BREAKING NEWS: PGA Tour bans Saudi rebels as they tee off at opening LIV Series event
From our very own James Corrigan at Centurion, news, that hit the email inboxes of the LIV golfers as they were hitting their opening tee shots, that those playing at Centurion have been banned from the PGA Tour.
READ: PGA Tour bans Saudi rebels as they tee off at opening LIV Series event
Mickelson is a bit rusty
Having not played since February and his tee shot on the third goes straight into the fans – not sure there was a loud shout of ‘fore!’
Martina certainly isn’t a fan
With everyone on the course at the same time
It ain’t half tough to keep up with what’s going on … Apparently, Peter Uihlein is leading on two-under.
One of the tournament’s tag lines is ‘don’t blink’ but right now, I wouldn’t mind blinking, it’s a bit of an overload of golf.
The coverage so far …
… has been extremely positive of the ‘NEW ERA IN GOLF!’. Everything is the ‘first’ this and the ‘first’ that.
Cheers for Phil (as you have to call him) on his return
There are crowds
Pars all round in the marquee group
Of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Scott Vincent.
‘I had that Graeme McDowell in my cab once’ …
The players were taken to their various tee boxes by a traditional London Black Cab – not an Uber or Bolt, which is how most Londoners get around if not on public transport …
Lee Westwood makes the first par in LIV Golf history
It’s not exactly a ‘where were you moment’ but might make for a very tricky pub quiz question in years to come …
One wish from me
Is that amidst this talk of a new era, new form of golf, I hope they get round the 18 holes quicker than the usual five or so hours …
Phil is back
With a booming baby-fade off the first – it’s his first shot in tournament golf since February.
The shotgun start does make it very tough to live blog – hitting everyone at the same time. Ian Poulter is off and he’s found the right rough on the 17th.
They’re under way!
They are all under way as it’s a shotgun start but on the Live Stream we see Dustin Johnson – the multi-millionaire who ‘just wants to provide for his family’ take a three-wood and find the leftside of the first fairway.
The boss speaks …
That’s Greg Norman not Bruce Springsteen …
“It’s very surreal, I was taking it all in thinking ‘this is what it’s all about’ … I feel so happy for the players and that we’ve brought free agency to the world of golf … I am proud for The game of golf, we’re growing the game of golf. “
Rory’s let his feelings be known
The four-time major winner, who’s playing at the RBC Canadian Open this week, said of LIV Golf:
“We all know why everyone’s playing in London this week. It’s boatloads of cash and it’s money up front. I get it and for some guys that’s really enticing.”
Nothing says Brash, New, Modern golf than …
… a brass band of Beefeaters …
Here’s some footage of the toe-curling press conference
That took place yesterday with Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood trying to avoid the questions.
Golf but louder?
While we wait to see how many golf fans will appear at the Hertfordshire club, ticket sales have apparently been poor, there’s a good chance we won’t hear a murmur from those souls who do venture to the rebel event. That’s because of the “completely over the top” rules imposed on the galleries.
Those rules state:
“Any individual or group that verbally abuses, taunts, or shouts insults at the players, caddies, captains, volunteers, officials and / or their partners, families or other guests at any time or displays unruly or disruptive behavior will result in immediate removal from The premises … Guests will enjoy the LIV Golf tournament free from disruptive behavior including, but not limited to foul or abusive language, obscene gestures, fighting, throwing objects, booing, or cheering at inappropriate times, attempting to disrupt play or distract teams. or players from their game. Those who engage in any of these actions are subject to immediate ejection and subject to criminal trespass or prosecution. “
A security specialist told Telegraph sport that …
“The tone is ridiculous and appears to highlight how worried they are about heckles concerning human-rights records and the players accepting the Saudi millions.”
So this tag line will, it appears, have to remain entirely figurative …
READ: Heavy-handed Saudis criticized for ‘draconian’ rules imposed on LIV Golf Series
Is it the DP World Tour …
… or the European Tour? Well, it is now the DP World Tour having been known as the European Tour for decades. And that is an example of the moral minefield that is modern-day sport. It’s not hard to see why the Europ … sorry, DP World Tour is annoyed at the rebel tour but in changing it’s name the European Tour has been accused of helping a form of sportswashing of its own – DP World being a huge company from the UAE, another country accused of having a less than exemplary human-rights record.
So how does this tournament differ from …
… events on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour?
The first seven regular season events will consist of three 54-hole events, with no cut and shotgun starts, while the final event will be a four-day team matchplay knockout.
LIV then plans 10 events in 2023 followed by “a full season” of 14 tournaments in 2024 and 2025.
Centurion, like the other seven events in 2022, is being classed by chief executive Greg Norman as “baiter tournaments”, aiming to lure big names who have so far resisted the circuit’s overtures.
Read more on the breakway here.
Not the best start from Graeme McDowell
The man with, in his words, a mid-Atlantic accent and the 2010 US Open title has tweeted out an appropriate excitable post but alas has tweeted it to a teenage girl rather than the tournament organizers LIV Golf …
‘The future is here’
Again Gregory (Norman) and LIV are, as you’d expect, going big on the ‘This Is New’, Pow, ‘Evolution’, Bang aspects of their pet project. The promo video below rams that home with the lack of subtlety you expect from a Bryson DeChambeau drive. Another line from the promo is that taking part in the series will be ‘faces, famous and fresh’ … it’s fair that there are far more ‘fresh’ faces than famous ones teeing it up at Centurion today.
A new era in golf is here?
And so the new era in golf has arrived – at least that’s what LIV, Greg Norman, and those golfers teeing it up at the Centurion Club would want us to believe.
The strap line on the LIV Golf website says it ‘exists to supercharge the game of golf.’ With a team format, a shotgun start and no cut it’s clear this is a tournament and series with a difference. But until we see what actually unfolds in Hertfordshire and beyond it’s also clear that, for now at least, the only thing it’s supercharging is the bank accounts of those golfers who’ve seen an extra nought and jumped ship from the PGA and DP World Tours .
The events of the past few months have been mired in controversy. From Phil Mickelson describing the Saudis (who are bankrolling the breakaway) as ‘scary mother ——–‘ yet on Wednesday saying he was ‘so happy’ to pledge his future to LIV Golf, to Greg Norman seemingly willing to to air his views on everything no matter who he offends (he called Jack Nicklaus a ‘hypocrite’), the run up to today’s tee time has been nothing if not controversial and colorful.
But as the intervention of Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee illustrates, the controversy is about more than just rich players wanting to become even richer and a perceived lack of loyalty to their respective tours. The fiancee of the butchered journalist called on the rebel players to be banned from majors and the Ryder Cup for ‘supporting murderers’. Hatice Cengiz went on to call the likes of Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood “stooges” of a regime that has committed multiple human rights violations.
After months of behind-the-scenes deals, weighing up of options and accusations being thrown around the golf is actually about to start but, as with the run up to the tournament, you get the sense that what happens beyond the ropes will still dominate the news rather than what happens inside them.