Players With Wide Draft Ranges
Covering the impact of coronavirus on the sports world
The inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event wrapped up Saturday at the Centurion Club outside London, England. The largest purse ever bestowed upon professional golf was shelled out to 48 players as former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel claimed the top prize of $4 million while also leading his squad, Stingers GC, to the team title. For their efforts, an additional $3 million will be split amongst Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Hennie du Plessis, who finished runner-up in the individual portion of the tournament.
Two-time major champion Dustin Johnson had his moments throughout the week but was unable to garner the strength to make a final-round charge. Carding a three-round total of 1 under, Johnson finished in a tie for eighth and will now set his sights on next week’s U.S. Open at The Country Club.
Also making the transatlantic flight to Boston will be Phil Mickelson, who fell off the pace with rounds of 75-76 after opening with a 1-under 69. In the 51-year-old’s first competitive outing since the Saudi international in February, rust was apparent and fatigue may have set in after Thursday’s play.
Mickelson is surely not alone, as it has been a long week covering the LIV Golf Invitational Series with new information coming to light every day. Kevin Na’s resignation from the PGA Tour seems like a lifetime ago despite only being seven days old.
The winning putt 🏆@CA_Schwartzel finishes atop the leaderboard at -7#LIVGolf pic.twitter.com/e4wmACGAHZ
With so much developing in such a short window, below are a few takeaways following the conclusion of the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event for those of you may have blinked.
With more and more players jumping ship from the PGA Tour, the Tour must at least be reassured by many of their business associates maintaining the same view. Rocket Mortgage, Royal Bank of Canada and Workday — who serve as tournament hosts — have all dropped their sponsorships from players who have or will participate in LIV Golf, and more will follow suit.
DraftKings was the first official betting operator of the PGA Tour and began to sponsor Bryson DeChambeau in the fall of 2020. A relatively new partnership has become fractured and the removal of DraftKings’ logo from DeChambeau’s hat in LIV Golf’s welcome announcement makes me believe DeChambeau is down yet another sponsor in addition to Rocket Mortgage.
Others such as MGM and Farmers Insurance may be faced with the same quandary as those mentioned above. Equipment and clothing companies appear to be on the other side of aisle, as staff bags were present in London and the Jordan Brand — per Pat Perez’s wife — is set to stick with their athletes who sign with LIV Golf.
The goalposts continue to move when it comes to the description of players LIV Golf has been able to entice. At first the league was a diet version of the PGA Tour Champions and exclusively for washed-up old-timers whose best golf was behind them. Then with the inclusion of Johnson, it was for players who lacked competitive drive. Now with DeChambeau and Reed set to play at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland, Oregon, from June 30 – July 2, it has now become an island for misfit toys.
Put your bias aside for a moment and realize LIV Golf and their deep pockets have been extremely effective in a short amount of time — not only in the professional ranks but also among amateurs as 15-year-old TK Chantananuwat and Arizona State’s David Puig both sit inside the top 10 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and were participants in London.
Factor in the speculation of fan-favorites Matthew Wolff and Rickie Fowler joining future fields, and the excitement for LIV Golf — whether warranted or not — will only grow. The guaranteed money is alluring, a less strenuous schedule is attractive from a lifestyle point of view, and for some players it currently outweighs the luster of making history on the PGA Tour.
Among the controversy, opinions and the actual competition, it is easy to forget that this was LIV Golf’s first broadcast production. All in all, it was a success. Golf shots were shown in abundance, changes were made in between rounds and the short, five-hour viewing window was comparable to most other major sports.
It is clear they were monitoring social media channels and listening to viewers’ criticism, as the inclusion of a leaderboard and the dismissal of various alert sounds were evidence enough. Additional modifications will inevitably unfold and the strength of future competition should help move the product forward.
With news surfacing of Johnson’s four-year commitment to LIV Golf, this thing doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The PGA Tour has been two steps behind at every critical juncture, and because of this, LIV’s successful launch means the disruption of professional golf has officially arrived.
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