Inside the LIV Golf Series Big Names and Big Money. Who are they?

The LIV Golf series is already creating headlines despite the fact that it is just one day old. The new golf tour kicked off on Thursday in London, with fans flocking to the Centurion Club to watch some of the sport’s biggest names compete in the inaugural event just north of the capital.

The series includes eight events around the world. The team-based competition, led by former world No. 1 Greg Norman, runs from June to October with the goal of holistically improving the health of professional golf worldwide to help unlock the sport’s (sic) untapped potential. It is sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and the person named as having approved the operation that resulted in the 2018 death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a US intelligence report. Bin Salman has denied any role in the murder of Khashoggi.

The PIF has promised to offer a total of $250 million in prize money. Each of the first seven tournaments will have a $25 million prize pool, with $20 million going to individual players and the remaining $5 million going to the top three teams at the end of each week.

The 12 teams, as well as their captains, were announced before the first tournament in London. Unlike most golf tournaments, London’s event spans three days rather than four, with the 48-man field beginning with a shotgun start – all at the same time – with the goal of creating a more compelling, action-packed event. In a typical stroke play system, the player with the lowest score wins.

The format switches to a four-round, match-play knockout tournament for the final event, a team championship. The massive prize money has enticed golfers of various ages, origins, and levels of accomplishment to sign up for the first event in London. The LIV Golf series has not been without controversy. Given the country’s human rights record, the source of the money, Saudi Arabia’s PIF, has prompted questions and criticism directed at organizers and players. Human rights organizations have often condemned the country.

Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, and Lee Westwood are among the players barred from competing on the PGA Tour as a result of their participation in the contentious Saudi-funded LIV International Golf Series. Lif Golf has termed the suspension “vindictive.”

What the series will mean for the future of the game is unclear, as is where players will choose to ply their trade.

(Photo Credit s_bukley )

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