The controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series has attracted some of the biggest names in the sport, and plenty of headlines over the past few months. But what is this new tour, who’s involved, and why has it sparked such debate? Read on for a complete guide to the competition.
What Is The LIV Golf Invitational Series?
The LIV Golf Invitational Series is a Saudi-backed tour comprising eight tournaments. Its name stems from the Roman numeral for 54 as this is the number of holes to be played at each event. The tour is fronted by former World No.1, Greg Norman.
Here's how it works:
- 48 golfers compete as individuals and, simultaneously, in 12 teams of four
- Each tournament consists of three rounds
- There are no cuts
- Shotgun starts mean groups tee off simultaneously
- The individual event is decided by stroke play — the player with the lowest score over three rounds wins
- After seven events, the golfer with the most ranking points is named the Individual Champion
- In the team event, the two best stroke play scores from the opening two rounds count for each team. In the final round, the three best scores count. The lowest overall team score after 54 holes wins
- Overall team scores contribute to seedings for the eighth event of the season, the Team Championship. This is a four-day, four-round, match play knockout
Why Is The LIV Golf Invitational Series So Controversial?
LIV Golf is funded by The Public Investment Fund (PIF) which has links to the Saudi Arabian Government. The country has faced international criticism for its human rights record and LIV Golf has been accused of 'sportswashing' — in other words, critics argue that Saudi rulers are investing in golf (and other sports) to deflect attention from the way they treat their citizens.
Controversy also stems from the eye-watering sums of money LIV Golf has offered to its players. For instance, while the 2022 US Open had a total prize purse of $12.5 million, each LIV Golf event offers $25 million in prize money. This has led to accusations that the players involved are selling out and turning their backs on the PGA and DP World Tours, which played significant roles in their development as golfers. Both tours have introduced sanctions against ‘LIV rebels’, including fines and suspensions (Henrik Stenson was also relieved of his Ryder Cup captaincy). In return the players on the receiving end have threatened legal action.
Which Players Are Involved In The LIV Golf Invitational Series?
The field at themost recent event at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, featured 11 Major winners, including Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia. European Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are among the other big names on the tour.
LIV Golf: The Competition So Far
South Africa’s Charl Schwarzl, the 2011 Masters champion, won the inaugural event at Centurion Club in St Albans with an impressive three-round score of 7-under par. Scwarzl’s compatriot Branden Grace scooped the big prize at event two in Portland thanks to a final round of 65. Then, at Bedminster, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson carded a final-round 69 to finish two shots ahead of Dustin Johnson and Matthew Wolff.
Upcoming LIV Golf Events
Here’s how the remainder of the LIV Golf season looks:
- EVENT FOUR: LIV Golf Invitational Boson (The Oaks) - 2-4 September 2022
- EVENT FIVE: LIV Golf Invitational Chicago (Rich Harvest Farms) - 16-18 September 2022
- EVENT SIX: LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok (Stonehill) - 7-9 October 2022
- EVENT SEVEN: LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah (Royal Greens Golf & Country Club) - 14-16 October 2022
- EVENT EIGHT: LIV Golf Team Championship Miami (Blue Monster at Trump National Doral) - 27-30 October 2022