Golf: a dissident Super League, financed with Saudi funds, sows the storm

Golf: a dissident Super League, financed with Saudi funds, sows the storm

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The ball came out like a Tiger Woods swing, at its peak. In announcing on Sunday, June 5, that he would be joining the LIV Golf Invitational Series, Phil Mickelson threw a cobblestone into the fairways, even if it meant creating holes himself. This competition is in fact a parallel circuit to the one made by the legend of the greatest golfers.

The duller greens trembled. This time, the operation seems launched. In gestation for several years, what is this “monster” that is revolutionizing one of the most compartmentalized sports on the planet? Behind the project hides a man: Greg Norman. There is also a lot of money, that of a public investment fund in Saudi Arabia. The latter He has already recently bought the English club Newcastle.

Former golf star, winner of two Majors and admired by all for the purity of his swing, Norman challenges two ancient institutions, the PGA Tour and the European Tour. The bet is bold, but the nicknamed “the great white shark” knows that he has unparalleled financial power to overturn the table. Although one suspects it, the shark advances in turbulent waters.

“The arrival of the LIV was done in a brutal way and puts traditional circuits at risk“, believes Ludovic Pont. The editor-in-chief of golf magazine does not necessarily see this project with good eyes, in particular “because of the very complicated geopolitical situation in Saudi Arabia.”

Ludovic Pont is also afraid of seeing golf distorted by the proposed format. “LIV tournaments will be played without a ‘cut’, they will feel more like big exhibitions than real competitions”, he continues. In addition, the specialist mentions the amounts offered to players: “The last of each of these tournaments will pocket a guaranteed €120,000…”

On March 16, LIV used its finest iron to strike a blow by unveiling its calendar dates. The height tournaments (one in England, four in the United States, one in Thailand, one in Saudi Arabia and the last one in a location to be determined) will be endowed with 25 million dollars each (about 23 million euros) for the participants. This is more than double compared to the endowments of the richest classic competitions. Importantly, the dates overlap with these. In short, the clash is inevitable.

“We must not forget that without the PGA Tour or the European Tour there would not be all these champions that the LIV wants to snatch”is carried away by Pascal Grizot, president of the French Golf Federation (FFG). “It’s disregarding all the substantive work that these agencies have done upstream.”

“The Saudis forget that golf is a traditional sport, based on codes. Some people think that money can break these codes, but I think that is a big mistake.”

Pascal Grizot, President of the French Golf Federation

on franceinfo: sport

A great moment of hesitation descended on clubhouses around the world following the announcement in March. Then came an aftershock from the first earthquake on Sunday with Phil Mickelson’s announcement.

However, he had previously harshly criticized LIV. “They’re f… terrifying killers, So the Californian had said in a biography written by the journalist Alan Shipnuck. They killed the journalist Washington PostThey kill homosexuals. I can’t imagine for a moment studying his proposals.” After losing numerous sponsors, he returned to his tirade with an apology to Saudi Arabian Golf League officials.

In making the decision to join LIV, Mickelson intends to move the lines within a discipline that he considers blocked by the PGA, particularly on the issue of image rights. yes this “I wanted to put an end to any threat, I would just have to give the players back their image rightsexplained to golf summary in February. But they prefer to throw 25 million here and 40 million there than return the approximately 20 billion digital assets they control, or give up the more than 50 million they earn each year with their chain..

Phil Mickelson also told the American newspaper Sports Illustrated (article in English) that he would line up at the next US Open, counting for the PGA Tour. The golfers of the dissident league will be able to play this competition that will be held next week in Brookline (Massachusetts), as reported on Tuesday by the organizers of this Grand Slam tournament in a press release.

If he obviously got close to Tiger Woods, Norman told the Washington Post (in English)other stars have already chosen his side… If he had announced otherwise in February, theFormer world number 1 Dustin Johnson, winner of the US Open in 2016 and the Masters in 2020, last week topped an initial list of 42 players who will participate in the inaugural LIV tournament, which will take place from June 9-6 . 11 at the Centurion Club in St Albans, north London. Other former Major champions are also present, such as the Spanish Sergio García or the British Ian Poulter. The PGA Tour has promised, in a statement, “disciplinary sanctions” against those who would participate in this new adventure.

For Ludovic Pont, these sanctions can range from“exclusions from a few months to life suspensions”. But the PGA has yet to crack down. For the editor of golf magazinethe situation is not yet critical because these golfers “They are very big second or former glories players in the second leg”. “Phil Mickelson is 51 years old and his career, as great as it is, is behind him. There he is guaranteed to receive a sum of several million dollars just for lining up for these tournaments. He was employed by LIV in the end. That must have made him think…”

In the end, and whatever the outcome of this matchup, the entire image of golf is likely to suffer. “For me, it’s a big messlaments Pascal Grizot. The PGA Tour and the European Tour must also look in the mirror and find common ground to harmonize their competitions with those of the LIV. Otherwise, the risk is that we continue to talk about our sport only through the prism of money. And the clichés about this discipline will rain again, which would only be reserved for the rich… This does not help golf at all, which has done everything possible to democratize itself.

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