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Curtain Up For LIV 2.0: This Year Norman’s Saudi League Has to Prove Itself

The stages have been chosen, the cast is set, tomorrow the curtain will rise at the Mexican El Camaleon Golf Club for the second season in the parallel universe of golf, which will henceforth be known as the LIV Golf League. The key data are known: 14 events , twelve teams, 405 million dollars in prize money , a few new players – Pieters, Pereira etc. In addition, an injured Martin Kaymer , Brooks Koepka who is said to be homesickand the loudspeakers from Greg Norman, the bandmaster of the competing circuit, who once again blasted: “LIV Golf has given professional golf a new lease of life and laid the foundation for the future of the sport. We build on this and develop golf for future generations with the team format.”

Greg Norman, head of the LIV Golf Series.  (Photo: Getty)

Reed brings first general sponsor

noted. Nevertheless, questions remain. And as is so often the case, the real hot topics are hidden in the leaflet, risks and side effects. What is the contract with “CW Television Network” worth; with a station that has so far produced rather shallow entertainment, but at least addresses a young target group and is now supposed to cover the US market for LIV, which has already come to terms internationally with stations such as Servus TV, and doesn’t even have to pay a rights fee for it? Or: What does the new general sponsor EasyPost, an American logistics and trading company brought in by Patrick Reed, bring?

And logically afterwards: What about the return of investment for the Saudis and their Public Investment Fund PIF, after Norman already spent 784 million dollars on the 2022 season, which was hastily launched as a beta version after Phil Mickelson’s devastating “Scary Motherfuckers” statements could? In any case, last year, according to the LIV lawyers in the legal correspondence of the antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, there was “zero proceeds”. The PGA Tour has damaged the LIV brand and it has cost hundreds of millions of dollars to stop it, they say.

Well, that’s how it is if you do the math without the innkeeper, but an interesting twist of the facts. In any case, this year LIV 2.0 (or 1.1, depending on how you count) has to prove itself, conveying prospectiveness and a pecuniary perspective to its backers.

Self-portrayal as a global player and sportswashing

As is well known, the Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and his economic agent Yasir Al-Rumayyan donated two billion dollars of start-up financing as start-up aid for ” Project Wedge” – after McKinsey’s consultants had analyzed that in view of the encrusted Structures of the establishment, its aging and self-centered string pullers and the generally aging golfer community, there is certainly scope for an alternative arrangement, which the murderous monarchy of Riyadh is now exploiting for self-portrayal as a global player in and in golf and for sports washing.

Like an economic thriller

The way there is multifaceted, full of volts and missed opportunities for the PGA Tour and DP World Tour (formerly European Tour). It ranges from the (unrequited) offers of a Premier Golf League to the previous monopolists to the irreconcilability between Norman with his Rochus on the PGA Tour and their “Commish” Jay Monahan. With the narrative morality versus mammon, it runs like a deep chasm through the entire golf scene, separating players like system voice Rory McIlroy and defector Sergio Garcia, who were once friends. It also reads in parts like an economic thriller, has been presented here many times and – for those interested in the background – is retraced, for example, by the colleagues from “Bunkered” in an excellent summary.

Pieters and Pereira attract more fans?

Keyword two billion: With the hefty increase in seasonal prize money, the organization and logistics costs for an extended calendar of events and the next tranches of the guarantee fees for Dustin Johnson and Co. that are due, Norman should be able to cover the budget of his boastful and opulent, even ostentatiously decadent performance of “Golf. But Louder” at the end of the year. Especially since he’s still on the established tourscause a bit of a commotionwants to acquire more players because he has not landed any real hits with the newcomers for 2023. And: Because of a Thomas Pieters or Mito Pereira, there probably won’t be another fan coming to the fairway.

Franchise concept should bring return of investment

At the beginning of November, when the last putt fell in the final chord at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club – a “final at home” for MBS and Al-Rumayyan – the Saudi financiers cash in on their campaign and examine the further potential of the project. Your will alone decides about weal and woe. A lot depends on how the franchise concept develops over the course of the year: with teams that market themselves and manage in the medium term without PIF support, but rather stand on their own two feet economically through investors, sponsors and merchandising.

That’s why “DJ” asked to cancel the contract with clothing supplier Adidas, he wants to create his own brand with the emblem of his “4Aces” as a logo. That’s why Australia’s Cameron Smith and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen formed compatriot teams, and that’s why Bryson DeChambeau brought Indian Anirban Lahiri to his crushers. They all target their respective home markets or the Asian subcontinent. It’s the basics of franchise business.

“Full Swing” exposes “Growing-the-Game” babble

The development in this regard will always be more exciting than the sporting “competition”. In 2023, too, the LIV Golf League will remain an operetta league with ultimately no wages, because in closed society. In any case, as long as there is no official transfer market in the franchise system. Until then it stays with “hire and fire”.

Ahead of this season alone, seven “extras” were eliminated in favor of more notable cast members: Wade Ormsby, Laurie Canter – who has yet to stand in for Kaymer – Sadom Kaewkanjana, Phachara Khongwatmai, Hennie Du Plessis, Adrian Otaegui and Turk Pettit. They all changed sides in the hope of a bright future and now eke out an existence on the Asian Tour at best. There, the former US amateur champion Andy Ogletree, who was chased after the London premiere last year, has just won for the second time.

Incidentally, “Netflix” deserves the credit of finally and widely effective having unmasked the “Growing-the-Game” twaddle. In episode five of “Full Swing,” Dustin Johnson frankly admits he was tempted to make a lot more money with less golf. “Less work for more cash, it’s that simple,” says the two-time major winner: “If you refuse, something is wrong with you.”

If you can see it that way, it is certainly also legitimate in principle – although the “Washington Post” never tires of pointing out that the Saudi murder coal is “bloody money”. Hardly anyone cares: “Can you ever have enough money?” Ian Poulter also asks in “Full Swing” as a purely rhetorical question. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. Which was to be proved.

Source: Golf Post