Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood are among those to have pledged their commitment to the new league

LIV Golf players list: Everyone who has quit PGA Tour and DP World Tour to take part in Saudi-backed series

Mickelson is one of the most recognisable faces to have signed up (Photo: Getty)

By Oliver Young-Myles

The highly contentious LIV Invitational Series, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is here with a host of golf’s most famous players signed up to play.

The financial package put forward by LIV Golf has already seduced Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and plenty of others, with more high-profile stars tipped to follow suit.

Mickelson was reportedly paid $200m (£159m) just for turning up, while Johnson, the top-ranked player to have joined so far, earning $150m (£119m). Johnson announced his resignation from the PGA Tour in order to concentrate fully on the new tournament fronted by former World No 1 Greg Norman, but the PGA has since suspended all players to have made the switch.

Besides the eye-watering signing-on-fees, the prize money on offer is staggering. There is a $25m (£19.9m) purse to be split between the 48 players per tournament in the eight-event series, with the winner pocketing $4m (£3.2m) and the loser earning $120k (£95k).

The format is also very different from traditional majors. There are 54 rather than 72 holes for a start – “LIV” is 54 in Roman numerals – there is a “shotgun” start where players tee off at the same time, and golfers are grouped into teams of four. Johnson is captain of the “4 Aces”, Mickelson is leading the “Hy Flyers” and Poulter and Westwood are affiliated to “Majesticks”.

The first tournament was held in England, with subsequent events taking place in Portland and Bedminster, while Boston, Chicago, Bangkok, Jeddah and Miami are all on the horizon.

In the build-up, players faced questions about “sportswashing” and whether Saudi Arabia is seeking to deflect attention from its human rights record by investing so heavily in the sport. Mickelson previously called the Saudis “scary motherf**kers” before backtracking.

“I don’t condone human rights violations at all,” he said. “I’m certainly aware of what has happened with Jamal Khashoggi and I think it’s terrible. I have also seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history and I believe LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game as well.”

‘Hero’ Tiger Woods leads PGA fight against LIV

Rory McIlroy has hailed the role of Tiger Woods as the “alpha” figure in the PGA Tour’s fight against LIV Golf.

Woods flew to Wilmington on 16 August for a private meeting of top players to discuss the threat of the Saudi-funded breakaway ahead of the BMW Championship.

The 15-time major winner had not qualified for the second FedEx Cup play-off event after playing just three times in 2022 following the car accident in February 2021 which almost resulted in his right leg being amputated.

Players in the meeting were reluctant to divulge details of what was discussed, but McIlroy said: “I think the one thing that came out of it, which I think was the purpose, is all the top players on this Tour are in agreement and alignment of where we should go going forward, and that was awesome.

“We need to get the top guys together more often than we do.”

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods oppose LIV Golf (Photo: Getty)

Asked about the presence of Woods, who made the journey from his home in Florida alongside Rickie Fowler, McIlroy added: “It’s impactful and I think it shows how much he cares about the Tour.

“I think it shows how much he cares about the players that are coming through and are going to be the next generation.

“Like it or not, they can’t really sell Tiger Woods anymore. The Tour had an easy job for 20 years. They don’t have Tiger – yes, they’ve got a bunch of us and we’re all great players, but we’re not Tiger Woods. We’re moving into a different era, and we just have to think about things a little differently.

“He is the hero that we’ve all looked up to. His voice carries further than anyone else’s in the game of golf. His role is navigating us to a place where we all think we should be.

“I think it’s pretty apparent that whenever we all get in the room there’s an alpha in there, and it’s not me.”

Graeme McDowell said “we’re not politicians, we’re professional golfers,” in regards to the country’s human rights record and Talor Gooch responded “I’m a golfer, I’m not that smart”. Poulter and Westwood both said they would not answer “hypothetical questions” when asked whether they would have played in a tournament held by Vladimir Putin or in South Africa during Apartheid.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, former US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau and ex-Masters champion Patrick Reed signed up to the breakaway competition after the first event, while Paul Casey was also confirmed in early July.

The likes of Rickie Fowler and Viktor Hovland could be next to commit, according to reports, while newly crowned Open champion Cameron Smith declined the chance to deny rumours that he would make the switch in the aftermath of his victory at St Andrews.

“I don’t know mate,” he said when pressed on the issue.

“My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”

Henrik Stenson was stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy after pledging his allegiance to LIV. The Swede was among the recruits ahead of the third LIV Golf event at Bedminster, alongside Americans Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell III. The next event is in Boston from 2-4 September.

Here are all the players to have signed up so far:

  • Abraham Ancer
  • Oliver Bekker
  • Richard Bland
  • Itthipat Buranatanyarat
  • Laurie Canter
  • Paul Casey
  • TK Chantananuwat
  • Bryson DeChambeau
  • Hennie Du Plessis
  • Oliver Fisher
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Taylor Gooch
  • Branden Grace
  • Justin Harding
  • Sam Horsfield
  • Charles Howell III
  • Yuki Inamori
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Matt Jones
  • Sadom Kaewkanjana
  • Martin Kaymer
  • Sihwan Kim
  • Ryo Kinoshita
  • Phachara Khongwatmai
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Chase Koepka
  • Jason Kokrak
  • Jinichiro Kozuma
  • Pablo Larrazabal
  • Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra
  • Viraj Madappa
  • Graeme McDowell
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Jediah Morgan
  • Kevin Na
  • Shaun Norris
  • Andy Ogletree
  • Louis Oosthuizen
  • Wade Ormsby
  • Carlos Ortiz
  • Adrian Otaegui
  • Pat Perez
  • Turk Petit
  • James Piot
  • Ian Poulter
  • David Puig
  • Patrick Reed
  • JC Ritchie
  • Charl Schwartzel
  • Travis Smyth
  • Ian Snyman
  • Henrik Stenson
  • Hudson Swafford
  • Hideto Tanihara
  • Peter Uihlein
  • Scott Vincent
  • Bubba Watson
  • Lee Westwood
  • Bernd Wiesberger
  • Blake Windred
  • Matthew Wolff
  • Kevin Yuan

Additional reporting by Press Association

Analysis: LIV Invitational is morally bankrupt and won’t revitalise golf

By Matt Butler

The name is quite clever: LIV. In Roman numerals it is 54 and the players in this new incarnation of golf kicking off in the exotic locale of Hemel Hempstead will play that many holes. Neat, huh?

Of course, you might say that a new sporting franchise bolstered by limitless petrodollars would be expected to be creative with its branding.

But the new kid in town is a sign that golf is in desperate need of some love. Whether that love comes from a despotic regime with a dreadful record on human rights is something for Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood and, err, James Piot to ponder as they chase a ball around a course for a share of 20 mill a tournament.

And if you put aside the ickiness of the Saudi regime behind Jamal Khashoggi’s killers providing the lipstick and mascara to the game, the concept of a quickfire bunch of tournaments with a set season and eight-figure sums of cash riding on each one sounds intriguing – even if the reason why players joined appears to be all about the money. Not that cold hard cash as a motivator is news, especially in the world of golf.

The rules are thus: everyone tees off at once. It is called a shotgun start, which sounds a little violent, given the paymasters, but I guess bonesaw start would have been too much. Twelve teams of four play in a match-play format, with individual members also competing in a strokeplay competition. There is no cut to miss. So far, so mildly diverting.

However, toe-curlingly twee “Camden Market-style” stalls, a Craig David and Jessie J gig and Sporty Spice on the decks post-match does not sound like much of an answer to the organiser’s promise to “supercharge” golf.

Read Matt’s full analysis here

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