who owns liv golf

The LIV Golf Series, a Saudi-backed business led by Greg Norman and LIV Golf Investments, has dominated the golfing world.

The Series’ details were revealed, immediately followed by the $25 million curtain-raiser at London’s Centurion Club in June, when South African Charl Schwartzel won the $4 million first prize. It became a South African double in Portland when Branden Grace took the spoils in the second edition. Henrik Stenson had a memorable debut by defeating Matthew Wolff by two shots at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.

Dustin Johnson triumphed in Boston whilst reigning Open champion Cameron Smith only required two starts before he claimed top honours in Chicago. In Bangkok and Jeddah, Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra and Brooks Kopeka triumphed.

By virtue of his accomplishments during the season, Dustin Johnson was declared Individual Champion and collected a $18m bonus for his efforts.

We take a deep look at what we know about the LIV Golf Series and how it has altered the golf world as we once knew it, with seven “regular” tournaments under our belt and the tale of the Team Championship in Miami shortly to be told.

What Is The LIV Golf Series?

In a nutshell, the LIV Golf Series consists of eight tournaments: seven regular events and a season-ending Team Championship at the LIV Golf Club.Trump National Doralin Miami. 

Each regular event consists of three rounds with no cut and begins with a shotgun start. There is also a team model in which no more than 48 people form 12 teams of four, with the teams being recruited each week.

The Series has tempted participants with massive $25 million payouts in each of the first seven events, and a $50 million purse in the final tournament.Team Championshipfinale. There is also a bonus pool for the best performers throughout.

A breakaway league is not a novel notion in golf, nor is Greg Norman. The former World No.1 put forward his own plans for a World Golf Tour in 1994, a lucrative, eight-field event that would showcase the game’s best players as independent contractors, unfettered from the PGA Tour.

Norman’s approach to ‘expanding the game’ never materialized, but there was always a drive to upset golf’s status quo. And so here we are, 28 years later with the game on the precipice of civil war and now an official league to rival the established ecosystem.

The Australian is confident in the future success of his product, describing the Series as “a carrot too hard to resist.” The Series has already required a massive financial commitment to get off the ground, and it will be completed in 2023.expand to a fully fledged Leaguefeatures 48 individuals and 12 established team franchises participating in a 14-tournament schedule – with a massive $405m total prize fund, up from $225m for last year’s eight-tournament Series.

Major winners Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, and Bryson DeChambeau have all decided to abandon the PGA Tour in favor of LIV Golf, with more likely to follow.

LIV Golf Series Schedule

The seventh hole at London's Centurion Club

The Centurion Club held the first LIV Golf Invitational Series competition

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The eight competitions take place in England, USA, Thailand and Saudi Arabia, and span from June to October.

  • Winner: Charles Schwartzel/Stinger GC, June 9-11, London
  • July 1-3: Portland – Winner: Branden Grace/4 Aces
  • Henrik Stenson/4 Aces, July 29-31: Bedminster
  • Dustin Johnson/4 Aces – September 2-4, Boston
  • Chicago, September 16-18 – Winner: Cameron Smith/4 Aces
  • October 7-9: Bangkok – Winner: Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra/Fireballs GC
  • Brooks Koepka/Smash GC – Jeddah, October 14-16
  • October 28-30: Miami – Trump National Doral – TBC

LIV Golf Series Prize Money

The first seven ‘regular’ events will each carry a total purse of $25m, comprised of $20m in individual prizes and $5m for the top three teams. The winner of each tournament will earn a $4 million check, with last place receiving $120,000.

The Series will also crown an ‘Individual Champion’ with a bonus pool of $30m for the top-three performers of the season – Dustin Johnson won the Individual Championship in the first season, earning a $18 million performance bonus.Series earnings in excess of $30m. 

The season-endingLIV Golf Team Championship Finalewill have a massive $50 million purse. The winning team will split $16 million four ways, with $10 million awarded to second place and $8 million to third.

The LIV Golf Series’ financial riches are nearly hard to match, as it consistently outperforms the PGA Tour’s flagship and most profitable tournament, the Players Championship.

