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The brand new golf tour kicked off in London on Thursday, with followers arriving on the Centurion Membership to look at a few of the largest names within the sport play on the inaugural occasion in North London.

However what’s the LIV Golf collection, the brand new journey that threatens to shake the very foundations of the game to the core?

It’s a new tour organized by LIV Golf Investments consisting of eight occasions world wide, which kicked off in London on Thursday.

Led by former World No. 1 Greg Norman, the team-based collection runs from June to October with the objective, he says, of “comprehensively enhancing the well being {of professional} golf on a worldwide scale to assist unlock sports activities.” (sic) untapped. potential.”

It’s backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Funding Fund (PIF), a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the person behind a US intelligence report on the homicide of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman has denied his involvement in Khashoggi’s homicide.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting with the US Secretary of State in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on September 18, 2019.

The PIF has dedicated to awarding $250 million in prize cash. Every of the primary seven occasions may have a complete prize pool of $25 million, with $20 million break up between particular person gamers and the remaining $5 million shared between the highest three groups on the finish of every week.

Earlier than the primary occasion in London, the 12 groups have been introduced, in addition to their captain. On Tuesday, the captains chosen the remainder of their groups in a draft format much like the NFL and NBA drafts.

In contrast to typical golf occasions, the London occasion lasts three days, not 4, and the 48-player discipline kicks off with a tee shot, all on the identical time, in hopes of being a extra participating and eventful occasion. motion.

Competing in a conventional stroke play format, the bottom rating would be the winner.

Whereas within the first two rounds, the highest two scores will depend for every crew, within the last spherical, the highest three scores will depend, with the crew’s lowest general rating after 54 holes being named the crew winner.

For the ultimate occasion, a crew championship, the format adjustments to a four-round knockout match.

Greg Norman is all smiles on the first tee of the first day of the LIV Golf Series at the Centurion Club.

Which golfers have signed up?

The unimaginable cash on supply has attracted a mixture of golfers to join the inaugural occasion in London, of all ages, backgrounds and successes on the golf course.

Six-time Grand Slam winner Phil Mickelson and former World No. 1 Dustin Johnson are amongst these to headline the occasion, whereas different massive winners Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel additionally took half.

Ryder Cup stalwarts Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood have been additionally a part of the primary cohort to enroll, and the sector contains 18 gamers ranked within the prime 100 on this planet.

Then again, it additionally supplied a platform for different golfers who have been taking their first steps within the sport, together with 15-year-old Ratchanon Chantananuwat from Thailand.
In keeping with a number of experiences, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed would be the subsequent massive names to join the breakaway tour.
Johnson attends a press conference prior to the LIV Golf Series event at the Centurion Club.

Why is it so controversial?

The LIV Golf collection has not arrived with out query marks.

The supply of the cash, Saudi Arabia’s PIF, has led to inquiries and criticism directed at organizers and gamers over selecting to play with Saudi cash given its human rights report.

The nation has been criticized by human rights teams for years. In March, Saudi Arabia executed 81 males within the largest mass execution in a long time. Rights teams have criticized the nation for executing individuals who have been minors on the time of the crimes for which they have been convicted.

One other avenue of controversy surrounding the league is the breakaway nature of golf’s established programs.

The PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, previously the European Tour, have lengthy been the place gamers have plied their commerce on the golf calendar, exterior of the Huge 4.

However, offering cash and life steadiness points as excuses, the choice by a faction of gamers to separate as much as play within the LIV Golf collection has obtained combined reactions from their fellow tourers.

HY Flyers GC team members (from left) TK Chantananuwat of Thailand, Justin Harding of South Africa, Mickelson and USA members Chase Koepka pose for photographs during a press conference prior to the LIV Golf Series event at the Centurion Club.

What do the gamers say?

On the eve of the collection, the world’s most profitable golf occasion, the rivals have been grilled by journalists at an usually tense information convention in St Albans, England.

Mickelson was the principle focus of consideration, primarily as a result of he is without doubt one of the largest stars within the sport, but in addition as a result of this shall be his first aggressive occasion since his biographer revealed his controversial feedback in regards to the Saudi-funded occasions earlier this yr.

The six-time main winner was quoted in a 2021 interview with writer Alan Shipnuck for his upcoming e-book, “Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colourful Famous person,” as saying he would think about becoming a member of the proposed Famous person. League as a result of it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime alternative to reshape the best way the PGA Tour operates.”

