After all the controversy surrounding it, the inaugural occasion of the LIV Golf Invitational Series will lastly happen on Thursday.
The Centurion Club in St Albans is the setting for golf’s divisive speaking level, the place the likes of former world No 1 Dustin Johnson and European Ryder Cup heroes like Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood will likely be participating.
Sportsmail supplies a lowdown on golf’s new insurgent tour and the way and why it is triggered such friction inside the sport.
The controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series begins on Thursday at the Centurion Club
What’s the background to the tour?
You can return to 1994 from when discussions a couple of new breakaway golf tour have been first declared. That was by Greg Norman (extra on him to return) with the former world No 1 proposing his personal World Golf Tour – a profitable, eight-event sequence that may showcase the sport’s finest gamers.
However, that concept by no means got here to fruition. Fast-forward 25 years and the present framework for the now LIV Golf Invitational Series started.
In January 2020, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan warned that any participant who joined a rival league would face a suspension and presumably a lifetime one.
‘If the Team Golf Concept [one of the other names used by the PGL] or one other iteration of this structure turns into a actuality in 2022 or at any time earlier than or after, our members must determine whether or not they need to proceed to be a member of the PGA Tour or play on a brand new sequence,’ he wrote in a press release.
Monahan’s foresight was appropriate as June 9, 2022 sees the begin of LIV Golf Invitational Series.
The PGA and DP World Tours have rejected requests from gamers to compete at Centurion Club in St Albans on Thursday and golfers who do function might face bans.
Greg Norman has lastly received his want of a breakaway league – 28 years after first planning one
Let’s deal with the elephant in the room. The motive why so many are towards it is due to who is backing the £1.6billion insurgent league. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the majority homeowners of Newcastle United, have hyperlinks to their authorities and have been accused of sportswashing. On March 12, 81 males have been executed in Saudi Arabia – with Amnesty International declaring it signalled an ‘appalling escalation in Saudi Arabia’s use of the loss of life penalty’.
Norman, who is now the CEO of LIV Golf Invitational Series, has defended these accusations insisting that Saudi Arabia is ‘altering their tradition inside their nation’ in May. He additionally declared: ‘I don’t answer to Saudi Arabia. I don’t answer to their authorities or MBS’.
Phil Mickelson (one other who we’ll profile in a bit extra element decrease down) needed to apologise for feedback he made about the breakaway sequence in February. The 51-year-old American described the Saudis as ‘scary m************’ and mentioned he was properly conscious of Saudi Arabia’s ‘horrible document on human rights’ – together with the homicide of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi – in an interview with the writer of a forthcoming biography.
Yet he added that working with the Saudis was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime alternative to reshape how the PGA Tour operates’ by creating a brand new sequence of tournaments with a unique format.
Phil Mickelson described the Saudis as ‘scary m************’ however has since signed as much as the tour
So, who has signed up?
Johnson is the largest and most stunning identify to have signed up to date. The former world No 1 had pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour in February however clearly sufficient money was thrown his solution to make switching allegiance worthwhile.
Johnson, who introduced that he has resigned from the PGA Tour on Tuesday, is anticipated to have been provided round £100million to enroll – a determine Bryson DeChambeau rejected, as revealed by Sportsmail.
On Monday it was introduced that Mickelson could be becoming a member of Johnson as a part of the insurgent league. The American hasn’t been seen on the PGA Tour since late January. His feedback in February (see the above part) provoked an enormous backlash and Mickelson apologised amid appreciable criticism. He disappeared from public view and missed each the Masters in April and the defensive of his title at the US PGA Championship final month.
However, Mickelson will be part of a 48-man area that additionally contains two-time main winner Johnson and European Ryder Cup stars similar to Garcia, Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer.
Overall the area contains seven main champions with a mixed 14 main titles, in addition to three former world No 1 ranked gamers and 27 of the high 150 golfers in the world.
