During a summer where every sports channel could not stop talking about the biggest drama in sports, from Kevin Durant to Deshaun Watson, one topic that has always remained at the forefront is golf. While golf typically only claims headlines four times every year at the four major events, this summer has been different. The former No. 1 ranked golfer from the 80s and 90s, Greg Norman, financed by a sovereign wealth fund from Saudi Arabia, started the LIV Golf Invitational Series in 2022.
When it was first announced, no one took it seriously. Many people have tried to compete with the major sports leagues in the United States and none have lasted. While some leagues, such as the United States Football League, lasted for several seasons, competing with the top leagues that everyone knows and loves has proven to be nearly impossible. Greg Norman did not care about that whatsoever.
Since it was first announced, several of the best players on the PGA Tour have joined, including Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, and Phil Mickelson. These players include 2022’s Open Championship winner (Smith), as well as several top-ranked golfers. If they were so prominent in the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour, why would they ever leave?
Money makes the world go round. On the PGA Tour, nothing is guaranteed except a player's endorsement money. A player has to play well and make the cut to be paid. In order to get players to join the LIV Tour, the new league offered hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed money. They will also never be cut in any tournament. For these players, the decision to join was simple.
However, problems have arisen from the PGA because they have suspended every player that has joined LIV Golf. Several players have even spoken out against Greg Norman and his tour, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. They have claimed that the PGA Tour is the only one that people should care about and players should play for. In a capitalist country, people should enjoy the competition.
The biggest problem comes from the money involved with LIV. The sovereign wealth fund that is financing the LIV Tour can be traced back to the Saudi Arabian government, which is the biggest controversy with the entire tournament. If it was financed by an American billionaire, there would not be an issue. However, people have a problem with supposedly supporting the Saudi government. When looking at other companies that Saudi Arabians have investments in, people may change their minds; for example, the Private Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia has large investments in United States staples such as Disney, Facebook, Uber, and Starbucks. Needless to say, people have been a little hypocritical in criticizing the support of the Saudi Arabian government.
Another problem that has arisen is that the PGA Tour has suddenly found millions of dollars to increase the purse for each tournament, resulting in players getting paid more. This has brought up the questions regarding the origin of this increased finances. While there could be a number of reasons, it certainly does not look good for the PGA that they suddenly have increased the purses whilst the LIV Tour has been gaining major traction.
In 2022, there have been several LIV Tour events, including one in Boston in August. So far, they have had a decent fan presence. For 2023, they have planned even more events than this year, so they are likely not going anywhere. The LIV Golf is starting to prove that as long as you are backed by enough money, you can compete with any major sports league.