By way of example, the first LIV Golf event at the Centurion Club, with its $25m purse, dwarfed the competing events on the PGA and DP World Tour. The RBC Canadian Open was worth $8.7 million, while the Scandinavian Mixed was worth $2 million. The plot stays consistent throughout.LIV Golf Series schedule.

Pablo Larrazabal, who has notched seven DP World Tour titles in his impressive career thus far, finished 13th in the inaugural event at Centurion Club and secured a cheque for $360,000. In comparison, he got $333,330 and $250,000 for winning the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain and the MyGolfLife Open earlier this year.

But it was Hennie du Plessis’ performance that maybe best demonstrated the financial wealth. The 25-year-old, who is without a victory on the DP World Tour, finished a single stroke behind winner Charl Schwartzel and pocked just shy of $2.2m alongside $750,000 in the team format – more than the winner of the Open Championship, PGA Championship and the Masters.

Speaking after the LIV Golf Boston event, Pat Perez said he had doubled his earnings in just three appearances when compared to 25 PGA Tour appearances. The American is a part of the 4 Aces franchise, which has won the previous three circuit team components.

LIV Golf Series Players

Bryson DeChambeau speaks to the press before the second LIV Golf Invitational Series event

Bryson DeChambeau addresses the press at the LIV Golf news conference.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

LIV Golf participants were shrouded in secrecy for a long time, with several allegations that players had signed non-disclosure agreements forbidding them from discussing the business.

Greg Norman hinted that 36 of the top-150 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, past World No.1 players, Major winners, and Ryder Cup heroes were either involved or will be included in the future, sparking a flood of conjecture about who had committed.

Trusted sources disclosed the names of several but the surprising addition before of the inaugural tournament was Dustin Johnson – who had supposedly been given $125m followingpledging his allegianceto the PGA Tour just a few months prior. 

Phil Mickelson, who returned from a self-imposed sabbatical for the first tournament, was among those who joined Johnson.anti-Saudi comments were made public,Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen, and Graeme McDowell are on the list, with Major winners Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Brooks Koepka expected to join later.

When it was reported that Henrik Stenson would be joining the enterprise, his name made headlines. The Swede, who was set to captain the European Ryder Cup in Rome in 2023, reportedly met with DP World Tour officials and informed them of his decision to join the breakaway circuit. In exchange, Stenson wasstripped of the captaincy.Stenson made his debut in the Bedminster tournament, pocketing a total $4.375 million for winning the solo format and coming second with theMajesticks. 

While each is important in its own right, the addition of Cameron Smith is likely the most significant. Not only is the Australian the Champion Golfer of the Year but he also holds the Players Championship – the PGA Tour’s flagship event – which is the most financially lucrative purse of the season and often dubbed “the fifth Major” because of its strength of field. To date, the then-World No.2 is the highest-ranked player to join the breakaway circuit.

Joaquin Niemann, the Genesis Invitational champion earlier this year, is of comparable stature. At just 23-years-old and 19th in the Official World Golf Ranking, the Chilean is the best-ranked player under the age of 25 to join the Series.

Below is a list of players who have played in one or more LIV Golf tournament in 2022:


Who Owns The LIV Golf Series And Why Is It Controversial?

Ron Cross, Atul Khosla and Greg Norman of LIV Golf at a press conference in London

(Image credit: Getty Images)

From an operational standpoint, the LIV Golf Series is led by LIV Golf Investments, which is led by Greg Norman. LIV Golf Investments is financially supported by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds. It is reported to be valued more than $620 billion, including Newcastle United Football Club following a consortium-led acquisition in 2021.

The head of the Public Investment Fund is Mohammed bin Salman, generally known as MBS. He is a Saudi Arabian politician who serves as the country’s crown prince, deputy prime minister, and defense minister. He is also the head of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and the Council of Political and Security Affairs.

Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan is the Governor of the PIF, acting directly under MBS. Al-Rumayyan is also the Chairman of Newcastle United Football Club and the Chairman of Saudi Aramco, the state-owned petroleum corporation. Majed Al Sorour acts as an Advisor to the PIF as well as CEO of Golf Saudi, Saudi Golf Federation and Director of Newcastle United Football Club.

Despite the Public Investment Fund’s financial support,Norman has insistedthat he “does not answer to Saudi Arabia” and that they (including MBS) are not “his bosses.” LIV Golf Investments, according to the former World No.1, is “independent” of the Public Investment Fund.

