LIV Golf returns for 2023; here’s what you need to know

LIV Golf, the breakthrough tour that changed the world of golf last year, kicks off its second season this week. Stay up to date with the latest developments in the world of golf right here before the start of the season.

It’s been a long time. What’s the story with LIV?

LIV (pronounced “live”, rhymes with “give”, not “LIV”) is a splinter golf league that started playing last year. While LIV bills itself as “Golf but louder”, in practice it was “Golf but more profitable” – for the players, if not for the LIV itself. The LIV’s value proposition — a limited tournament roster with no cuts, a guaranteed salary paired with nine-figure signing bonuses — was attractive enough to lure a few big names off the PGA Tour.

Many of the players who moved to the LIV are still famous players whose best golf is behind them, such as Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter. Some of them are people with sharp elbows who have clashed with the Tour, the media and even fans, such as Brooks Kepka, Patrick Reid and Bryson DeChambeau. There are a few players in LIV in particular – Cam Smith and Dustin Johnson – who are still at or near the top of their game.

The players’ decision to take the LIV money had dramatic consequences. Those who did not resign from the PGA Tour were banned from participation for many years. The LIV’s 54-hole, no-cut format makes it ineligible for Official World Ranking Golf points, meaning LIV players also face an uphill battle for eligibility in major tournaments if they are not already eligible.

LIV Golf beat the odds of most upstart leagues by surviving into its second season. Now the hard work begins.

What is the status of LIV today?

LIV Golf is now the dog that caught the car – and not just caught the car, but dragged it to the side of the road and shook it so hard that everyone inside shook. Yes, that would be the very big dog we’re talking about, but thanks to the Saudis’ endless financial resources, the LIV does qualify as “big”.

Now the question for LIV is whether one “big” is enough, and this is where things get tricky. It’s relatively easy to disrupt, break norms, grab attention, especially in a balanced environment like golf. It is always easier to destroy a sandcastle than to build one. That’s what LIV is doing right now – trying to build a better sandcastle than the one he tried to destroy last year.

What is the LIV schedule for 2023?

The series kicks off its second season this weekend at the El Camaleón golf course at the Mayakoba resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Future events will take place literally all over the world, from Australia to Spain and Saudi Arabia. LIV has 14 events scheduled for 2023, all of which are strategically linked to the big and top-notch events on the PGA Tour. Three US events will be held at clubs owned by former President Donald Trump.

Phil Mickelson and LIV Golf are back this weekend.  (Jasen Vinlov, USA TODAY Sports)
Phil Mickelson and LIV Golf are back this weekend. (Jasen Vinlov, USA TODAY Sports)

Where is LIV broadcast?

Last year, LIV events were streamed on YouTube, as well as on the LIV website and on social media. The numbers were paltry compared to even the lowest-ranked PGA Tour events; live streaming has little chance of attracting a viable number of viewers. Last fall, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman boasted that four networks were vying for the right to broadcast LIV events in 2023. Whether this is true or not, the end result is that LIV events will be shown on the CW this year, as well as on LIV’s own app and streaming service.

What is the format of the LIV command?

One of LIV’s most intriguing innovations is the team format, in which 12 teams of four players compete both weekly and throughout the season. The introduction of a team structure into a highly individual sport like golf has led to some clumsy attempts to create a team spirit; most golfers can’t help but look dumb when they make fire moves. Team names range from the smart (Bubba Watson’s Range Goats) to the bland and anonymously harmless (Dustin Johnson’s Aces) to, well… Phil Mickelson’s HyFlyers.

Players do their best to sell this idea – Watson, in particular, claims that his son thinks as highly of aces as he does of Cowboys and Yankees. – but it’s all so new that it has the atmosphere of a high school game. However, adding a layer of team play on top of golf’s individual structure is an exciting and potentially audience-engaging concept; it will almost certainly show up on the PGA Tour in some form in the coming years.

Just maybe with a slightly better game than this:

What about the connection with Saudi Arabia?