Graeme McDowell has joined Johnson and Mickelson in becoming a member of the LIV Golf Invitational Series
ENTRANTS FOR FIRST LIV GOLF INVITATIONAL SERIES EVENT
Dustin Johnson (USA)
Phil Mickleson (USA)
Kevin Na (USA)
Talor Gooch (USA)
Sihwan Kim (USA)
Chase Koepka (USA)
Andy Ogletree (USA)
Turk Pettit (USA)
James Piot (USA)
Hudson Swafford (USA)
Peter Uihlein (USA)
Sergio Garcia (ESP)
Pablo Larrazabal (ESP)
Adrian Otaegui (ESP)
David Puig (ESP)
Martin Kaymer (GER)
Graeme McDowell (NIR)
Ian Poulter (ENG)
Lee Westwood (ENG)
Richard Bland (ENG)
Laurie Canter (ENG)
Oliver Fisher (ENG)
Sam Horsfield (ENG)
Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)
Oliver Bekker (RSA)
Hennie Du Plessis (RSA)
Branden Grace (RSA)
Justin Harding (RSA)
Shaun Norris (RSA)
JC Ritchie (RSA)
Charl Scwartzel (RSA)
Ian Snyman (RSA)
Matt Jones (AUS)
Jediah Morgan (AUS)
Wade Ormsby (AUS)
Travis Smyth (AUS)
Blake Windred (AUS)
Kevin Yuan (AUS)
Hideto Tanihara (JPN)
Ryosuke Kinoshita (JPN)
Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN)
Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA)
Ratchanon Chantananuwat (THA)
Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA)
Phachara Khongwatmai (THA)
Viraj Madappa (IND)
Scott Vincent (ZIM)
Bernd Wiesberger (AUT)
Who has rejected it?
Take your decide of star names by taking a look at who is stays on the PGA and DP World Tours. As talked about above, DeChambeau has rejected the advances of the Saudi-backed money to stay on the PGA Tour.
Rory McIlroy has been a vocal critic and talking about the area for Thursday’s occasion he did not pull no punches.
‘I actually do not suppose the area is something to leap up and down about,’ the four-time main winner mentioned final week.
‘Look at the area this week [at the Memorial Tournament]. Look at the area subsequent week in Canada. They are correct golf tournaments.
‘I’ve some very shut mates which can be taking part in on this occasion and I actually would not need to stand of their method for them to do what they really feel is proper for themselves.
‘It’s actually not one thing I might do personally. But I actually perceive why a few of the guys have gone.’
Rory McIlroy has been a giant critic and feels the area is nothing to ‘leap up and down about’
What about Tiger Woods?
On Monday, Norman revealed that 15-time main winner Tiger Woods had turned down a determine approaching $1billion (£800m) to hitch the Saudi golf revolution.
Underlining the seemingly limitless wealth the Saudis are ready to pour into golf, Norman revealed negotiations with Tiger’s representatives.
‘Woods turned down a deal that was mind-blowingly huge; we’re speaking about excessive 9 digits,’ he claimed.
Tiger Woods rejected a reported £800m provide to hitch the profitable however insurgent Saudi-backed tour
OK, so now to the golf. What’s the format?
There will likely be eight LIV Golf occasions this year – with the first seven a daily season the place gamers will compete as people and groups for each factors and prize money. At the finish of these seven occasions, an Individual Champion will likely be topped primarily based on factors collected all through the season. The eighth and remaining occasion will likely be the season-ending Team Championship match play occasion.
The competitions are to be performed over 54 holes fairly than the commonplace 72 with teams teeing off concurrently on completely different holes in a ‘shotgun’ begin. The identify LIV is Roman numerals for 54 – therefore the format too.
The tournaments will all be conventional stroke play, with whoever shoots the lowest rating successful the event. There will likely be no reduce from the occasion both – guaranteeing that no golfer goes house early too.
The participant with the most rating factors after the seven occasions will likely be named the Individual Champion.
For the staff occasions, it is a bit extra nuanced. Over the first two rounds, the finest two stroke play scores will rely for every staff. For the third and remaining spherical, the finest three scores will rely, with the lowest general staff rating after 54 holes being named the staff winner.
The Team Championship will likely be the eighth and remaining occasion of the season. This will likely be a seeded four-day, four-round, match play knock-out.
You’ve defined the Team Championship format, however who decides that?
The LIV Golf Invitational Series will function 12 groups of 4 gamers every. Since every occasion will likely be made up of a unique area, groups will likely be determined through a draft the week of every occasion. Each staff could have a LIV appointed staff captain who will choose their three open staff positions through a snake draft format.
To differentiate it additional, every staff could have distinctive logos, colours, and names.
As properly as deciding particular person winners at every occasion, the Saudi tour will even have staff occasions
Let’s discuss figures, how a lot money will gamers earn?
The first seven occasions all have a prize purse of £20.2m, with £16m of that being unfold throughout the 48-man area.
The remaining £4.2m distinction will likely be shared between the between the high three groups at the finish of every week – with £2.4m to the winners, £1.2m to second and £600,000 to 3rd.
Every participant is assured at the least £96,000 only for finishing 54 holes. That determine is for whoever comes final (or forty eighth) in the area.
The particular person winner will make £3.2m – £1m greater than Scottie Scheffler for his victory at The Masters and Justin Thomas secured for his PGA Championship earlier this year.
An Individual Champion will likely be topped at the finish of these occasions, with a £24m fund given to the the high three gamers of the season, on the foundation they compete in at the least 4 of the tournaments.
For the season finale in Miami, the prize pot doubles with £40.4m allotted between every of the 12 four-man groups. Each participant receives a 25 per cent reduce of staff earnings, with £12.8m awarded to the successful staff and £800,000 for the staff ending twelfth (or final).
Talk to me about the Centurion Club then?
Opened in 2013, the Centurion Club golf course is 7,100 yards in complete. Johnson, Mickelson and Co will likely be examined by the 80 bunkers and also will need to contend with 4 main water options.
The Centurion Club in St Albans is 7,100 yards, has 80 bunkers and 4 main water options
Where are future occasions happening this year?
After St Albans, the league heads to Pumpkin Ridge GC – Portland, USA (June 30-July 2), Trump National Golf Club – Bedminster, USA (July 29-31), The Oaks – Boston, USA (September 2-4), Rich Harvest Farms – Chicago, USA (September 16-18), Stonehill Golf Club – Bangkok, Thailand (October 7-9), Royal Greens Golf Club – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (October 14-16) after which Trump National Doral – Miami, USA (October 27-30).
How does the calendar for 2023 and past look?
Next year, the tour plans to increase to 10 occasions after which changing into a 14-event league from 2024. However, dates and places for both have not been confirmed as of but.
Anything else to notice?
As ever is the growing case with sporting occasions (see the Champions League remaining) there will likely be reside music carried out round the Centurion Club.
It was introduced on Monday that LIV Golf will stage a three-night live performance at the Centurion Club together with stars James Bay, Melanie C (DJ Set), Jessie J, Craig David, James Morrison and John Newman.
Describing it as ‘Apres Golf’ it will likely be a nightly free live performance.
Jessie J’s inclusion hasn’t been lost by some followers on social media – because of her 2011 hit single ‘Price Tag’.
Her first verse contains the lyrics ‘Seems like everyone’s received a worth, I ponder how they sleep at night time, When the sale comes first and the reality comes second, Just cease for a minute and smile’ – elevating ironic smiles from these towards this insurgent tour and it is idea.
Jessie J will likely be performing as a part of free night-time concert events and has a tune known as Price Tag
‘He bought his soul to the satan’: Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell are branded ‘completely despicable’ and ‘lowlifes’ by livid golf followers after they shamelessly tried to justify taking Saudi Arabia’s ‘blood money’ to hitch insurgent sequence
By Will Griffee
Furious golf followers have taken to social media of their droves to slam the ‘completely despicable’ Dustin Johnson and different ‘lowlife’ golfers for his or her participation in the Saudia Arabia-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
Numerous the world’s high gamers have chosen to leap ship from the PGA Tour in favour of the massively profitable and controversial new competitors.
Many view the it as the newest clear try from Saudi Arabia to enhance their world picture and masks quite a few human rights points by utilizing sport.
