Circle LIV.  Always more money, trophies and…tension.

Circle LIV. Always more money, trophies and…tension.

The unprecedented split in world golf is entering its second year: The 2023 edition of the LIV circuit kicks off Friday with an inaugural course at Course Mayakoba, Mexico with $25 million and 48 well-known players living very well against gold.

The 2023 edition of the LIV Circuit starts on Friday.

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After an inaugural season with eight tournaments, LIV Circuit’s Season 2 schedule features 14 tournaments and added Spain, Australia and Singapore as destinations. As its name suggests (LIV for 54 in Roman numerals), this North American PGA rival circuit funded by Saudi funds wants to continue dusting off millions of dollars and contested championships over three days (and 54 holes), in teams of Four individuals with bright names and colors away from the sometimes crowded atmosphere of clubs.

It is undoubtedly one of its pioneers, the American Dustin Johnson, who best sums up what this circle represents for the discipline and its participants. “My career on the PGA Tour has been amazing and I’m so proud of what I’ve accomplished,” the former world No. 1 explained in the Netflix documentary series “Full Swing.”

$36 million for Johnson

“I have now chosen to take a new direction in my life and in my career. The decision to play this circuit came from the offer given to me, which is to play less and win more, it’s that simple,” continued the captain of the 4 Aces he coaches with compatriots Patrick Reed, Pat Perez and Peter Ohlen.

Johnson (38 years old) dominated the first edition in 2022, winning the rating of individuals and groups, which is synonymous with profits of $ 36 million. This is in addition to the $100 million, according to specialized newspapers, that he would have received for joining the circle of defectors.

Australian Cameron Smith, PGA Player of the Year in 2022 after winning the British Open, Americans Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson or even Bubba Watson, England’s Ian Poulter also responded to the LIV siren, even if this no longer allows them to score points in the world rankings.

They were joined this season by less important players such as New Zealander Danny Lee and Belgian Thomas Peters. Spaniard John Rahm, Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and American Tiger Woods continue to swear on the PGA Tour.

Counterattack the PGA circuit

Faced with this exodus, the PGA Tour initially pressured Grand Slam tournaments to refuse to pass players to the sprint. But, in December, the prestigious Augusta Masters decided to maintain the “current standards” to allow LIV players to commit to the 2023 edition.

The North American circuit is trying to counterattack, creating “super leagues” with $20 million and increasing the player championship prize pool to $25 million.

But on hearing its boss, Australian legend Greg Norman, LIV Golf, whose three stages will be contested on courses owned by former US President Donald Trump, has already hit the mark. “Our tournament format is already starting to attract new fans,” confirmed the player, who as a player was nicknamed the Great White Shark (Great White Shark).

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The LIV circuit still faces challenges: for many of its critics, it remains a tool for Saudi Arabia’s sports diplomacy to cover up its human rights record. And if he does finally find a broadcaster in the US, the audiovisual group The CW Network, his media exposure remains limited.

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