For the past three days, LIV Golf hosted its final tournament of the year—a 54-hole weekend in Boston with no cuts and a guaranteed payout to all players who participate. American
Dustin Johnson won the event in a playoff, earning $4 million in prize money.
LIV is a well-financed startup tour competing with the PGA Tour, which sanctions the bulk of pro golf in the country for more than 100 years. LIV is backed by the Public Invest Fund, led by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
There have been many twists since spring for the fledgling circuit—but it represents a major financial play, pitting a well-established professional sports organization with a storied past against a startup with seemingly unlimited financing. Here is a breakdown.
The new LIV Tour has pulled many golfers away from the PGA Tour with promises of hefty checks.
June 6 – The first player to defect from the PGA to join LIV was Phil Mickelson. He was reportedly offered $200 million to make the jump to the new tour, a big number considering he only made $94 million in his career with the PGA.
June 7 – The weekend’s winner and former number-one golfer in the world Dustin Johnson jumped on—signing a four-year contract with LIV reportedly worth $125 million.
Other big names followed immediately… Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Charl Schwartzel, Lee Westwood, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Abraham Ancer, Matthew Wolff, Paul Casey, and Henrik Stenson.
July 22 – Then LIV secured someone who wasn’t there to swing clubs. Highly popular golf commentator David Feherty joined the action. Shortly after, the league snatched two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson.
August 1 – LIV tried to obtain golf legend Tiger Woods, but he declined. LIV CEO Greg Norman said Woods turned down a nearly $800-million deal.
Woods voiced his distaste for the players leaving the PGA. “I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position,” he said.
August 3 – Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and nine other LIV golfers filed an anti-trust complaint against the PGA Tour. The lawsuit comes after the players were suspended from the PGA Tour over their involvement with the fledgling tour. The golfers were denied by a judge, giving LIV its first defeat.
August 24 – PGA announces new changes that will go into effect in the 2023 season. New structural changes include ranking “top players,” more players and money for the Player Impact Program, and a set number of tournaments. “I laugh at what the PGA Tour players have come up with,” says golfer Lee Westwood, who was suspended from the PGA circuit when he signed on with LIV. “It’s just a copy of what LIV is doing.”
August 30 – Most recently, LIV snagged the number two golfer. Cameron Smith left the PGA. Smith is the highest-ranked player to leave the PGA for LIV thus far—after winning The Open Championship in July, the Australian had been refusing to confirm or deny whether he was jumping ship.