Rory McIlroy has told Charl Schwartzel that his win in last week’s opening Saudi event in Hertfordshire “meant nothing” despite the South African collecting nearly £4million.
McIlroy also triumphed on the weekend, with a successful defence of the Canadian Open. His 21st PGA Tour title – which he was quick to point out took him one clear of LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman in the all-time standings – saw him collect less than half of Schwartzel’s bounty, but the Northern Irishman believes the difference in the two victories is unquantifiable.
“Last week in Canada…LIV will never have that,” McIlroy said. “Last week [in Canada] meant something. What they were doing over there meant nothing.”
Which players 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 circuit. The two controversial Americans have agreed multi-million dollar deals to join the £200 million LIV Golf Series.
DeChambeau and Reed were not playing in the opening event but Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia were the star names in the inaugural field, with other notable participants including Englishmen Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace, and Rickie Fowler.
Where are the eight LIV Golf events?
The breakaway circuit began at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire, and now moves to the United States for three stops.
It then has two events in Bangkok and Saudi Arabia, before the tour finishes at Trump Doral in Miami at the end of October.
What is the format?
The 48-man field will play across 12 teams of four players, which was determined at a draft on June 7.
The first seven regular season events will consist of three 54-hole events, with no cut and shotgun starts, while the final event will be a four-day team matchplay knockout.
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 classed by chief executive Greg Norman as “baiter tournaments”, aiming to lure big names who have so far resisted the circuit’s overtures.
What is the prize money?
LIV Golf says the total prize purse for its eight events “will reach an unprecedented $255 million” (£204m).
The first seven regular season events will have a prize pool of $25m (£20m), with the individual winner receiving $4m (£3.2m), the last-placed finisher collecting $120,000 (£96,000) and a team event dishing out $5m (£4m).
At the season-ending eighth event, teams will compete for a share of $50m (£40m) in prize money.
How to watch
Coverage is being streamed on the organisation’s website as well as on 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 PGA Tour – who have refused to grant permission to players to appear in the rebel events, with a legal battle between the Tours and LIV Golf likely.
LIV chief executive Norman has also been criticised for heading up the breakaway circut, with its Saudi investors accused of “sportswashing” the country’s poor human rights record.
However, Norman said LIV Golf was “independent” and the Saudis were “not my bosses”. The Australian told Sky Sports: “We [LIV Golf] are independent. I do not answer to Saudi Arabia. I can categorically tell you, that’s not the case. I do not answer to MBS.”
What is the latest news?
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 that this will likely only be a brief reprieve for playing on the Saudi rebel circuit.
PGA Tour chief executive Jay Monahan acted decisively in handing out indefinite suspensions to the 17 players from his circuit who played in last week’s £20 million LIV Golf Series opener, but European counterpart Keith Pelley initially kept silent.