen de Espania
Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaOct. 14 – 16, 2022TBD; in 2021, it was the CJ CupAndalucia Masters
Miami (Team Championship)Oct. 27 – 30TBD; in 2021 it was the Bermuda ChampionshipWGC-HSBC Champions

The threats from the PGA and European Tours seem to have had an effect. The inaugural field is not exactly star studded.

The biggest name in the field is Dustin Johnson. Also signing up are Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Grame McDowell, and Martin Kaymer, all of whom are Major Championship Winners.

UPDATE: Phil Mickelson has joined the field for LIV’s London event.

Also on the list are recognizable names such as Lee Westwood, Kevin Na, Ian Poulter, Hudson Swafford and Peter Uihlein.

The complete list of LIV Players follows:

Last NameFirst NameCountryOWGRCareer Highlights
BekkerOliverRSA96Seven career wins
BlandRichardENG67Two career wins
BuranatanyaratItthipatTHA Three-time winner on the Asian Development Tour
CanterLaurieENG119One professional win
Chantananuwat (Am)Ratchanon “TK”THAI Youngest to win an OWGR event
Du PlessisHennieRSA133Three professional wins
FisherOliverENG One professional win; 16 top-10 finishes
GarciaSergioESP57Major champion; 36 career victories
GoochTalorUSA35Two professional wins
GraceBrandenRSA12314 professional wins
HardingJustinRSA10911 professional wins
HorsfieldSamENG74Three professional wins
JohnsonDustinUSA15Former World No. 1; Two-time major champion
JonesMattAUS69Four professional wins
KaewkanjanaSadomTHA118Former Asian Tour Order of Merit leader (2 wins)
KaymerMartinGER Former World No. 1; Two-time major champion
KhongwatmaiPhacharaTHA136Youngest player to win pro event (2013)
KimSihwanUSA139Two Asian Tour wins
KinoshitaRyosukeJPN89Three professional wins
KoepkaChaseUSA Six professional top-10 finishes
KozumaJinichiroJPN106Two professional wins
LarrazabalPabloESP70Eight professional wins
MadappaVirajIND One Asian Tour win
McDowellGraemeNIR Major champion; 16 victories
MickelsonPhilUSA72Six-time major champion; World Golf Hall of Fame
MorganJediahAUS 2021-22 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit
NaKevinUSA34Nine professional victories
NorrisShaunRSA6812 professional wins
OgletreeAndyUSA 2019 U.S. Amateur Champion
OosthuizenLouisRSA21Major champion; 20 professional wins
OrmsbyWadeAUS Four professional wins
OtaeguiAdrianESP Three professional wins
PettitTurkUSA 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Champion
Piot (Am)JamesUSA 2021 U.S. Amateur Champion
PoulterIanENG9219 professional victories; former World No. 5
Puig (Am)DavidESP Seven top-10 finishes in 2021 (NCAA)
RitchieJCRSA 10 professional victories
SchwartzelCharlRSA126Major champion; 23 professional wins
SmythTravisAUS International Series Order of Merit Qualifier
SnymanIanRSA International Series Order of Merit Qualifier
SwaffordHudsonUSA95Four professional wins; 12 top 10 finishes
TaniharaHidetoJPN 16 professional victories
UihleinPeterUSA Former No. 1 Amateur; Four professional wins
VincentScottZIM91Four professional wins
WestwoodLeeENG78Former World No. 1; 44 professional wins
WiesbergerBerndAUT9413 professional victories
WindredBlakeAUS Earned first professional win in 2021
YuanKevinAUS International Series England Qualifier

It remains to be seen whether the PGA TOUR has the stomach to ban Dustin Johnson. Still, it would send a strong signal and perhaps deter others.

The first event is opposite the RBC Canadian Open. Both Johnson and McDowell are sponsored by RBC. That likely isn’t going down well in the corporate boardrooms.

Potential loss of sponsors is likely offset by large appearance fees. Golf reporter Ryan French from the Firepit Collective says that one of the amateurs (James Piot?) in the field received $6 million up front and $250k per start.

Imagine what they’re paying Dustin Johnson.

LIV Golf is not the first challenge to the existing golf tours. Nor is it even the first time Greg Norman has tried to challenge the existing golf tours.

In 1984, Norman tried to launch an alternate World Tour. That one didn’t get out of the gate, but did lead to the creation of the WGC tournament series.

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1 thought on “What is LIV Golf?”

  1. Hmmmmm, let’s play golf in a ridiculously Liberal state and city that would be burnt to ground for “Social Justice”. Hmmmm, lets choose Portland Oregon.

    Very confusing????????

    “The Saudi government convicts, tortures and executes people for homosexuality, for exercising free speech, for protests, for apostasy and for witchcraft (seriously? In the 21st century?) among other things. Torture includes amputations and flogging with hundreds of lashes. Executions are done by beheading and crucifixion. Saudi agents murdered and dismembered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. Women are denied basic human rights”.

    Very Confusing again????

    Who will actually want to buy tickets for this new league in this area of the country?????? Oh yes, rich, elite people!!!!

    Hmmmmm, Let’s play next tournament at an Absolutely “Right Wing”, “elitist”, “Pearly white” club
    named after…………… well, let’s just end it there. Hmmmm, lets choose Trump National in good ole Bedminster, NJ.
    An area I work in, who in my opinion has the most wealth than any non-vacation area in the USA.

    Who would actually buy tickets for this event? I bet most of them are $200,000++++ a year member of the golf club and their buddies.

    I hope that all sides of this political nightmare we live in team up and protest the absolute HYPOCRACY of this entire league.

    Reply

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