LIV Golf series rebels swing into action as the rift widens

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·3-min read
LIV Golf series rebels swing into action as the rift widens
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Golf’s new dawn began today at Centurion Club in St Albans, with the split in the sport set to become ever wider.

This is the first of eight Saudi-backed LIV Golf events in 2022 — and the series has already caused massive fractures in the game.

Star names from either side of the Atlantic have signed up for the event, including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, as well as European Ryder Cup stalwarts Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.

And now American trio Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler are set to give the nascent series further momentum by adding their names to the rebel stars taking part in the second event on the inaugural calendar before the week is out.

DeChambeau had reportedly told PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan at the start of this week that he had no intention to play in the next LIV Golf event in Portland next month.

But the big-hitting American is now set to follow Johnson and Mickelson by making an abrupt U-turn and joining LIV. His announcement as their newest star recruit is anticipated before the 48-man field packs up at Centurion on Saturday.

Reed, no less divisive a figure than his countryman on the American tour, has also agreed terms on a deal approaching nine figures, with Fowler another whose head has apparently now been turned by the riches on offer.

LIV Golf are becoming increasingly big players in a sport previously dominated by the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.

Already, they have pledged £200million in prize money across eight events, with a further £1.6billion ready to be invested from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

There have been accusations it is the regime’s latest attempt at sportswashing, following on from high-profile boxing fights to horse racing and the buyout of Newcastle.

Players have repeatedly been asked about the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the execution of 81 people in a single day in March. Most have responded with a similar refrain, hoping that the game of golf can be a “force of good”.

 (PA)
(PA)

The series has further unified already strong ties between the PGA and DP World Tours, and both look set to make their positions clear to the rebels in the coming weeks. The PGA Tour have threatened lifetime bans, with Johnson, Garcia and Kevin Na quick to negate that threat by resigning from the Tour altogether.

Some players remain steadfastly against joining LIV Golf, with Rory McIlroy perhaps the most ardently outspoken against it.

When speaking last night he said he was hopeful the European stalwarts would not face a Ryder Cup ban for their decision to jump ship, but he was also adamant they had made a mistake.

“It’s boat-loads of cash and it’s money up front,” he said. “For some guys that’s really, really enticing. I totally get it. I think they’re thinking very short term. “I think when you make a decision that’s purely financial, I just think that there needs to be more that goes into that decision than just thinking about what money is being earned.

“But, look, everyone has to do what’s right for themselves and, if they have made that decision that playing in the LIV tour is right for them, then who are we to say otherwise, I guess.

“Everyone can do what they want to do. And I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I feel like what I’m doing is the right thing for me. I’m happy I’m here in Canada this week and excited to get playing and sort of playing in a golf tournament and not just following all the drama on Twitter.”

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