Before LIV Golf wrapped up its disruptive inaugural season with a record-setting $50 million prize fund Sunday near Miami, the Saudi-backed tour offered a blueprint to what its sophomore year will entail.
In a word, bigger.
Atul Khosla, LIV Golf’s president and chief operating officer, outlined some key “milestones” for 2023:
“Our goals are to transition to the league, have 12 teams established and get them off the ground, and clearly build on the on-course and fan experience we are seeing and the engagement we are seeing," Khosla said. “We have to start commercializing the product. Get on TV. [We] need to find corporate partners. Those are milestones we need to hit going into next year."
A big component of LIV Golf’s growth model eventually will be to sell the 12 franchises, similar to how teams in other professional leagues are organized, as the Saudis attempt to recoup their investment via their Public Investment Fund, the kingdom’s oil-rich sovereign wealth fund.
American major champions Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson will be among the prominent players who will be featured as team captains. READ MORE and MORE
Though golf’s four major championships have yet to disclose whether they will welcome LIV Golf members in 2023, the R&A offered a big clue about its Open Championship. “We’ll go public in January/February with what we are going to do with regard to LIV golfers,” R&A CEO Martin Slumbers told Golf Digest’s John Huggan. “But if you want a guide, go back to what I said in July. We’re not banning anyone. We are not going to betray 150 years of history and have the Open not be open. The name says it all. And that’s important. What we will do is ensure that there are appropriate pathways and ways to qualify. I’m looking forward to seeing (defending champion and LIV member) Cam Smith tee up around 9:40 a.m. on the first day of the Open next year. The Open needs to set itself aside from what’s going in terms of disagreements and make sure we stay true to our principle, which is to have the best players in the world competing.” READ MORE
Organizers of the three U.S.-based major championships have come under scrutiny by antitrust investigators in the wake of LIV Golf’s legal dispute with the PGA Tour, according to published reports. The USGA, which administers the U.S. Open, confirmed to The New York Times it has been contacted by the Justice Department as part of its probe of PGA Tour operations. Augusta National Golf Club, which runs the Masters Tournament, and the PGA of America, which operates the PGA Championship, also reportedly have been contacted by investigators. The story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. READ MORE a MORE
Bryson DeChambeau, standing on what he calls “principle,” said he remains a plaintiff in LIV Golf’s federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour because the tour refused to pay him the final half of the $3.5 million bonus he earned as part of the Player Impact Program, ESPN reported. Speaking with Global Golf Post’s Ron Green Jr. before LIV Golf’s season-ending event at Trump National Doral, DeChambeau said: “One of the main reasons I am in the lawsuit is because they haven’t paid me the second half of the PIP money. That’s the reason I am in it. I would have gladly (gotten out) if they had taken care of it. We asked them, and they said no. There are ramifications to that procedure and process on their own end, which is fine. I’m willing to go through that discovery process.” Bubba Watson also said he is owed a seven-figure PIP payment. READ MORE
A majority of self-identified LIV Golf fans would rather watch the PGA Tour than the rival tour and, in fact, have not watched LIV this year, according to a recent survey. In a survey of 2,210 U.S. adults, market-research company Morning Consult found 58 percent of so-called LIV Golf fans have not watched the new tour, which has been available mainly via streaming services, and 79 percent said they still are more interested in watching the PGA Tour. The results, which had a margin of error of 2 percentage points, speak to one of the biggest challenges of LIV Golf, which concluded its eight-event inaugural season on Sunday: how to grow its fan base without a network-TV deal. READ MORE
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund spent $784 million in seeding LIV Golf for its inaugural eight-event season, which concluded Sunday at Trump National Doral, and has committed $1 billion for the 2023 season, which will expand to 14 tournaments, according to a report by Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig. READ MORE
LIV Golf landed a legal punch to the chin of the PGA Tour last week when a federal magistrate ruled the tour must provide more information about a previously released list of entities contacted about the upstart Saudi-funded tour. LIV Golf and the PGA Tour are embroiled in a series of lawsuits in U.S. District Court of Northern California, with discovery ongoing ahead of a trial set for Jan. 8, 2024. READ MORE
A federal judge in New York agreed to seal a motion filed by the PGA Tour against Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is financing LIV Golf, and transfer the case to U.S. District Court in Northern California, GolfChannel.com reported. READ MORE
Staff and wire reports