Yesterday was an interesting one for the opening round of LIV Golf’s inaugural invitational event in London.
Minutes after the first tee shot at the Centurion Club, it was announced in a memo from Commissioner Jay Monahan that the PGA Tour was suspending 14 players who defected to LIV Golf. Then, LIV Golf responded with its own spicy statement on Twitter.
Later, after a first round in which 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel shot -5 to lead the 48-man field, there was an incident between event security and a reporter. The author of Phil Mickelson’s biography – Alan Shipnuck – was removed from the lefty’s press conference.
Shipnuck tweeted that “a couple of neckless security dudes just physically removed me from Phil Mickelson’s press conference, saying they were acting on orders from their boss.”
A bit later, Shipnuck’s media company – Fire Pit Collective – quote tweeted his original post with a video showing the scene as it unfolded.
Shipnuck then texted Greg Norman – who is LIV Golf’s chief executive – and explained what had happened. Norman replied: “Did not hear. Thanks for letting me know.” But that turned out to be a lie. Norman appeared in the background of the video, watching with a shark’s eye as Shipnuck was removed from the press conference.
Is LIV Golf the Real Deal?
It was likely because in Shipnuck’s book, a certain quote from Mickelson put LIV Golf in a negative light. Mickelson acknowledged that the Saudis – whose $2 billion in funding essentially backs the new venture – had a role in killing Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi and called them “scary motherf—ers.”
The fireworks did not slant Shipnuck’s coverage, in which he said the day “has to be considered a monumental achievement” for LIV Golf. He concluded the piece with “this renegade tour is the real thing.”
Mickelson – who, along with Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson, is probably one of LIV Golf’s most notable participants – shot -1 for the day.
An Overview of LIV Golf
The main reason why LIV Golf events are appealing to players is the money. There are eight events scheduled from June to October, with the overall purse of each one at $25 million. In total, there are 48 players split between 12 four-man teams. The top three teams will split $5 million and then the remaining $20 million will be divided individually – with the winner earning $4 million.
Unlike PGA Tour events, there is no mid-tournament cut – so even the last-place finisher receives $120,000. Membership in the PGA Tour also comes with other benefits like pensions and health insurance. But players in recent years have challenged the notion that players who do not make the cut would earn zilch for their work throughout the week.
While LIV Golf tees off for 54 holes at the Centurion Club in London, the PGA Tour is hosting the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto.