Saudi Arabia-Supported LIV Golf League: Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood top list of golfers looking to play in London

Professional golf is at a crossroads, and not everyone knows it. Rival golf leagues like McDonald’s are popping up on every corner, golfers are expected to take their talents to greener pastures – money-wise – and it’s difficult for the casual golf fan to keep up with exactly what’s happening.

The PGA Tour and DP World Tour (formerly known as the European Tour) still have the services of the best players in the world – all independent contractors – but now those players have options in the form of LIV Golf and, technically, the Golf Premier League.

The volume surrounding LIV Golf has increased since the Genesis Invitational, when Phil Mickelson’s controversial comments about the Saudi regime funding the league were released. The six-time major champion has been in hot water for almost three months over his pivotal role in the Saudi-backed golf series. In late April, Mickelson’s agent, Steve Loy, confirmed Lefty’s participation in LIV Golf’s first event.

Slowly but surely, other players are following in Mickelson’s footsteps. There have been official announcements from Robert Garrigus, Lee Westwood and Richard Bland, and unofficial claims from Sergio Garcia, Jason Kokrak and Adam Scott. Kevin Na, Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter and former world number one Martin Kaymer have all been linked to LIV Golf through various reports.

That’s what Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf, said on Tuesday Sky Sports that 19 of the world’s top 100 players, including six in the top 50, have pledged to attend next month’s inaugural event in London. Although the names have yet to be officially revealed, LIV Golf plans to unveil them to the public at next week’s PGA Championship.

Hours after Norman spoke to Sky Sports, it was reported that the PGA Tour had turned down all player requests for the inaugural LIV Golf event in London. It was understood the PGA Tour would grant these waivers, but that will not be the case as players who requested a release were notified of their refusals on Tuesday.

What is LIV Golf?

Currently helmed by Norman, LIV Golf will be hosting a series of eight tournaments starting this summer with some seriously outrageous prize money ($20 million in individual prize money plus a $5 million team payout). These payouts are being funded by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, which Norman said has just committed an additional $2 billion, and this series of eight events is seen as a precursor to a year-long league. The goal is to increase to 10 tournaments in 2023 and 14 tournaments in the following two years. The whole thing is a bit fiddly, especially with Distribution is not going well and ticket prices skyrocket.

Quien could play and when?

A few names are mentioned above, but who else is eligible? Typically, the PGA Tour allows players up to three “trips” per season to play on different world tours. The Saudi International in February is an example of an event for which press releases are issued because it was part of the Asia tour. Some sort of quid pro quo has been arranged with the PGA Tour for those who choose to participate. Players who have decided to play had to agree to play in a future AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am on the PGA Tour since the event was taking place that same week.

As previously mentioned, the PGA Tour takes a strong stance on the matter and decides to treat the Saudi International as a one-off event rather than part of the standard exit process. For this reason, it is safe to assume that no PGA Tour player will be eligible to play in the LIV Golf Series unless they are willing to oppose the PGA Tour’s decision – which is entirely possible.

In addition, Norman will invite several top amateurs to join the 48-player fields and reported that there are 170 total registrations for the London event.

There are eight LIV golf events in total in 2022, and while the PGA Tour is unlikely to release any of them, the DP World Tour could take a different stance. That means a fight between the leagues might not take place on the golf course but in a courtroom.

List of participants LIV Golf*

*unofficially

Meeting: 9th-11th June
Location: Centurion Club – London, England

Phil Michaelsson

Do not

Lee Westwood

Do not

Martin Kaymer

Do not

Serge Garcia

Do not

Robert Garrigue

Do not

Richard Bland

Do not

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