What is LIV Golf, who is playing and how can I watch?
The second season of LIV Golf is underway with the Saudi-backed tour eager to pick up momentum after its players starred in this year’s Masters.
Brooks Koepka, who led at Augusta heading into the final round, eventually finishing in a tie for second, shone alongside Phil Mickelson to underline the competitiveness of those players to have already made the switch.
There is still controversy surrounding the tour’s format, which has so far prevented it from picking up OWGR points, thus partially blocking players’ path to play in the majors.
The flow of world-class players from the rival PGA Tour towards LIV has slowed considerably, with Greg Norman pushing to make more statement signings since adding Open champion Cameron Smith last year.
Here’s everything you need to know about LIV Golf as season two continues in 2023:
What is LIV Golf?
LIV Golf is the breakaway league fronted by two-time Open champion Greg Norman as chief executive and backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
The PIF has invested unprecedented sums of money into the sport, both for players to sign up and also purses for each event, attracting condemnation from human rights charities such as Amnesty International.
The new competition rules and format bring a fresh look to golf, with the team aspect emerging as its unique selling point.
There will be 12 teams and 48 players in each field, with the tournament played over 54 holes and three days - rather than the traditional 72 holes and four days. There is no cut, unlike the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, while LIV Golf also added the shotgun start, which they say promotes faster play with groups starting at different holes across the course and playing it in different orders.
Why has LIV Golf attracted controversy?
LIV Golf has been routinely criticised by Amnesty International and other human rights groups. The tour has been labelled a sportswashing project of Saudi Arabia, in order to improve its reputation globally through sport. Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s chief executive, criticised players for “sidestepping the real gravity of Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record.”
He added: “Platitudes about golf being a ‘force for change’ mean very little if players are acting as unofficial arms of the Saudi government’s PR machine.”
LIV Golf players have also been criticised by the 9/11 families in the United States, calling them “cowards”. Protests outside the Donald Trump’s Bedminster tournament in New Jersey, located just 50 miles from Ground Zero, saw Brett Eagleson, whose father John died in the attack on the World Trade Center, say: “When I think about (my father) and I hear thousands of other stories about true heroes that day and I see these golfers dodge questions, put their head in the sand. Not want to ... address our issues and just say ‘golf is for the greater good’ or ‘I’m doing this for my family’. Well my dad went to work that day to provide for his family and he got blown away. If we can’t get a golfer to at least look us in the eye and tell us they are doing it for the money and they don’t give a s*** about the atrocities of Saudi Arabia, they’re cowards.”
The sporting aspect of LIV Golf has also caused controversy, with its players desperate to secure ranking points and entry to the majors as a result of placing inside the top 50 players - although LIV players have gained other exemptions to play in majors since defecting to the Saudi-backed tour. But the OWGR, who has authority over the points system, has so far denied ranking points to LIV Golf, which has seen its players tumble down the rankings and lose status to play the four biggest individual tournaments of the year. It is an issue that has divided fans, although an argument against gaining access continues to be the reduced number of rounds played, limited fields (compared to standard PGA Tour events) and the absence of a cut - all requisites in the existing rules to gain access to points.
An ongoing legal battle with the PGA Tour has developed, with LIV Golf accusing its rival of being a “monopoly” and “anti-competitive”. LIV Golf is seeking “punitive damages against the PGA Tour for its tortious interference with LIV Golf’s prospective business relationships.” An outcome is expected in 2024.
A separate legal battle between LIV Golf players and the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, concluded in April, with the latter victorious and able to hand down fines totalling hundreds of thousands after players competed in LIV and Asian Tour events without consent. It has led to players such as Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson rescinding their memberships to avoid paying the fines. Although those players will not be permitted membership or be reinstated until they have paid the fines.
LIV Golf schedule 2023
24-26 February: El Camaleon Golf Course, Mayakoba, Mexico - individual winner Charles Howell
17-19 March: Gallery Golf Club, Tucson, United States - individual winner Danny Lee
31 March - 2 April Orange County National, Orland, United States - individual winner Brooks Koepka
21-23 April Grange Golf Club, Adelaide, Australia - individual winner Talor Gooch
28-30 April Sentosa Golf Club, Singapore - individual winner Talor Gooch
12-14 May Cedar Ridge Country Club, Tulsa, United States
26-28 May Trump National Golf Club, Washington DC, United States
30 June - 2 July Real Club Valderrama, Sotogrande, Andalucia, Spain
7-9 July Centurion Club, St Albans, UK
4-6 August Old White Golf Course, Greenbrier, United States
11-13 August Trump National Bedminster, United States
22-24 September Rich Harvest Farms, Chicago, United States
20-22 October Trump National Doral, United States
3-5 November Royal Greens Golf Course, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Who is playing?
LIV Golf League 2023 - Full Field:
Charles Howell III
Harold Varner III
Is it on TV?
LIV Golf has yet to be picked up by a major broadcaster in the UK, but viewers can watch the coverage for free via the newly-launched LIV Golf Plus app and LIV Golf Plus website.
LIV has signed a TV deal with The CW network in the United States. The first round of action will be available on The CW App through smart TVs and mobile devices, with login or subscription is required to watch. The second and third rounds will be available on The CW, as well as the app.
How much is the prize money?
The prize money for 2023 is up 63 percent to $405 million.
Each LIV Golf event will have a purse of $25 million - $20m for the individual event and $5 million for the team event. The Team Championship will have $50 million up for grabs. In addition to the 14 LIV Golf events, there are 11 international series, each boasting a $5 million purse.
The individual winner of each event will take home $4 million, while the winning team adds $3 million - $750,000 per player. Last place, 48th, in the individual standings will still take home $120,000.
The winning team from the Team Championship takes home $16 million, or $4 million per player.
Individual season finish bonuses will be given to the top three players, first takes home an extra $18 million, the runner-up banks $8 million and third takes home $4 million from the $30 million bonus pool.
The individual events will see regular strokeplay scoring to decide the champion each week.
The team event will see the best two stroke play scores from each of the first two rounds count for each team. For the third and final round, the best three scores will count, with the lowest overall team score after 54 holes being named the team winner.
Each team has a captain with four players in total.
The Team Championship in Jeddah, the 14th event of the season, will see a seeded four-day, four-round, match play knock-out.
The winner each week will pick up 40 points and only those inside the top 24 players – half of the 48-man field – will earn points. The leading points scorer after the 13 regular LIV Golf events will be crowned individual champion.
1st – 40 points
2nd – 30 points
3rd – 24 points
4th – 18 points
5th – 16 points
6th - 14 points
7th – 13 points
8th – 12 points
9th – 11 points
10th – 10 points
11th – 8 points
12th - 7 points
13th – 6 points
14th - 5 points
15th - 4 points
16th - 3 points
17th - 3 points
18th - 2 points
19th - 2 points
20th - 2 points
21st - 1 point
22nd - 1 point
23rd - 1 point
24th - 1 point
To determine seeding for the Team Championship, teams will be awarded points for each event.
1st - 32 points
2nd - 24 points
3rd - 16 points
4th - 12 points
5th - 8 points
6th - 4 points
7th - 2 points
8th - 1 point
9th - 12th - no points