Norman-led Saudi golf league announces schedule, no players
PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Greg Norman and his LIV Golf Investments announced an eight-tournament schedule Wednesday that will offer $255 million for the total prize fund and a format that includes both individual and team play.
Missing from the announcement was the names of who would be playing, which would affect their PGA Tour membership.
LIV Golf Investments, funded primarily by the Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth fund, said it is providing more than $400 million in “seed money” to launch the LIV Golf Invitational series, which blends 54-hole stroke play with a team concept.
Seven events would have a $25 million purse — $20 million for medal play ($4 million for the winner) and $5 million for the top three teams.
The PGA Tour just concluded its richest tournament, with a $20 million purse at The Players Championship, won by Cameron Smith. The tour pays 18% of the prize money to the winner.
The schedule for the Saudi-backed rival league includes four tournaments in the United States. One is at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey, which originally was to host the PGA Championship this year until the PGA of America voted to move it after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
The others would be Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Oregon, which previously hosted the U.S. Women’s Open; Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago, which once hosted a Solheim Cup; and The International, a private club about 30 miles west of Boston.
The series is to start June 9-11 at Centurion Golf Club in London — one week before the U.S. Open outside Boston — and conclude with a team championship at the end of October.
“Our events are truly additive to the world of golf,” Norman said in a news release. “We have done our best to create a schedule that allows players to play elsewhere, while still participating in our events. I believe players will increasingly make progress in achieving their right to play where they want. We will help in any way possible and will provide golfers with opportunities to achieve their full potential.”
Players who join the PGA Tour are required to play a minimum of 15 tournaments. According to the regulations, tour members are not allowed to play another tournament when eligible for a PGA Tour event held the same week without a conflicting event release from the commissioner.
However, the regulations say conflicting event releases will not be approved for tournaments held in North America. Three of the LIV Golf Invitational tournaments would be opposite PGA Tour events, the John Deere Classic (July 1-3), Rocket Mortgage Classic (July 29-31) and an event in September as the tour starts its new season.
PGA Tour spokesman Joel Schuchmann said the tour’s position hasn’t changed from Commissioner Jay Monahan’s comment last week that the tour was “moving on” from talk of a Saudi league the last five months.
The top 10 players in the world have said they are staying put on the PGA Tour.
“We have too much momentum and too much to accomplish to be consistently distracted by rumors of other golf leagues and their attempts to disrupt our players, our partners, and most importantly our fans from enjoying the tour and the game we all love so much,” Monahan said.
Norman’s plan appeared to suffer a significant series of blows last month when Phil Mickelson was quoted as saying the Saudis are “scary mother-(expletives) to get involved with” and that he was only interested as way to get leverage against the PGA Tour.
Mickelson said he is taking time away to work on his priorities. He hasn’t played since Feb. 6 at the Saudi International.
Norman said the first year of the series would have a maximum of 48 players on 12 four-man teams determined by a draft the week of the event. After seven events, the leading three players will get $30 million from a prize fund, while the team event will offer $50 million.
Along with not stating who has signed up, there was no mention of a television component.
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