From PGA Tour Loyalists to LIV Golf Rebels – a Look at Pro-Golfers With F1 Ties, as Netflix Cup Scripts History

Published 11/14/2023, 2:25 PM EST

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One of the biggest rivalries the golf world has seen in recent times was the PGA Tour versus LIV Golf battle. The PGA Tour has been organizing golf events in North America for over 100 years. Suddenly, Saudi-backed LIV Golf stepped in and started poaching players for its own events. Some golfers stayed true to the PGA Tour, while others jumped ship. This was the story of how the golf community became divided. But then, all of a sudden, the two organizations announced a merger. The story of The Netflix Cup is something similar. Although it doesn’t involve any tussles, it’s about an unexpected yet welcome merger.

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Well, The Netflix Cup is more a crossover than a merger. As part of Netflix’s first-ever live sports event, four PGA Tour golfers and four Formula 1 drivers will face off against each other in pairs. Teeing off on November 14, Netflix drew inspiration for the event from its highly successful golf and F1 shows—Full Swing and Drive To Survive. Although this—an F1 and golf crossover—may seem like a first, participants of the two sports are no strangers to the other. 

The Netflix Cup isn’t the first F1 & golf crossover

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F1 drivers may be speed-seeking, adrenaline junkies when they’re on track, but once they’re off it, a lot of them turn to golf. And when professional golfers aren’t on the greens, many of them chase the adrenaline rush of watching F1. Arguably the most popular golfer in the F1 daddock is LPGA player Lily Muni, Williams driver (and The Netflix Cup competitor) Alexander Albon’s girlfriend. Guess how they got to know each other? Through Drive To Survive.

Talking about Drive To Survive, it’s based on drama. And what was one of the most dramatic things to have happened in F1 in recent history? The 2021 Abu Dhabi GP—the culmination of a season-long championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. It was controversial, and it was Netflix gold. Putting the Netflix part aside, a lot of professional golfers reacted to the happenings of that night on Twitter (now X). PGA Tour golfer Matt Fitzpatrick wrote, “That’s absurd, I do not understand how that is fair?!” LIV Golf-er Harold Varner III asked, “If Max and Lewis switched cars would the season go differently?” And Retired PGA Tour player Trevor Immelman exclaimed, “What a finish…..how good is the next season of ‘Drive to Survive’ gonna be🔥”

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Drive To Survive was one of the initiatives Liberty Media took to help F1 grow, especially in the US. Following the US boom, the country now hosts three races annually. One of them is the Miami GP, the site for another one of many golf and F1 crossovers. In 2022, at the inaugural Miami GP, two-time Major champion Bubba Watson and LIV Golf-er (and F1 superfan) Ian Poulter made their way to the Hard Rock Stadium. Watson got to experience a hot lap in a McLaren supercar, and Poulter spent time in the McLaren garage, cheering on his buddy, Lando Norris.

Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris’ “Dating Show” Styled Promo for ‘The Neftlix Cup’ Wins Fans’ Hearts

While Poulter may not have enjoyed watching Norris DNF, he sure would’ve enjoyed seeing his other buddy, Carlos Sainz, on the podium. As for Watson, the American thoroughly enjoyed his hot lap, saying, “That was awesome! We passed a guy and I thought the car was going to flip a couple of times. It was unbelievable!” All these golfers made temporary appearances in the F1 scene, but one professional who looks here to stay in F1 is Rory McIlroy.

Rory McIlroy’s French connection to F1

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Rory McIlroy, as a PGA Tour and European Tour golfer, has already created waves in the golf scene. Now, he’s doing the same in F1. Earlier this year, investment firm Otro Capital created a syndicate including Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney, and Michael B. Jordan. They acquired a 24% stake in French team, Alpine F1, investing a whopping $213 million in June. 

 

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Just last month, Rory McIlroy joined the fray of investors in the team. Along with other sporting A-listers like Patrick Mahomes, Alexander Zverev, Juan Mata, and Anthony Joshua, they joined Otro Capital’s consortium. Together, they invested another $200 million in the team, all to help it reach its goal to become a championship-winning team.

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WATCH THIS STORY | Ryan Reynolds & Rob McElhenney Invested $0 to Acquire 24% Stake in Alpine F1 as Wrexham Masterplan Continues to Pay Dividends

Which of these F1 connections surprised you the most? And are you excited about the first edition of The Netflix Cup?

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

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One take at a time

Aditi is a senior F1 writer at EssentiallySports. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar

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