British Open champion Cameron Smith is a two-time winner Dustin Johnson are among the big names as the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf League opens its 2023 tournament on Friday.
The 54-hole series offering a $25 million prize pool has expanded to 14 stops in seven countries, starting at Mexico’s Mayakoba resort.
Several big names were lured to LIV Golf from the US PGA Tour, leading to a PGA ban that led to a court fight starting in January 2024.
The high point of Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroyTiger Woods and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler were among those who stayed out of the PGA because the split in the game brought chaos, but now LIV players are still able to play in the honorable if they deserve it.
LIV Golf continues to struggle to earn world-class ratings, but new players entering the 2023 season can see the best talent from LIV and senior players welcome only four, add to the frenzy in April’s Masters showdown at Augusta National.
Johnson won the LIV Golf individual crown last year after hitting a bogey in Boston with an eagle on the first playoff hole to lead the team. an all-American with 4Aces in the team championship.
Australian Smith, the 2022 PGA Player of the Year, won his first major championship in St. Andrews but jumped at LIV Golf after the US PGA’s Tour Championship.
Smith captured the Chicago Championship in September in his second LIV start and in November he won his third Australian PGA Championship as LIV players remained eligible for the DP. World Tour in the midst of the court battle.
Critics of LIV Golf are a proposal by Saudi Arabia, which supports the tournament through its Public Investment Fund, to “play” its human rights.
But the commissioner of LIV Golf, Greg Norman, sees the league bringing the game to a younger audience with faster tee shots, on-site concerts and more interaction between the stars and the crowd. be happy.
“In less than a year, LIV Golf has reinvented the professional game and laid the foundation for the future of the game,” said Norman.
“Our league is starting to build relationships with new people all over the world. Major champions, current and future Hall of Famers, and up-and-coming stars are all interested in building this new standards for international competition as a sport. to grow for the next generation.”
PGA officials have made changes to combat handicaps, including the construction of higher facilities and prize money increased to $20 million over nine rounds and $25 million at the Players Championship.
LIV Golf, however, has 13 major winners, including Johnson, Smith, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel.
The schedule includes stops in April in Adelaide and Singapore, events on back-to-back weekends in early July at Spain’s Valderrama and England’s Centurion courses and the November season-ender in Saudi Arabia.
The US events include three in classes held by former US President Donald Trump — May at Trump National near Washington, August at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey, and in Doral in October .
Other American stops include Tucson and Orlando in late March and early April, Tulsa in May, Greenbrier in August and Chicago in September.
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