In addition to financial support for the LIV Golf Invitational Series, the Public Investment Fund has committed $300 million in a 10-year partnership with the Asian Tour and LIV Golf Investments.International Series. This will see the Saudi International, which was previously sanctioned by the DP World Tour until the threat of a breakaway tour emerged, formally recognised as an Asian Tour event.

The Public Investment Fund has extended its financial support, transforming the Series into a full-fledged League beginning in 2023, with 48 players and 12 established team franchises competing in an expanded 14-tournament schedule – and a massive $405m total prize purse, up from $225m for this year’s eight-tournament Series.

Much of the criticism surrounding the Series has derived from the origin of its funds, with various advocacy organizations accusing players of sportswashing human rights crimes inside the Kingdom.

The murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, has also received attention. America’s Central Intelligence Agency concluded that MBS ordered the killing of Khashoggi, adding tension to the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, including calls for the US to sever diplomatic ties with the Kingdom.

Greg Norman sparked outrage when he claimed that“we’ve all made mistakes”As a former President of the United States, he sought to deflect inquiries about Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations and the death of Jamal Khashoggi.Donald Trump, endorsedthe U. This led to further public tension given Saudi Arabia’s links with the September 11 attacks as 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the tragedy were Saudi nationals.

Lina al-Hathloul, a Saudi democracy activist, penned an open letter to the LPGA Tour urging they re-consider their arrangement with Saudi Arabia. The letter was sent during the Aramco Series, which is sponsored by the Kingdom’s state-owned petroleum firm, and shortly after LPGA Tour Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan was appointed.hinted that she would engageperhaps the contentious circuit may help promote the women’s game.

How Have The PGA Tour Responded To LIV Golf Series?

Jay Monahan speaks in a press conference before the 2022 Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The threat of a breakaway league putthe DP World and PGA Tour on guard(opens in new tab), with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan frequently warned any player who supported a competing league that they would risk suspension and potentially a lifelong ban.

In a memo sent to players in May, thePGA Tour officially denied its membersconflicting-event releases to play in the LIV Golf Series opener at the Centurion Club. The memonoted that giving permission would “significantly and unreasonably hurt the PGA Tour and Tour sponsors,” before concluding that “your participation in the tournament is not authorized under the Regulations.”

Norman, whoaccused the PGA Tour of bullying,has often said that PGA Tour players are independent contractors and that the Tour has no legal authority to refuse them participation to events.

Those that participated in the first tournament at Centurion Club did so without prior authorization from the PGA and/or DP World Tour, and were therefore sanctioned.

The PGA Tour suspended all participants and has committed to do so in the future, whilst the DP World Tour suspended three co-sanctioned tournaments and issued a £100,000 fine. Ian Poulter reacted with legal action against the DP World Tour and his punishment was “temporarily stayed”. The Englishman later participated in the Scottish Open, one of the events he was previously barred from.

The PGA Tour omitted all LIV Golf players from its new FedEx Cup points list, as to guarantee that “banned members do not adversely effect other players’ event eligibility, standing on the priority rankings or ability to participate in the FedEx Cup playoffs.”

Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau are among 11 LIV Golf players who have filed a antitrust lawsuitagainst the PGA Tour. That number has now fallen as a result of the withdrawals of Carlos Ortiz, Abraham Ancer, Pat Perez, and Jason Kokrak, among others. The motion says: “The Tour’s conduct serves no purpose other than to cause harm to players and foreclose the entry of the first meaningful competitive threat the Tour has faced in decades.”

Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, and Hudson Swafford also filed a temporary restraining order against the PGA Tour in order to participate in the next FedEx Cup playoffs.

ThePGA Tour responded“LIV is not a logical economic actor, competing fairly to create a golf circuit,” the company asserted via its counsel. It is willing to lose billions of dollars in order to utilize Plaintiffs [the 11 LIV Golfers who brought the complaint] and the sport of golf to’sportswash’ the Saudi government’s heinous record of human rights violations.

“If Plaintiffs are permitted to break their Tour contracts without consequence, the whole mutually advantageous structure of the Tour, an agreement that has advanced the sport and benefited the interests of players dating back to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, would collapse.

