EXCLUSIVE: The Saudi-backed golf series ‘have signed up two former world No1 players and Ryder Cup heroes’ ahead of its launch in England this summer
- The Saudi-backed series is claiming that it has recruited two former world No1’s
- The Ryder Cup heroes will reportedly attend the LIV Golf Invitational Series
- The series, including eight tournaments, will reportedly begin in London in June
- The Saudi tour cast a shadow over the Masters when Phil Mickelson withdrew
- Mickelson is taking a break following his comments on the Saudi-backed league
The civil war threatening to engulf golf took another bitter twist at the US Masters when it emerged that the rebel Saudi-backed golf series is claiming privately that it has recruited two former world No1 players, both Ryder Cup heroes, to its ranks as it begins the countdown to its launch in England this summer.
The backers of the breakaway Saudi series have spent the week hosting sponsors and golf executives at a sprawling mansion on the outskirts of Augusta, in competition with events organised here by the DP World Tour — formerly the European Tour — and the PGA Tour, which are fiercely opposed to the Saudi plans.
The Saudi tour, which will be known as the LIV Golf Invitational Series, had already cast a shadow over the Masters when three-time winner Phil Mickelson withdrew because of the furore that followed the publication of comments he made where he claimed the Saudis were ‘scary mother*******’ and that he had only flirted with involvement in the series to make more from the PGA Tour.
The civil war threatening to engulf golf took another bitter twist at the US Masters when it emerged that the Saudi-backed golf series had recruited two former world No1 players
The LIV Golf Invitational Series cast a shadow over the Masters when Phil Mickelson withdrew following his comments on the Saudi-backed league
What is the LIV Series?
The breakaway circuit will launch in London in June, at the Centurion Club near St Albans.
It will tee off on June 9, one week before the US Open, with a £19m purse for a 48-man field.
Seven more events will follow run by LIV Golf, going to the US (four events) Thailand and Saudi Arabia.
Those seven will each be worth £19m. A £23m prize for the top three players of the first seven events will be available.
The eighth event will be a team championship with a £38m prize — location TBC.
Each event will be richer than the four majors.
Mickelson was a conspicuous no-show at the Champions Dinner at Augusta last week, hosted by reigning champion Hideki Matsuyama. Augusta chairman Fred Ridley insisted that Mickelson had not been banned and that the decision was Mickelson’s alone.
But the tensions are impossible to ignore. The top officials of the Asian Tour are not in Augusta after the tour’s acceptance of a $300 million investment from LivGolf, the body set up to oversee the Saudi bid to become major players in the sport.
The LIV Series will have a $250m prize fund and is thought to have recruited more than 30 USPGA and European Tour professionals, with the two former world No1s leading the way.
It is believed it will attempt to pad out its numbers by targeting the cream of the world’s junior players ahead of its first event at the Centurion Golf Club in Hertfordshire on June 9.
Its main message in the series of dinners it hosted in Augusta was that it is not going away. It is expecting its series to get stronger and stronger as the world’s leading golfers see the money the initial crop of lesser players are earning and decide to join the rebel ranks.
The LivGolf events were held in the affluent West Lake area of Augusta, a few miles from the course.
‘They could not be much more obvious about parking their tanks on our lawn,’ one former European Tour executive said.
The LIV Series has still not released a list of those who will be playing in its series.