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After months of speculation, the inaugural Saudi-backed LIV Golf event takes place this weekend to open the breakaway series that threatens to change the game as we know it. Day 1 saw some of the new competition’s biggest names draw a crowd and Charl Schwartzel hit five under par to take an early lead.
Phil Mickelson became the latest player to officially confirm his entry at the first tournament at Centurion Club in St Albans this week, with the six-time major champion set to end his four-month break from the sport following his explosive comments about the PGA Tour and the breakaway spearheaded by Greg Norman.
Mickelson drew criticism and apologised after admitting to a journalist that he was aware of Saudi Arabia’s “horrible record on human rights” but was prepared to use LIV Golf as leverage to gain power and influence with the PGA Tour.
The PGA Tour have responded by suspending players from their own events, leading Ian Poulter to quickly appeal.
LIV Golf also will bring new competition rules as well as bigger prize funds for the field. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is LIV Golf?
Reports of a new breakaway league first emerged in 2019 but gathered pace last year as two-time Open champion Greg Norman became the face of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series as its chief executive.
With Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund financing the series, there is a clear link to the Saudi Arabia government, whose record on human rights has been criticised by groups such as Amnesty International.
But what for a long time was considered to be a bargaining threat to the traditional PGA and DP World Tours and nothing more took shape as the LIV Golf Series, which also features new competition rules and what tournament organisers say is an “exciting” new format.
What are the rules?
LIV Golf Series events will be played over three days and 54 holes, rather than the traditional four-day events with 72 holes. There won’t be a cut, either, so the 48 players who start the week will play all three rounds.
There will also be individual and team competitions within the same event. The individual competition will be won by the player who shoots the lowest score over 54 holes, as normal.
The team competition, however, will be made up of 12 teams of four players, with team captains selecting the teams using a ‘snake draft’ ahead of the opening event at Centurion Club. Teams will also have their own unique names and logos.
In terms of scoring, the best two individual scores will count towards the team’s overall total across the opening two rounds, with the best three scores combining on the third and final round. The team with the lowest overall score at the end of the third round will be the winner.
When does it start and is it on TV?
The second round kicks off with a shotgun start at 2:15pm on Thursday 10 June.
LIV Golf has yet to be picked up by a major broadcaster in the UK.
However, the action will be live streamed for free on the LIV Golf YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Where is the first event taking place?
LIV Golf London is being played out at Centurion Club, between Hemel Hempstead and St. Albans in Hertfordshire.
How will the season work?
The LIV Golf London event at Centurion Club is the first of seven ‘regular season’ events to take place in its inaugural year, with the season-ending team championship closing the year as the final event of the season.
The team championship will see all 12 teams seeded and a four-day knockout tournament will be played using match play scoring to determine the winner, with a championship match taking place on the final day.
An individual champion will also be crowned using points accumulated over the seven ‘regular season’ events.
LIV Golf London, Centurion Club - June 9-11
LIV Golf Portland, Pumpkin Ridge - June 30 - July 2
LIV Golf Bedminster, Trump National - July 29-31
LIV Golf Boston, Greater Boston - September 2-4
LIV Golf Chicago, Rich Harvest Farms - September 16-18
LIV Golf Bangkok, Stonehill - October 7-9
LIV Golf Jeddah, Royal Greens - October 14-16
LIV Golf Miami, Trump National Doral - October 27-30
What is the prize fund?
Each regular season event will have a prize fund of $25m - every player in the field receives a cut, with a guaranteed $4m for first and $120,000 for last place. Of the $25m, $5m will be split between the top three teams.
The top three players in the overall individual championship will receive a split of $30m, with the overall champion taking $18m, the runner-up receiving $8m and third place getting $4m.
The season-ending team championship has a prize fund of $50m, with the winning team splitting $16m and the team who finishes last receiving $1m. Each player receives a 25 per cent cut.
For comparison, the winner of the PGA Championship, one of golf’s four majors, receives $3m out of a total prize fund of $15m.
Who is playing?
The biggest names include Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel and Kevin Na.
Full player list
The full list is as follows alongside their current world ranking:
Dustin Johnson (13)
Louis Oosthuizen (20)
Kevin Na (33)
Talor Gooch (35)
Sergio Garcia (54)
Pablo Larrazabal (65)
Richard Bland (66)
Matt Jones (68)
Shaun Norris (69)
Phil Mickelson (71)
Sam Horsfield (72)
Lee Westwood (74)
Ryo Kinoshita (87)
Ian Poulter (89)
Bernd Wiesberger (t-90)
Hudson Swafford (t-90)
Oliver Bekker (93)
Jinichiro Kozuma (103)
Scott Vincent (109)
Justin Harding (111)
Laurie Canter (114)
Branden Grace (118)
Charl Schwartzel (120)
Sadom Kaewkanjana (125)
Hennie Du Plessis (128)
Phachara Khongwatmai (133)
Sihwan Kim (138)
JC Ritchie (154)
Adrian Otaegui (162)
Hideto Tanihara (173)
Martin Kaymer (210)
Jediah Morgan (235)
Blake Windred (250)
TK Chantananuwat (272)
Wade Ormsby (276)
Peter Uihlein (319)
Graeme McDowell (376)
Turk Petit (706)
Oliver Fisher (979)
Andy Ogletree (1,324)
Chase Koepka (1,543)
David Puig (1,706)
James Piot (1,731)