LIV Golf League commissioner Greg Norman vows the Saudi-backed series is going "full steam ahead" despite a new PGA Tour deal worth up to $3 billion with US sports team investors.
Reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm makes his LIV Golf League debut on Friday when the upstart circuit begins a third season at Mayakoba in Mexico.
Norman, in a letter to LIV staff obtained by The Golf Channel, took credit for creating the atmosphere that set up the PGA Tour deal with Strategic Sports Group (SSG) even as merger talks drag on between the PGA and DP World tours and LIV's backers, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF).
"Nothing announced by other tours or investment groups changes LIV Golf's positive trajectory or future plans," Norman wrote, according to Golf Channel on Thursday.
"This broader interest and commitment to the game and investment in its future would not have happened without the emergence of LIV Golf as an innovative force in the golf ecosystem."
The PGA Tour and PIF announced the framework agreement for a merger deal last June but have not managed to hammer out details of a final contract, including possible punishments for PGA defectors to LIV wanting to return.
While the agreement did shut down lawsuits that would have revealed details of PIF and PGA operations, nothing else has been settled.
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth said Wednesday there was no need for a merger now other than reuniting top players under one group, even though the PGA-SSG deal allows for an investment from PIF.
"We're moving full steam ahead and expanding on the incredible success we have already achieved in a very short time," Norman said. "I've never been more confident in the league, the people involved and our supporters all over the world."
Rahm said he was not worried about LIV's future or merger talks.
"There are a lot bigger people that are a lot smarter than me that are going to be worrying about that that actually have a say in it," Rahm said. "We're here to play golf, perform and whatever comes, comes."
Spain's Sergio Garcia, among the first to join LIV, welcomed fellow Masters winner and compatriot Rahm to LIV on Thursday.
"It's definitely exciting," Garcia said. "Anytime you can have a player the quality of Jon in your league, it's amazing. We're very thankful to have him here. I think it's a great addition."
- LIV format tweaks -
LIV Golf announced format changes for the new season, which includes fields of 13 teams of four plus two wildcard solo players at each event.
Each team's top three player scores will still count for the first and second rounds but all four player scores will now count in the final round of the team competition.
Tie-breakers will only be used to determine podium positions with season points for level players added together and distributed equally.
"The competition updates for 2024 reflect a natural evolution of the LIV Golf League format," LIV Golf senior vice president of competition management David Benne said.