Rory McIlroy has told Charl Schwarzel his win at the Saudi opening event in Hertfordshire last week “didn’t mean anything” despite the South African raising nearly £4million.
McIlroy also triumphed over the weekend with a successful defense of the Canadian Open. His 21st PGA Tour title – which he was quick to emphasize – gave him a lead over LIV Golf boss Greg Norman in the standings a two wins isn’t quantifiable.
“Last week in Canada … LIV will never have that,” McIlroy said. “Last week [in Canada] meant something. What they did over there meant nothing.”
Which players have signed up?
Two of the biggest names in world golf, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed are the latest players to add their names to the Saudi rebel circle. The two controversial Americans have agreed multi-million dollar deals to take part in the £200million LIV Golf Series.
DeChambeau and Reed did not play in the opening event, but Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia were the star names in the opening field, with other notable entrants including England’s Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace and Rickie Fowler.
Where are the eight LIV Golf events held?
The Breakaway Circuit began at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire and is now moving to the United States for three stops.
It then has two events in Bangkok and Saudi Arabia before the tour concludes at Trump Doral in Miami in late October.
What is the format?
The 48-man field will play in 12 teams of four, as determined by a June 7 draft.
The first seven events of the regular season will consist of three 54-hole events with no cut and shotgun starts, while the final event will be a four-day team matchplay KO.
LIV then plans 10 events in 2023, followed by “a full season” of 14 tournaments in 2024 and 2025.
Centurion, like the other seven events in 2022, is being classified as “bater tournaments” by Chief Executive Greg Norman to attract big names who have so far resisted what the circuit has on offer.
What is the prize money?
LIV Golf says total prize money for its eight events will “reach an unprecedented US$255m” (£204m).
The first seven events of the regular season have a prize pool of US$25m (£20m), with the singles winner receiving US$4m (£3.2m), runner-up receiving US$120,000 (£96,000) and a team event gets $5m (£4m).
In the eighth season-ending event, teams will be battling for a share of US$50m (£40m) in prize money.
Coverage is streamed on the organization’s website, as well as YouTube and Facebook, with Arlo White anchoring a three-person broadcast booth.
Why is it controversial?
The Saudi-backed circuit is on a collision course with the two main tours – the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour – which have refused to allow players to compete in the rebel events, with a legal battle between the tours and LIV Golf is likely .
LIV chief executive Norman has also been criticized for leading the breakaway circle whose Saudi investors have been accused of “sport washing” the country’s poor human rights record.
However, Norman said LIV Golf is “independent” and the Saudis are “not my bosses”. The Australian told Sky Sports: “We [LIV Golf] are independent. I do not reply to Saudi Arabia. I can tell you categorically that is not the case. I don’t reply to MBS.”
Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and the other Saudi rebels have escaped immediate bans from the DP World Tour – formerly the European Tour – for next week’s BMW International but have been told it will likely only be a brief respite to fight against the Saudi rebels to play circuit.
PGA Tour chief executive Jay Monahan acted decisively by imposing indefinite bans on the 17 players in his circle who played in last week’s £20m LIV Golf Series opener, but European counterpart Keith Pelley was initially silent.