Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter has predicted that more of the world’s top players will sign up to the LIV Golf Invitational Series, the £200m super league prototype which starts today at Centurion Club in Hertfordshire.
Poulter, six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and former world No1 Dustin Johnson are among a 48-man field for the much-anticipated curtain-raiser to the new circuit, which is rivalling the PGA Tour for the sport’s biggest names.
Bryson DeChambeau is believed to have committed to the next event in the series, which takes place at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon later this month. Fellow US stars Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler are also reported to be close to joining.
“I definitely see other top players watching on this week and wanting to be a part of it,” said Poulter.
“There’s a huge investment coming into the game of golf and sport in general. Definitely other players will be looking in with interest this week, and I think they will want to come and see what it’s all about.”
LIV Golf, which has been bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to the tune of $2bn, has succeeded in luring a clutch of high-profile players by offering bigger rewards than those on offer on the PGA Tour.
LIV pay package
The first seven tournaments in the LIV Golf Invitational Series are worth $25m (£20m) each, roughly twice that of a major. The winner stands to pocket $4m, while even the last in the field will receive $120,000.
Leading players such as Mickelson and Johnson are also reported to have been offered nine-figure fees to sign up to be the stars of the circuit, where they will act as team captains in an innovative format.
LIV Golf events have team as well as individual prizes, with the franchises set to take on greater significance when the series evolves into a fully-fledged league – a new concept in elite golf – in two years’ time.
“The team format has always been something which most people have always gravitated to, and had their best time on the golf course,” added Poulter, who is best known for his gritty displays for Europe at the Ryder Cup.
“It is a vast sum of money, but it’s a great platform to be able to build the game of golf and give back at the same time.”
LIV Golf chief Greg Norman hopes to transform the sport’s business model with the circuit, where tournaments have been shortened to three rounds with no cut and shotgun starts, whereby all players play at once, with television audiences in mind.
Norman believes the super league concept can emulate cricket’s Indian Premier League, where new franchises now sell for close to $1bn, and make the players who sign up far richer than previous generations.
Twelve team identities, including names and logos, were finally revealed on Tuesday night shortly before the 12 captains for the first tournament selected their team-mates via a draft held behind closed doors.
“I like the concept of LIV Golf, I think it’s exactly what golf needs,” said three-time European order of merit winner Lee Westwood, who will play on Poulter’s Majesticks team.
“If you’re asking me to say where I think golf needs to go, it needs to be faster, it needs to be team format, it needs all the people out at the same time.
“One of the funnest days of the year for me watching TV is watching the match-play where there are a lot of games out at the same time, a lot of action, not too many commercials.”
Justin Thomas, who won his second major at the US PGA Championship this month, said he was “disappointed” that Johnson and other high-profile players had agreed to play LIV Golf events, despite the risk of a ban from the PGA Tour.
But he added: “It doesn’t make you a bad person. I wish he and others wouldn’t have done it but that’s their decision. Guys can do as they wish.”
|Team Name||Team Members|
|4 ACES GC||Dustin Johnson (captain), Shaun Norris, Oliver Bekker, Kevin Yuan|
|CLEEKS GC||Martin Kaymer (captain), Pablo Larrazabal, JC Ritchie, Ian Snyman|
|CRUSHERS GC||Peter Uihlein (captain), Richard Bland, Phachara Khongwatmai, Travis Smyth|
|FIREBALLS GC||Sergio Garcia (captain), David Puig (Am), James Piot (Am), Jediah Morgan|
|HY FLYERS GC||Phil Mickelson (captain), Justin Harding, TK Chantananuwat (Am), Chase Koepka|
|IRON HEADS GC||Kevin Na (captain), Sadom Kaewkanjana, Hideto Tanihara, Viraj Madappa|
|MAJESTICKS GC||Ian Poulter (captain), Lee Westwood, Sam Horsfield, Laurie Canter|
|NIBLICKS GC||Graeme McDowell (captain), Bernd Wiesberger, Turk Pettit, Oliver Fisher|
|PUNCH GC||Wade Orsmby (captain), Matt Jones, Ryosuke Kinoshita, Blake Windred|
|SMASH GC||Sihwan Kim (captain), Scott Vincent, Jinichiro Kozuma, Itthipat Buranatanyarat|
|STINGER GC||Louis Oosthuizen (captain), Hennie du Plessis, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace|
|TORQUE GC||Talor Gooch (captain), Hudson Swafford, Adrian Otaegui, Andy Ogletree|