LIV’s fiercest critics point to its Saudi origins, arguing that Saudi Arabia is trying to clean up its image by normalizing its business relationships through golf. Governments and activists around the world have criticized documented and alleged human rights abuses by the Saudi ruling regime, with LIV critics saying players are complicit in taking money, essentially, directly from the Saudi government.

The LIV players who attempted to rationalize the league’s financial underpinnings came across as unprepared at best and uninformed and insensitive at worst. Players who have done better in public opinion, such as Dustin Johnson and Harold Varner III, have shied away from any explanation, quietly admitting that money was actually the reason for their entry into the league, and not some vague boast about “the development of the game.” “. “. While LIV contributes to local charities prior to every tournament it enters, LIV’s main growth comes from the net worth of its players.

Protests continue to follow the events of LIV; the families of the Americans killed in the 9/11 attacks continue to insist that players distance themselves from Saudi riches. But for now, it seems like all the parties involved are sticking to their decisions. This is of course subject to change, especially if a well-known PGA Tour player moves to the LIV, but for now the situation is stable.

Where can LIV players compete outside of LIV?

LIV players cannot participate in the PGA Tour. However, all four major tournaments – Masters, PGA Championship, US Open and Open Championship – have indicated that qualified LIV players will be invited to play in 2023. For example, Johnson has standing invitations to return to Augusta, but many others must qualify, either by playing in “open” tournaments or by placing fairly high on the official world golf rankings.

This fact represents a major setback for many players who have switched to LIV and have seen their positions in the global rankings plummet as a result. LIV has submitted an application to OWGR to add to its rating formula, but there are still several months before a decision on this issue is made.

Dustin Johnson dominated last year's LIV season.  (Richard Kashin, USA TODAY Sports)
Dustin Johnson dominated last year’s LIV season. (Richard Kashin, USA TODAY Sports)

What impact did LIV have on the PGA Tour?

The phenomenal wealth pouring into the pockets of LIV golfers has resulted in higher wages for all PGA Tour players; every Tour player who competes in 15 tournaments now receives a $500,000 guaranteed scholarship no matter how well they play. The tour also leveled up some events to bring in more of the world’s best players more often and earn them even more money. Stars have long protested the tour’s rule that they return home empty-handed, even if they were used to promote the event.

What is the status of the lawsuit against the LIV/PGA Tour?

The LIV and PGA Tour are involved in a litany of lawsuits and counterclaims, each alleging the other’s business practices, which only fuels the enmity between the two organizations. The lawsuit also draws third parties such as Augusta National into conflict, and controversies and revelations of no longer private discussions between heavyweights in the golf industry ignite Golf Twitter every few weeks.

The lawsuit is due to go to court next January, but there is still a significant chance of a settlement before then. For starters, seven of the 11 LIV players who filed the original lawsuit against the PGA Tour, many of whom wanted to play in last season’s playoffs, dropped the lawsuit. The tour won a significant victory this week alone, succeeding in its proposal to add LIV’s Saudi investors as defendants in a counterclaim against LIV. It is difficult to speculate about the fate of the complex trial, but the Saudi regime clearly does not like the idea of ​​having to provide documents to satisfy the American court. The chances of a settlement before any of the covert parties subpoenaed in a case have to produce documentation have been greatly increased.

Will LIV and PGA Tour ever reconcile?

After all the heat and noise of 2022, temperatures have dropped significantly between LIV and Tour. As long as there are legal battles between them, there will be resentment, and as long as Norman is at the helm, there is always the chance of a verbal volley that will rekindle the fire. But it is easy to imagine a situation – in a few years – when the two sides find a way to coexist.

The LIV, as an organization, is in a difficult position ahead of the 2023 season. Norman’s promises to sign seven of the world’s top 20 players this year proved to be unfounded; The highest ranked player to move to the LIV since last season is world No. 35 Thomas Peters. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is getting a little lively with big events and the reach of the Netflix series.

Golf will remain an exciting story throughout 2023, but as long as the LIV and PGA Tour remain at different courses, the audience for each will be smaller than it could be if they joined forces.


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