American golfer Johnson introduced he has resigned from the PGA Tour and sparked an indignant response on-line for his reasoning at becoming a member of the Saudi Arabia-backed competitors
The two-time main champion is a part of the new breakaway Saudi-led sequence, the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which begins this week in St Albans
As a former World No 1, Johnson is the jewel in the crown of the breakaway group and spoke at a press convention on Tuesday, explaining his choice whereas formally confirming his resignation from the PGA Tour.
‘I do not need to play for the remainder of my life, this offers me a possibility to do what I need to do,’ he defined.
His participation means he will likely be unable to play in the Ryder Cup and he added: ‘The Ryder Cup is unbelievable and has meant lots to me, however in the end I made a decision this was finest for me and my household.
‘All issues are topic to alter and hopefully sooner or later it would change and I’ll get an opportunity to try this once more.’
Golf followers have been infuriated by what they noticed as a transparent money seize from Johnson and the different gamers participating, together with Phil Mickelson.
Johnson mentioned again in February that he was dedicated to the PGA Tour, however has achieved a U-turn
One wrote: ‘Dustin Johnson you at the moment are an official sports activities washer. Congratulations. Don’t care the place the money comes from.’
Another added: ‘I do not need to need to play golf all my life’ – Dustin Johnson. F***ing Hell Dustin, you are not taking place the pit! I’d ban the 3 of them from each main for 10 years.’
‘Shame on you for taking blood oil money over giving the probability for actual younger golfers the alternative to look at and play with you……actually are an instance of an American buffoon you might be,’ wrote a 3rd.
Johnson is the second golfer to resign from the PGA Tour to hitch the contentious new occasion which is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Fellow American Kevin Na mentioned he had additionally chosen that choice final week.
Another irate fan referred to the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a royal household insider turned critic, killed and dismembered at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, in a case that tarnished the status of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
McDowell got here in for loads of flak for his responses throughout the press convention
He wrote: ‘You suppose being concerned with The Saudi’s is what is finest for your loved ones? You know they murdered a reporter and dismembered him proper?? Good luck with that and luxuriate in there blood money!
Graeme McDowell is one other participant who has dedicated to play and was additionally focused for criticism.
‘At one time thought McDowell was somebody I might admire bit now not after he bought his soul to the satan. Not shocked at Phil or DJ although,’ posted a supporter.
‘Aw man, McDowell is taking part in for the Saudi Arabian dictatorship sportswashing mission! Imagine, I had respect for him’, provided one other.
Phil Mickelson will play the opening occasion of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series
The 42-year-old Northern Irishman bizarrely in contrast the competitors to Twenty20 cricket at Tuesday’s press convention.
He mentioned: ‘There’s house in the sport for one thing contemporary and new. Shorter taking part in home windows sort of like Twenty20 cricket in the event you like. We take a look at the cricket mannequin and we take a look at the success they’ve had with the IPL and the Twenty20 and there is loads of what we’re attempting to do right here that we really feel prefer it’s higher for the fan, it is higher for the gamers.
‘It is one thing contemporary and enjoyable and it has been energising to have this chance in entrance of us, it has been extremely polarising however no we’re right here and I’m wanting ahead to getting balls in the air.’
While the following gamers have been namechecked by one other dissatisfied onlooker.
‘The willingness of rich professional golfers to assist the Saudis sportswash their abysmal human rights document is rooted firmly in greed. I’m saddened by you all: Greg Norman Phil Mickelson Dustin Johnson Lee Westwood Ian Poulter Sergio García Graeme McDowell.’
Woods turned down the probability to hitch the insurgent group in a blow to the competitors
The time period ‘lowlifes’ was utilized in one message: ‘Graeme McDowell justifies taking money from murderers by them by saying theyre simply golfers however hopefully #SaudiArabia will use #LIVGolf to raised themselves even mentioning the homicide of #Khashoggi. Soon in any case are laughing & simply saying they cant add anything. Lowlifes.’
The first event takes place on the outskirts of London on Thursday at Centurion Club.
Players similar to Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have taken a agency stance towards the breakaway group, which has proved to be unimaginable controversial.
The first seven occasions all have a prize purse of £20million, with £16m being distributed between the 48-man area and the remaining £4m being shared between the high three groups at the finish of every week.