Amidst much hue and cry from the public and threats from the Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA), the LIV Golf Series has kicked off in London, starting today, June 9th. The breakaway golf series, backed by the sovereign fund of Saudi Arabia, has left golf fans divided.

Some of the most prominent golfers, including Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson, have already quit the PGA to play the LIV Golf series. Phil Mickelson, the 51-year-old maestro, has also changed his mind, and was seen in action on Day 1. Mickelson, however, is yet to quit his PGA membership, and is open to playing US Open next week.

The six-time major winner said: “I’ve also seen the good the game of golf has done throughout history. I believe LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game as well. I’m excited about this opportunity. That’s why I’m here.”

LIV Golf Series Vs PGA Tour

Unlike PGA tours, which are played for a course of 72 holes across four days, the LIV series will be only a 54-hole tournament featuring just 48 players. Moreover, it will only have eight events, and thus three-month window is enough for the completion of the tournament. The name ‘LIV’ is nothing but the Roman numeral for 54, and also the best score a golfer can achieve if they manage to birdie on each hole on a par-72 course. 

There will be 12 captains appointed by the LIV, and they will select three players each through a snake draft format ahead of every event. Now there’s a slight tweak in the scoring pattern as well. For the first two rounds, the best of two strokes will be taken into account for each team, while for the next two rounds, the best three scores will count. 

The individual champion will be crowned after accumulating the scores of the first seven events, and the eighth will be a team championship, slated to be held in Miami this year. In the final, the top four teams will receive a bye for the first round, while the remaining eight teams will fight out for a place in the quarter-finals. 

How much will the LIV players make?

When Dustin Johnson, who has won $74m in prize money, was asked to explain his decision to join LIV, he said: “I don’t want to play golf for the rest of my life, which I’ve felt like I was probably going to have to do.” Johnson is the highest-ranked golfer on the tour, and winning the LIV series will fetch him almost quadruple of what he would have earned on PGA tours. 

The winner of each event will get $4 million, and with seven tournaments cramped up within three months, players can earn a lucrative sum without toiling throughout the year. There’s no elimination here, meaning a player who is finishing last among 48 players will also take $120,00 home. Overall, $20million will be distributed among 48 players, while the team finishing first will get another $3 million, to be divided amongst four players. 

After the first seven events are completed, a sum of $30 million will be distributed among players who have participated in a minimum of four events.

For the season finale, the purse value is $50 million, and the winning team will take $ 16 million, while the team finishing last will receive $1 million. 

Is Tiger Woods Playing In The LIV Series?

The short answer is no. Greg Norman, the former World No. 1 and CEO of the LIV series, said that he offered a “mind-blowingly enormous” sum to Tiger Woods for his participation, but he didn’t oblige. However, Norman has managed to convince some of the leading golfers like Dustin Johnson and Mickelson by giving them a signing bonus of $100 million each. 

The rest of the 46 players too got received an eye-watering front for mere participation. Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Richard Bland, Kevin Na, and Louis Oosthuizen are some of the other prominent names on the list. 

Why Are Fans Opposing The LIV Golf Series?

The LIV Golf Series is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which has been on an acquisition spree in the sporting industry. Many perceive this as their latest episode of sportswashing, in an attempt to hide the abysmal human rights record in the nation. Last year, the regime had the journalist Jamal Khashoggi murdered on the order of Mohammed bin Salman, who heads the PIF. They recently acquired Newcastle United, and are planning to buy Serie A club Inter Milan. 

But the amount of money pumped into the tournament makes it too irresistible for the professional golfers to turn their back. Mickelson, who made a U-turn this week, summed up quite succinctly. He said: “They’re scary mother****s to get involved with. We know they killed Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

Featured Image: LIV Golf