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In 2022, the golf world became a bit more chaotic as compared to what is has been throughout the years. Why? Because a new golf league, with a format that has never been seen before known as LIV Golf, was introduced. LIV was backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and many former PGA Tour pros decided to switch to it creating havoc in the golf fraternity.
Though the league became the center of a lot of backlashes, it has stayed on and has shown tremendous growth. As LIV Golf continues to grow and thrive, let's discover some remarkable factors about the league.
A Brief History of LIV Golf and its Origin
Although the Saudi League was founded in 2021, its early framework came into limelight in 2019. The earlier suggested name for LIV golf was Premier Golf League. The inaugural season of the rebel league was played in 2022. The name is inspired by the Roman numeral number 54.
LIV Golf is financed by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. It is said that the golf league is part of the efforts of the Saudi monarchy, which has been criticized for its corruption and human rights issues. And that was one of the main reasons why it always faced heavy backlash from golfers, critics and fans alike.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan acts as the governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and Greg Norman, the former PGA Tour legend, is the commander of the league and was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer.
A peek into the format of LIV Golf
The first season of the LIV Golf Invitational Series in 2022 featured eight tournaments wherein the unconventional format of 54-hole no-cut stroke play was adapted. One final Team Championship was also organized at the end of the season signifying the prominent team element of the Saudi league.
For 2023, the format of the league changed a bit, and it released a schedule with a 14-event schedule and 48 contracted players. The 14 events are organized throughout the year to keep fans and golfers engaged. The Saudi League does not organize any events on the same weekend as major tournaments.
The team element has been a crucial standpoint of LIV. There are a total of 12 teams with 4 players in each team.? Along with individual golfers, the teams also go head-to-head with each other at every tournament. At the end of the weekend, an individual LIV star emerges victorious, and one team out of the 12 teams also wins and takes home the part of $5 million set aside for team prize money.
The tournaments are held at some of the best golf courses in the world. During its inaugural season, all the events were played on American golf courses, but in 2022, with the vision to take the league to the international level, the tournaments are organized at foreign locations such as Mexico, Australia, Spain and Singapore.
The growth spurt of the Saudi League
In its two years of existence, LIV Golf has seen tremendous growth. When the league was inaugurated in 2022, everyone was skeptical about it, and everyone bashed the CEO, founders, and players alike. People were not happy with the league?s founders and called out every golfer who became part of the league.
Despite all the hardships, LIV Golf persevered through and added many feathers to its hat. LIV Golf was able to sign a multi-year deal with Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore; it maintained a cordial relationship with the United States? former President, Donald Trump; and so on. As a cherry on top, Brooks Koepka became the first LIV golfer to win a major championship in 2023.
The most recent and groundbreaking success was its merger with its former rival, the PGA Tour. Under this merger, the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and LIV Golf will form another golf entity altogether.
The most successful golfers in LIV Golf
Although the league has many legendary golfers on the roaster, not all of them are turning out to be very successful. One of the only LIV golfers to win two back-to-back individual titles is Talor Gooch. His first victory came in Australia and then he went ahead and won in the league's next event in Singapore as well.
Brooks Koepka is another one of the most successful and popular LIV golfers. In 2023, he became the first LIV player to win a prestigious major title, the PGA Championship. His victory showed to everyone that LIV players are just as talented as golfers of the other tours and his victory was like a stepping stone into the league's even more successful years ahead.
There are plenty of notable golfers on LIV Golf, such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, and so on! All of these players have been playing a significant role in making the league huge as it is today.
How is LIV Golf different from the PGA Tour?
LIV Golf and the PGA Tour are very different from each other. Let us take a look at the difference between the two.
|Basis||LIV Golf||PGA Tour|
|Number of holes||The LIV tournaments are played on 54 holes, and they are three-day tournaments.||The PGA Tour follows the traditional 72-hole style of events that goes on for four days.|
|No Cut||LIV events don?t have a cut. All the golfers who play in a LIV event play all three rounds.||Regular PGA events have a cut after 36 holes, and the top 65 players on the leaderboard make the cut.|
|Limited fields||LIV Golf events feature a field of just 48 players.||PGA Tour events will feature a field of 132, 144, or 156 players.|
|Shotgun Starts||LIV Golf events tee off using a shotgun start.|
All the golfers who are competing start at the same time at different holes on the course.
|The PGA Tour does not follow the shotgun rule, and it takes from relatively longer time to finish a single round.|
On the contrary, the golfers on the PGA Tour tee off from the 1st or 10th hole for the first two rounds.
|Payouts||LIV Golf offers humongous payouts to its players. LIV events carry a purse of $25 million, out of which $20 million is for individual competition.|
Even the last player on the leaderboard receives a part of the purse.
|The payout for the PGA Tour players is significantly less. The designated events offer a purse of $20 million.|
Only the top 65 players who make the cut receive a payout in the PGA Tour events.
|Team element||LIV golf has a team format in its play. It has 12 teams with four players each. The prize money of $5 million is set aside for the winning team and the runner-up team in every tournament.||The PGA Tour has no team element in its regular events.|
But it does have two teams playing events: the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup.
|Participation||LIV Golf features 48 players who have signed up.||Competing in the Feeder tours helps the golfers to move up the ranks and earn the status on PGA Tour.|
|Number of events||For 2023, LIV Golf has planned to host 14 events.||The PGA Tour has more events than LIV Golf.|
|World Ranking Points||LIV Golf events currently carry no World Ranking points and as a result, the LIV golfers are often at the bottom of the OWGR leaderboard.||PGA Tour events offer Official World Golf Ranking points to its players.|
LIV Golf and world ranking points
LIV Golf does not meet the criteria to be eligible for the world ranking points, and this is the reason why the ranks of LIV golfers have been plummeting in the OWGR leaderboard ever since they joined the league. Like PGA Tour pros, LIV golfers do not get points on the OWGR leaderboard for every tournament they play, except for major tournaments.
In July 2022, LIV Golf officially applied to be included in the Official World Golf Ranking. the approval takes anywhere from 1.5 - 2 years to get approval. As a result, the Saudi-funded league is still waiting for its pending approval for becoming a recognized league as per the world ranking system.
The international expansion of the Saudi-funded league
In 2022, the LIV Golf tournaments were limited to all of America, but for its second season, in 2023, the Saudi League had expansion plans. While revealing its 2023 schedule, Norman revealed that the league has plans to expand its footprint across North America, Latin America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Europe. LIV Golf will also expect players to compete in "numerous" International Series events on the Asian Tour, where LIV and the sponsors have invested a huge amount of $300 million.
Other than the USA, the countries that have hosted the LIV Golf events are Singapore, Australia, and Mexico. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the UK have yet to host LIV events in 2023 under the international expansion scheme.
LIV Golf is on its path to success and has a lot of growth potential in the future, now that it has merged with the PGA Tour. In the end, it will be the game of golf that will be thrive and evolve.