Shipnuck quoted Mickelson as saying disparaging issues about Saudi Arabia’s human rights report and claiming that the dominion killed journalist Khashoggi.

In his opening response at Wednesday’s information convention, when requested in regards to the human rights report of the nation that supplied funding for the corporate, Mickelson appeared to have regrets.

“I do not condone human rights violations in any respect,” he mentioned repeatedly.

Mickelson attends a press conference prior to the LIV Golf Series event at the Centurion Club.

Johnson, the highest-ranked participant within the competitors at 15 on this planet, resigned his PGA Tour membership, saying Tuesday: “I do not need to play for the remainder of my life, this offers me the chance to do what I need to do. “

Throughout his press convention, Europe’s Ryder Cup stalwart Graeme McDowell was additionally requested about Khashoggi’s homicide.

“All of us agree that that was reprehensible. Nobody goes to argue with that truth, however we’re golfers. We aren’t politicians.”

“If Saudi Arabia needs to make use of the sport of golf as a method to get to the place they need to be, we’re proud to assist them on that journey, utilizing the sport of golf and the abilities now we have to assist develop the game.”

What about those that do not take part?

The primary LIV occasion is held on the Centurion Membership. That and the PGA Tour’s Canadian Open are happening nearly concurrently and it is the primary head-to-head assembly between the 2 excursions.

The Centurion’s $25 million purse is sort of triple the $8.7 million Canadian Open purse. Defending his title in Canada shall be Rory McIlroy, the world No. 8.

“Any determination you make in your life that’s purely about cash normally does not find yourself going the suitable approach,” McIlroy mentioned on Wednesday, as reported by Reuters.

“Clearly cash is a deciding think about a variety of issues on this world, but when it is purely about cash, it isn’t, it by no means appears to go your approach.”

By way of star energy, the Canadian Open will simply prime Centurion’s lineup. Among the many headliners in Toronto shall be World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas.

“Folks have the suitable to decide on what they need,” Thomas mentioned. “I do not dislike DJ now. I do not assume he is a foul man. I am not going to deal with him any completely different.”

“You may have the suitable to decide on what you need.

“Now, I am dissatisfied and I want he and others hadn’t, however that is his determination.”

What does it imply for the way forward for golf?

It’s unclear what this can imply for the way forward for golf and the place gamers will select to ply their commerce sooner or later.

Most of the gamers affected by the ban — Mickelson, Westwood and Poulter — are within the twilight of their careers, maybe decreasing the severity of the suspension.

Some gamers, together with Johnson, Garcia and Kevin Na, relinquished their PGA Tour standing earlier than play started Thursday in London.

However for the six-time main winner, Mickelson, who has already earned lifetime standing on the PGA Tour, questions his long-term dedication to the tour. He mentioned at his information convention Wednesday earlier than the inaugural LIV Golf Collection occasion that he did not need to surrender his lifetime PGA Tour membership, saying, “I’ve earned it and I do not plan on simply giving it up.”

Johnson and Mickelson walk off the first tee after playing their shots during the first round of the inaugural LIV Golf Series event at the Centurion Club.

And for the younger expertise within the recreation, the suspension affords a conundrum.

The PGA Tour is the highest golf circuit on this planet proper now and is due to this fact seen as the head. Nonetheless, the brand new massive cash tour affords a major revenue alternative for players world wide, notably rising expertise.

Do youthful gamers determine to decide to the LIV Golf collection, thus ruining their probabilities of taking part in on the PGA Tour, or do they stick with the ‘conventional’ route and play on the PGA Tour and probably cut back their incomes capabilities?

The DP World Tour, the game’s second-largest present tour, has but to announce any potential participant sanctions. When contacted by CNN, she mentioned she “had no remark” on the LIV Golf collection.

As for golf’s 4 majors, gamers’ appearances within the LIV Golf collection have thrown their participation in them into disarray as nicely.

Though subsequent week’s US Open has mentioned gamers are free to play in the event that they qualify, subsequent month’s Open Championship at St. Andrew’s has but to make a public determination.

Shortly after the announcement, LIV Golf issued a robust response, calling the suspension “vindictive”.

“Right this moment’s announcement from the PGA Tour is vindictive and deepens the divide between the Tour and its members,” he mentioned.

“It’s regarding that the Tour, a corporation devoted to creating alternatives for golfers to play, is the entity that forestalls golfers from taking part in. Actually, this isn’t the final phrase on this topic. The period of free company is starting and We’re proud to have a full discipline of gamers becoming a member of us in London and past.”

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