“Despite knowing full well that they would violate Tour Regulations and be banned as a result, Plaintiffs have joined rival golf league LIV Golf, which has given them tens of millions of dollars in guaranteed money funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to acquire their violations.”

Judge Freeman found there was “no irreparable harm” as “LIV contracts are based upon players’ calculation of what they were leaving behind” and therefore denied the restraining order. As a result, Gooch, Jones, and Swafford were denied participation into the Fed Cup playoffs.

LIV Golf joined the antitrust motion against the PGA Tour, in which it described the organisation as “an entrenched monopolist with a vice-grip on professional golf.” Judge Beth Labson Freeman has set the summary judgment date on July 23 of next year, with the trial beginning on January 8, 2024.

In addition to the antitrust complaint, former Masters winner Patrick Reed has filed a $750 million slander action against the Golf Channel and commentator,Brandel Chamblee.

The legal complaint was initiated in the US district court for the southern district of Texas in Reed’s home city of Houston. Within, the American alleges that he was the victim of “calculated, malicious, false and reckless attacks” that had a “direct effect on his livelihood”, adding that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, the Golf Channel and Chamblee “conspired” together.

Reed’s charges include “misreporting information with falsehood and/or reckless disregard of the truth” as well as “purposely omitting crucial critical material facts to deceive the public, and deliberately targeting [Reed] to damage his reputation, generate hatred, and a hostile work environment for him.”

The struggle between LIV Golf Investments and the PGA Tour is undoubtedly going to continue, particularly with the future of global ranking points, Major championships, and the Ryder Cup in jeopardy. The Presidents Cup is the first team tournament to face the strain, with LIV Golf defectors barred from competing.

As the gap between the LIV Golf Series and the existing eco-system looks to widen, the DP World Tour and PGA Tour joined into, and deepened, a partnership.“strategic alliance”with the the major emphasis on “improving and linking the ecosystem of men’s professional golf via a variety of areas, including worldwide scheduling, prize cash and playing opportunities for the respective memberships”.

It was also revealed that three events will be co-sanctioned, meaning they will count towards both the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai. The Barbasol Championship, the Barracuda Championship, and the Genesis Scottish Open are among them.

The Barbasol and Barracuda Championships were opened up to 75 DP World Tour members for the first time, while the Irish Open’s prize pool was virtually doubled to $6 million for its 2022 staging.

Does LIV Golf Get Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) Points?

As it stands, LIV Golf does not give Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points for its tournaments but not for a want of effort.

Before the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews, the Greg-Norman-backed enterprise made a formal proposal to the OWGR Board, which includes PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley.

On the surface, one of the predicted criticisms was that the LIV Golf format continues to conflict with key qualification standards. Among others, there are no 36-hole cuts and the average field size is smaller than the 75 necessary.

The Asian Tour supported the application, which is significant since all applications need a “nomination by an established full-member Tour.”

Norman was reported to be “getting irritated” with the “slow pace” since the application was filed, and he subsequently formed a strategic relationship with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Tour in the hope that it would help.“immediately qualify”for ranking points. That however, was denied by the OWGR board on the grounds of“insufficient notice”,“Only once the evaluation is completed will a decision on giving points to the MENA Tour’s new “Limited Field Tournaments” [the LIV Golf Invitational Series] be made,” he said.

That decision was met with dismay by MENA Tour Commissioner David Spencer, who reasoned LIV Golf should be granted the status, saying: “None of this communication pointed towards any technical reason for the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok to be treated any differently to any MENA Tour event, every one of which has received OWGR since we were accepted into the OWGR framework in 2016.”

Prior,50 LIV Golf players signed a letterSent to OWGR chairman Peter Dawson demanding a judgment in LIV Golf’s favour as Norman questioned the viability of the OWGR without the Saudi-backed business being able to give its players points.

OWGR recognition is one of many subjects surrounding LIV Golf that has divided opinion. Liv Golfers, according to Graeme McDowell, are“getting hurt the longer this game is played”Viktor Hovland, on the other hand, said that “you can’t simply make up new rules as you go.”

Which Players Won’t Be Playing In The LIV Golf Series?

