London (AFP) – The world of golf, visibly regulated over decades, has faltered. The controversial new tour, the LIV Golf Invitational Series, aims to provide fierce competition to established tours in North America and Europe.
The tour, which is funded by Saudi Arabia, kicks off Thursday in London and is causing headaches for those in charge of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour). It’s about power, prestige, loyalty, and a lot of money.
Saudi Arabia is betting on the importance of sports
The new golf chain has come under fire for the millions invested by the country on the Persian Gulf. The background is that the state, which has been criticized for human rights violations, is trying to improve its reputation through lucrative sporting events. The money comes from the Public Investment Fund, which is chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Among other things, PIF owns an 80 per cent majority stake in Premier League club Newcastle United. The lucrative Formula 1 is already making its rounds in the desert country. Now the game of golf is supposed to help polish the image of Saudi Arabia.
According to rumors, stars from the USA and Europe were forced to participate in the new tour with sums of up to three million figures. Many top players such as star Tiger Woods or Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy immediately rejected the lucrative offer and clearly identified themselves with their old employers. “Woods turned down a deal that was incredibly high. We’re talking about a nine-figure high here,” LIV general manager Greg Norman told The Washington Post. The Australian Norman – nicknamed “The Jaw” – was one of the best golfers in the world. the world in the eighties and nineties.
Dustin Johnson “The Live Tour Character”
However, others were made weak by Norman’s performances: including world number one Dustin Johnson from the United States. The son-in-law of Canadian ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky is the LIV Tour President. Johnson announced that he has resigned from the PGA Tour. The 37-year-old can no longer compete in the Ryder Cup, the traditional continental comparison of the best golfers from America and Europe.
Some of the older and well-deserved champions of the Ryder Cup from Europe also take off at the first LIV event at the Centurion Club in North London: England’s Lee Westwood (49), Ian Poulter (46) and Sergio Garcia (42) of Spain and Germany best golfer Martin Kaymer (37). ). “It’s a great way to play a different kind of golf tournament. The new format is exciting,” the two-time main winner said in an interview with Sky TV. Kaymer currently only has full eligibility to play on the DP World Tour. “I would be lying if I said money is not a motive. It is very human.”
Kaymer: ‘Money was a motivator’
At the start of the week, Phil Mickelson, another prominent American golfer, confirmed his commitment to the 48-player squad in London. The PGA and DP World Tour have previously threatened to impose penalties on participants in the LIV Series. How these sanctions might turn out is still open. The organizer of the US Open, which will take place next week, announced Tuesday that participants in the LIV Tour can also participate in the major tournament in Brooklyn/Massachusetts.
LIV Tour also wants to score points with players and fans in a different format. Seven of the eight tournaments will be played over three days instead of four. There is no cut-off and all players start around the same time to make rounds shorter and more attractive to viewers. The final event at the end of October in Miami, on a golf course owned by former US President Donald Trump, is then a four-day all-team tournament.
In the first seven events, there will be a team rating as well as an individual rating. The London Singles Competition is valued at $20 million – the winner will receive $4 million, and the most recent $120,000. For comparison: Scottie Scheffler received a prize money of $2.7 million for his victory at the Legendary Masters in April.