LIV members can compete in all four major championships this year, but their hopes for the Ryder Cup in the fall could be out of reach.
One day after the R&A opted to allow LIV players eligible for the Open Championship to compete in golf’s oldest event, the PGA of America opened the doors to its PGA Championship for members of the rival circuit. Augusta National Golf Club and the USGA previously announced that qualified LIV golfers could compete in the Masters and U.S. Open, respectively. However, that doesn’t mean that the PGA Tour defectors’ competitive paths beyond LIV Golf have become free of obstacles.
A dramatic run-up in prize money this year on the PGA Tour, which indefinitely suspended LIV signees last year, was designed to ward off more defections to the Saudi-funded tour. The larger purses – 10 “designated” events worth $20 million plus the $25 million Players Championship – will work against LIV golfers who hope to rank among the six automatic qualifiers for the Ryder Cup in Rome, regardless of what the PGA of America and the R&A might decide about their fate. After all, the road to Ryder Cup qualification for the Americans runs through the PGA Tour.
The Ryder Cup qualifying system awards one point for every $1,000 won in a PGA Tour event, 1.5 points at the majors and double points for winning a major title.
“If the only events they get in are the majors, they would need to win one or more, or finish high in a couple of others,” Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s chief championships officer, told the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson.
LIV Golf remains barred from acquiring Official World Golf Ranking points at LIV events, so as players tumble in the rankings, they lose another potential pathway into golf’s big events. READ MORE
The PGA Tour added Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, to the tour’s amended countersuit in LIV Golf’s federal antitrust lawsuit. The action came late last week after Judge Beth Labson Freeman ruled on a motion in favor of the tour in Jones et al. v. PGA Tour, Inc. in U.S. District Court of Northern California. Also, she stated that any delay in the case schedule would be attributed to LIV, the PIF and Al-Rumayyan due to their failure to comply with the subpoenas. Saudi Arabia has until Tuesday to file an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” brief that explains the nation’s claim for sovereign immunity as to why its PIF and Al-Rumayyan should not have to comply with PGA Tour subpoenas. The trial date of January 8, 2024, remains unchanged. READ MORE
Former Masters champions Dustin Johnson and Sergio García no longer will endorse Adidas, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach reported ahead of the start of LIV Golf’s second season. Johnson, a former world No. 1-ranked player who won LIV’s inaugural season title, had been an Adidas representative since he turned professional 15 years ago. He sought to end the deal so that he could focus on building his 4Aces team brand with LIV, according to the report. Adidas ended its deal with García. READ MORE
American Hudson Swafford was not included on one of the Saudi-funded tour’s 12 team rosters for 2023 because of a hip injury that he said will require surgery and then four to six months of rehabilitation. Earlier this month, Swafford, 35 – a three-time winner on the PGA Tour who struggled in his debut season with LIV Golf – missed the cut at the Asian Tour’s Saudi International and then withdrew from the next week’s International Series Oman event. READ MORE
LIV Golf disclosed the format for a qualifying school to be held in November for the tour’s 2024 season, Golf Digest’s Evan Priest reported, citing a copy of the plan. READ MORE
LIV Golf landed its first global commercial partner when EasyPost, a Utah-based shipping service, signed a deal with the second-year tour. READ MORE
LIV launched its app, LIV Golf Plus, and the streaming service LIVGolfPlus.com in advance of the tour’s season-opening event last week at Mayakoba Resort in Mexico. The tour also made its debut on the CW Network. READ MORE
For the first time in 24 years, the PGA and LPGA tours will unite for a mixed-team event.
The Grant Thornton Invitational will debut December 8-10 at Ritz-Carlton Golf Club’s Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Florida. The 32-player field – 16 PGA Tour players and 16 from the LPGA – will compete for equal prize money in the $4 million event.
The tournament replaces the QBE Shootout, formerly known as the Shark Shootout and hosted by Greg Norman, who butted heads with the PGA Tour last year when he became CEO and commissioner of rival LIV Golf. The rival tour subsequently filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour that is headed for trial early next year.
