Saudi-backed LIV Golf League: Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood top list of 100 best golfers to play in London

Professional golf is at a crossroads, and not everyone knows it. Rival golf leagues are popping up on every corner like McDonald’s, golfers are rumored to be taking their talents to greener pastures, in terms of money, and it’s hard for the casual golfer to keep track of exactly what’s going on.

The PGA Tour and the DP World Tour (formerly known as the European Tour) are still served by the best players in the world, all independent contractors, but now those players have options in the form of LIV Golf and, technically, the Premier. Golf League.

The volume surrounding LIV Golf has increased since the Genesis Invitational when Phil Mickelson’s controversial comments about the regime in Saudi Arabia, which is funding the league, were made public. The six-time Grand Slam champion has been in trouble for the better part of three months over his integral role in the Saudi-backed golf series. In late April, Mickelson’s agent, Steve Loy, confirmed Lefty’s entry to LIV Golf’s first event.

Slowly but surely, other players are starting to follow in Mickelson’s footsteps. There have been official announcements made by Robert Garrigus, Lee Westwood, and Richard Bland along with unofficial claims made by the likes of Sergio Garcia, Jason Kokrak, and Adam Scott. Kevin Na, Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter and former World No. 1 Martin Kaymer have been connected to LIV Golf through various reports.

On Tuesday, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman said sky sports that 19 of the world’s top 100 players, six of whom are in the top 50, have committed to play in the inaugural event next month in London. While the names have yet to be officially released, LIV Golf plans to release them to the public next week during the PGA Championship.

What is LIV Golf?

Currently run by Norman, LIV Golf is hosting a series of eight tournaments starting this summer with some truly outrageous purses ($20 million in individual prize money, plus a $5 million team payout). These payouts are funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which Norman says has just kicked in an additional $2 billion in funding, and this series of eight events is believed to be the precursor to a full year-long league. The goal is to expand to 10 tournaments in 2023 and 14 tournaments in the following two years. The whole thing is already a bit messy, especially with distribution is not going perfectly and ticket prices absolutely skyrocketed.

Whose I might play, and when?

Some names are mentioned above, but who else is eligible? The PGA Tour allows players to play up to three “releases” per season on various world tours. The Saudi International in February is an example of an event for which announcements are given as it was part of the Asian tour. A kind of quid pro quo was agreed with the PGA Tour for those who chose to participate. Players who chose to play had to agree to play in a future AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am on the PGA Tour since the event was held the same week.

There are eight LIV Golf events in total in 2022, and the PGA Tour is not expected to award pitches to all of them (the DP World Tour could take a different stance). Additionally, the PGA Tour does not grant exemptions to tournaments from other leagues that are played on North American soil when they coincide with PGA Tour weeks, which could be true for up to five of LIV Golf’s eight tournaments. This means that a battle between the leagues might not take place on a golf course but in court.

In addition, Norman will invite several top fans to join the 48-player fields.

The deadline for players to apply for the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event in London was April 25 and the PGA Tour’s decision will be made on May 10. Reportedly, there were a total of 170 tickets to play. There will be a lot of talk about those who are granted releases for the London event June 9-11, but the PGA Tour is likely to release many players for that event.

The biggest point of contention concerns the second LIV Golf event in Portland from July 1-3. The final three rounds of the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic are scheduled for the same dates, and who’s not there may have a bigger story than who’s in contention.

List of LIV Golf participants*

*not official

Dates: June 9-11
Location: Centurion Club – London, England

Phil Michaelson

Lee Westwood

Martin Kaymer

sergio garcia

Roberto Garrigus

ricardo bland

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