There might be a new competitor poised to challenge the PGA Tour as the preeminent golf organization.
LIV Golf, founded by PGA legend Greg Norman and funded by Saudi Arabia, is hosting its first competition in June. The event, the LIV Golf Invitational, is expected to draw a great many participants — some reports indicate that 170 golfers have submitted entries to compete.
The competition has drawn significant backlash, with many labeling it as sports-washing; a way for the Saudi Arabia government to take attention away from allegations of human rights violations by throwing money and energy into sport. The PGA Tour, meanwhile, has made itself clear on the topic of the topic; Tour members who wish to play in the LIV Golf Tournament may face punishment, including fines, suspensions and bans.
How is the PGA responding to the LIV Golf Invitational?
The PGA Tour released a memo to its members denying authorization for June’s tournament. The move came as a surprise to many; the Tour was expected to authorize players to allow them to play in LIV Golf’s first tournament before denying authorization at a later date when LIV Golf announced plans to hold events in North America.
Tour members can still take part in LIV’s tournament. However, players who choose to spurn the Tour’s decision in favor of participating in the LIV Golf Invitational open themselves up to potential discipline, including fines, suspensions and bans.
The PGA Tour allows players up to three conflicting-event releases, with the caveat that the PGA can deny releases if “such a release would cause [the Tour] to be in violation of a contractual commitment to a tournament sponsor, or would otherwise significantly and unreasonably harm [the Tour] and such sponsors.”
LIV Golf’s response to the PGA’s memo
Greg Norman, the CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, released a statement following the PGA’s decision, writing, “Sadly, the PGA Tour seems intent on denying professional golfers their right to play golf, unless it’s exclusively in a PGA Tour tournament.”
The Tour’s action is anti-golfer, anti-fan, and anti-competitive. But no matter what obstacles the PGA Tour puts in our way, we will not be stopped. We will continue to give players options that promote the great game of golf globally.
Norman said that six of the top-50, 19 of the top-100 and 36 of the top-150 players in the world had registered to play in the first event.
Why would the PGA deny releases to play in LIV Golf tournaments?
Some believe the sticking point for the PGA is LIV’s involvement in North America. The second LIV event is set for July 1-3 in Oregon. Per PGA Tour guidelines, players cannot be granted releases for other events played in North America. While the first event is in Europe, the PGA Tour may be looking at the LIV Tour as all-encompassing. Norman believes “the Tour is intent on perpetuating its illegal monopoly of what should be a free and open market.”
Despite the Tour’s memo, some members were fairly ambivalent on the prospect of a new golf tourney. Justin Thomas expressed as much at the AT&T Byron Nelson on Wednesday.
“It’s like, if you want to go, go,” Thomas said. “There’s been plenty of guys that have been advocates of it and have talked about it all the time, and there’s been guys behind the scenes that are saying, I’m going, I’m doing this. And my whole thing is: Just go then. Stop being back and forth. Everybody’s entitled to do what they want.”
What is the LIV Golf Invitational Series?
Greg Norman’s brainchild, the LIV Golf Invitational Series is a Saudi Arabian-funded golf league that’s aiming to compete with the PGA Tour while also attempting to lure some of the Tour’s top talents.
On Tuesday, Norman announced a partnership between the golf series and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF). PIF famously purchased English soccer team Newcastle United for £300 million last year amid allegations of sports-washing. Per Norman, the investment will help LIV Golf launch a 14-event tournament in 2024 and 2025.
As of now, though, the tournament consists of eight events, five of which will take place in the U.S.
Who is playing in the LIV Golf Invitational?
To date, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are among those who have asked the PGA Tour for a release to participate in the LIV Golf Invitational, scheduled to take place in London from June 9-11.
The LIV Golf-sponsored tournament takes place at the same time as the Tour’s RBC Canadian Open, one of golf’s oldest national opens.
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman told reporters that 36 of the top 150 players in the world had registered to play in June’s event, including six top-50 players. However, important to consider is that none of the world’s top-10 ranked players has expressed an interest in participating in Norman’s startup.
The tournament reportedly received some 170 entries, including a handful of amateur players who have negotiated NIL deals with the tournament to earn a paycheck.
The 54-hole event will have no cut and will employ a shotgun start during its first two rounds.
When is the LIV Golf Invitational?
Date: June 9-11
Where: London, England
The tournament is slated to begin on June 9-11 and will be held at Centurion Golf Club in Hempstead, England, just outside London. Opened in 2013, the club has one of the most picturesque courses in England.
The LIV Golf Invitational is scheduled to conflict with the Tour’s RBC Canadian Open, one of the oldest national opens in golf.
How much is the LIV Golf Invitational purse?
The purse is expected to be sizable, according to various reports. Each of the first seven events, including June’s LIV Golf Invitational, will have purses of $25 million. $4 million will be doled out to the winner of each tournament, while approximately $120,000 will be left for the participant who finishes in last place.
Players can earn more money, though; some players are expected to receive appearance fees. Additionally, the tournament’s top teams will have a chance to receive $5 million. The final team event of the season will have a $50 million purse.