The PGA and LPGA tours last co-hosted a mixed-team event in 1999, when the JCPenney Classic ended a 50-year run, mostly in Florida. Tiburón Golf Club will be the site of the LPGA’s season-ending Tour Championship three weeks before the new mixed-team event. READ MORE
This week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational will feature nine of the top 10-ranked players in the world and 27 of the top 30, but it will lack the one man – other than the late eponymous host, of course – who has become synonymous with Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida: Tiger Woods. After Woods returned from a seven-month absence on the PGA Tour to play the recent Genesis Invitational, which benefits his foundation, speculation focused on whether he might make another stop before the Masters in early April. Given the fact that Woods is an eight-time champion at Bay Hill, this week’s tournament made a very short list of potential starts. That didn’t happen. Could next week’s Players, the tour’s flagship event which Woods has won twice, serve as a final tuneup before Augusta? We will know at 5 p.m. EST Friday, the deadline to enter. READ MORE
The Open Championship will offer 34 exemptions via 15 professional tournaments in nine countries, plus 16 spots via Final Qualifying, the R&A announced. The 151st Open will be played July 20-23 at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England. READ MORE
A new exemption category has been created for the PGA Championship via the International Federation Ranking List of the Official World Golf Ranking, the PGA of America announced. READ MORE
The PGA Tour will return to Mexico after its long-standing fall event at Mayakoba Resort in Playa del Carmen was pulled in favor of a LIV Golf tournament, Golfweek’s Adam Schupak reported. The World Wide Technology Championship will be played at Diamante’s El Cardonál, Tiger Woods’ first designed course to open, on the tip of Baja California. READ MORE
Twelve finalists were announced for consideration in the World Golf Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024. The candidates are Peter Dawson, Johnny Farrell, Jim Furyk, Beverly Hanson, Butch Harmon, Pádraig Harrington, Cristie Kerr, Sandra Palmer, Dottie Pepper, Jay Sigel and Tom Weiskopf, plus a collective entry for the seven remaining co-founders of the LPGA who are not already enshrined: Alice Bauer, Bettye Danoff, Helen Detweiler, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Sally Sessions and Shirley Spork. Final selections will be announced in early March. READ MORE
Suzann Pettersen was granted another shot as Europe’s Solheim Cup captain when the Ladies European Tour named the Norwegian to return as its 2024 team captain. Pettersen, 41, a 15-time winner on the LPGA who won six more times on the LET, compiled an 18-12-6 record in nine Solheim Cups, capping her career by sinking the winning putt in the 2019 match at Gleneagles in Scotland. Pettersen and American counterpart Stacy Lewis will serve encores after this year’s matches at Finca Cortesín in Spain. In 2024 at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia, the biennial Solheim Cup will return to being played in even-numbered years after the golf schedule was rearranged because of the effects of COVID in recent years. READ MORE
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy made the short drive from their homes in Jupiter, Florida, to Palm Beach Gardens early last week, but it was not to prepare for the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic at nearby PGA National. Woods and McIlroy, partners in TMRW Sports Group, visited Palm Beach State College for a ceremonial groundbreaking of their first project: TGL, an interactive, indoor high-tech golf league. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan were among the participants. READ MORE
Golf equipment sales fell 12.9 percent in January compared with the same month one year earlier, according to research from Golf Datatech. Though the sale of golf balls held steady, the trend was lower for distance devices (minus-21.2 percent) and shoes (minus-19.4 percent), the industry researcher reported. READ MORE
The Epson Tour finalized plans for its 22nd tournament of the 2023 season, the women’s developmental tour announced. The Champions Fore Change Invitational will be played June 2-4 at Taberna Country Club in New Bern, North Carolina. The LPGA’s top feeder circuit begins play next week in Winter Haven, Florida. READ MORE
Jan Stephenson was scheduled to start treatment immediately after having been diagnosed with breast cancer recently, the LPGA reported, citing her foundation. Stephenson, 71, an Australian, won 16 times on the LPGA in the 1970s and ’80s, including three major championships, in a career perhaps as noted for her sex appeal in promoting women’s golf as for her on-course accomplishments. Stephenson was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2019. READ MORE
Compiled by Steve Harmon