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods pictured

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have both expressed their commitment to the PGA Tour.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite the large sums of money on offer, several players have said that they would stay on the PGA Tour.Tiger Woods“I’ve chosen for myself that I’m going to support the PGA Tour,” (opens in new tab) stated. That’s where my legacy is. I’ve been fortunate enough to have won 82 events on this Tour and 15 Major championships and been a part of the World Golf Championships, the start of them and the end of them. So I have an affinity to the PGA Tour”.

Four-time Major champion,Rory McIlroy(opens in new tab), also agreed, with the Northern Irishman stating that the league is “nothing more than a money grab”. His European equivalent,Jon Rahm(opens in a new tab) stated: “I’m not in it for the money. They throw numbers at you and that’s supposed to impress people. I’m in this game for the love of golf and the game, as much as to win a championship.”

Jordan Spieth, who is one of the most popular players after being the youngest player to win the Masters since Tiger Woods, stated he is “supportive of and happy on the PGA Tour.”

Collin Morikawa(Opens in a new window) confirmed his future is with the PGA Tour, whilePatrick Cantlay(Opens in a new window) added that the chance to pick up a huge appearance fee for playing in the Saudi International was “very tempting” but he ultimately “wasn’t swayed”.

World No.1 Scottie Scheffler is another that haspublicly distanced himselffrom the Series. The Masters champion said that playing in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series is “definitely not” something “we” want the PGA Tour members to do.

Recently crowned PGA Champion Justin Thomas hasreiterated his loyalty to the PGA Tourand has encouraged potential players to “go”. Thomas also drew on recent comments and actions from the Tour’s Commissioner: “I think Jay’s made it very clear from the start of what would happen or, you know, I think a lot of people are probably like, ‘I can’t believe you did this’ or, ‘Wow, you went through with it’. But, after all, this is what he predicted all along “said the 14-time PGA Tour champion.

In an interview with the Fire Pit Collective, Jack Nicklaus admitted that he rejected down opportunities outside of golf.“in excess of $100m”from the Saudis to do a job he described as “probably similar to the one Greg Norman is doing.” Nicklaus said: “I turned it down. Once orally and once in writing. I told, ‘Guys, I have to remain on the PGA Tour. ‘I helped launch the PGA Tour.'”

How Will The LIV Golf Series Work?

So, what comes next? Well, if it’s anything like the last few months, who knows?

What we do know is that the speculation is gone, and there is a Saudi-backed league in the works, one with long-term aspirations and lots of financial support.

The PGA Tour has responded with heavy sanctions and suspended those that have taken part. It has also threatened to suspend anybody who participates in the future, which will almost definitely be challenged in court.

The DP World Tour reacted less harshly, suspending the three tournaments it co-sanctions with the PGA Tour. A pecuniary penalty of £100,000 was also imposed. A court challenge temporarily favored the players, but a full hearing is scheduled for February 2023.

Between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf Investments, one party insists that it is lawful in denying releases as per its regulations, whilst the other insists it is not lawful as the players are independent contractors with the legal right to play where they wish. Both think they are correct and seem to have a legal foundation; yet, there can only be one ‘winner’.

The golfing world now awaits word on how the Series, and the ensuing punishments imposed on the players, will affect the Ryder Cup, Major titles, and Official World Golf Ranking recognition.

According to reports, the Major Championships will consider banning LIV Golf players, while the R&A, which controls the Open Championship, has verified this.“is not in their nature.” 

While the Ryder Cup is yet to make a formal announcement, US captain Zach Johnsondealt a blowto the LIV Golf players eager to take part. “In order to play on the Ryder Cup team whether you’re top 6 or a pick, you must garner Ryder Cup points through the PGA of America. You must be a PGA of America member to earn Ryder Cup points via the PGA of America. The way that we’re members of the PGA of America is via the PGA Tour. I’ll leave it to you to connect the dots from there.”

We are still very much at the beginning but with events now being held, and a small glimpse into the future of professional golf, we can begin to ask ourselves the question – does the LIV Golf Series compliment the current ecosystem that will ultimately satisfy the needs of both the player and spectator, or is this the beginning of an out-and-out rivalry with the intent to knock the PGA Tour off its perch? Time will tell.

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