Driven by limitless money, the new LIV Golf series raises a lot of questions. Not only because it wants to reinvent the game of golf and the way tournaments are organized, but also, above all, because its players seem willful about their source of income.
Posted at 7:00 am
The rewards are amazing. Nearly $300 million in prize money will be offered across eight tournaments. Not to mention the exorbitant sums that would be given to star players like Dustin Johnson or Phil Mickelson just for participating in competitions. Either way, they’ll get $150 million to $200 million just for showing up.
Money is the main driver of this new league which, for the time being, has yet to establish itself.
It’s not the fact that the series competes in the PGA that is most concerning. Rather the players, extremely wealthy, ignore the tradition and institution the PGA Tour represents to go and evolve in a circuit whose credibility depends on dirty money.
In fact, the LIV Golf Series is funded and backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which is effectively the financial arm of the Saudi government. A government that mocks human rights day after day, according to various international organizations. Women’s rights, workers’ rights, and immigrants’ rights. Freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly. The right to health, the right to privacy and the right to self-defense in court. This is the money that will be put in the pockets of 48 golfers on the ring.
From a government that has made corruption a habit and is feeding off the non-renewable energy industry to fill its coffers beyond the ability to shut it down as it overflows. According to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, the Saudi fund has assets equivalent to $620 billion.
Since the PGA is an association and not a league, players are members, not employees. So they are free to do whatever they want.
And then, it is the social conscience that knows where the money is coming from. […] “They have to be comfortable sleeping on their pillow at night with the fact that they don’t really know where their money is coming from,” explains Johan Benson, Le Mirage professional and analyst at RDS.
He remembers that political hoaxes have never prevented the world’s major sporting events from landing in controversial countries. The Olympics have been held in China and Russia, the next FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar, and there is the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia.
“Because it’s an eight-champion event, backed, and competing with the PGA Tour, suddenly the money looks a lot dirtier. However, there’s nothing new and the athletes go to Saudi Arabia for a long time, even if human rights are not respected,” he says. Jean-Sebastien Legari, analyst at RDS and 91.9 Sports.
If a lot of players turn to the LIV Golf Series for a financial issue, it is undoubtedly because they are unhappy with the current offering on the PGA Tour.
However, golfers should not be pitied. The vast majority make a very good living and most of them are millionaires. However, what annoys golfers is that their image is used for marketing purposes by the PGA. Their faces are on tickets, posters, and cereal boxes without being able to take advantage of them. Thus, the arrival of a new circuit forces the circuit to adapt.
The PGA Tour will have to look in the mirror and improve on some of the things players have long complained about, such as media representation and branding. It is not normal for them to be able to use their image as they want without paying them.
Johan Benson, Le Mirage Professional and Analyst at RDS
To keep players happy, the PGA has created the Players Impact Program, which provides a reward for players who positively impact the sport and industry of golf. This program was born in 2021, around the same time as the beginnings of the LIV Golf Series.
The FedEx Cup bag has also been improved. The season winner will receive $18 million, an increase of $3 million over last year’s Patrick Cantlay reward. The total portfolio will increase from $60 million to $75 million.
The LIV Golf Series has yet to crown its first winner, but it has already had its share of ramifications and ramifications. It’s still too early to predict whether it’s a real threat, but according to Jean-Sebastien Legari, the PGA Tour will still be the standard: “The historical roots of golf are very strong and very deep. PGA is tied to the big events and I think it will win in the end. That’s where it happens.” This is where we find the best players and the biggest events.”
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