Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

LIV Golf takeaways: Good, bad from second season as league faces uncertain future amid PGA Tour merger talks

Tags: liv golf golf

The act of following up the first iteration of anything that drew a good amount of buzz is a tall order. That was the task Liv Golf faced this year after its inaugural season that was filled with Ryder Cup comparisons, big-name signings, viral moments and hyperboles uttered by everyone from the chief executive officer to the players themselves.

While some of those topics have remained, others have drifted to sea. LIV Golf’s second season was the first that included a true international swing as it made stops in Australia and Singapore in back-to-back weeks. Star players like Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith made significant waves both on the LIV Golf circuit and in major championships. At the midway point in the season, LIV Golf felt like it had wind in its sails.

As the calendar turned to the latter months, however, barnacle latched onto the underbelly of the ship. The two-year buzz surrounding the circuit waned, and despite moments like the June 6 announcement of the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (LIV Golf’s financial backer) agreeing to come together or DeChambeau’s 58 in the final round of LIV Greenbrier, uncertainty persisted.

CEO Greg Norman insists on future growth — a new chief operating officer has been hired and recent partnerships have been formed with individual teams and the league itself. Mickelson believes it is only the beginning of this chess match (move No. 6, to be exact).

The elephant in the room is the framework agreement between the PGA Tour and PIF. There are growing concerns the deal is nowhere near its completion as the year-end deadline approaches. Then there are the Official World Golf Rankings on the other side of the room — an organization which recently denied LIV Golf’s application for world ranking points. 

What this all means for LIV Golf is unknown; you’ll get a different answer each time depending on who you ask. Either the beginning or the end is near. Top 10 players are coming next season or the recruitment spigot has been turned off. This has been the theme of LIV Golf — and, to an extent, the broader golf landscape — for the past two years. Rumors, big promises and loud assertions, but when it comes down to it, the only certainty remains uncertainty.

The good

1. International events: LIV Golf found its international stride opening its season at LIV Golf Mayakoba, but it wasn’t until LIV Golf Adelaide where they began running downhill. Bringing its league to a golf-starved nation like Australia, LIV Golf faced heightened expectations as Norman returned to his homeland. They were greeted with the biggest crowds they have ever produced and walked away with serious momentum following the success of the tournament. LIV Golf Singapore was a solid follow-up act, and the international crowds continued to show support at LIV Golf London and LIV Golf Andalucia. The appearances around the world were a resounding positive of year No. 2 and should only grow in number as LIV Golf continues.

2. Major championship presence: There were some who projected LIV Golf’s 54-hole tournaments would affect its players come major championship season. Koepka holding a four-stroke lead after the third day of the Masters only to relinquish it to Jon Rahm across the final 29 holes added fuel to this small fire, but LIV Golf made its presence known at the four big ones early and often. In addition to Koepka, Mickelson dazzled with a final-round 65 at Augusta National to finish runner up and Patrick Reed found the top five. 

Koepka exacted his revenge at the PGA Championship with a historic fifth major title, but the early frontrunner was another LIV Golf member in DeChambeau. The 2020 U.S. Open champion shot out to the first-round lead before finishing T4 as Smith rounded out the top 10 and both Reed and Mito Pereira finished inside the top 20. Dustin Johnson, Smith, Koepka and DeChambeau all grabbed top 20s at the U.S. Open as well.

3. Leaning into content creation: There are two moments from LIV Golf’s second season to which people will point back. The first is LIV Golf Adelaide and the atmosphere it produced. The second is DeChambeau’s YouTube video with Mickelson ahead of LIV Golf Greenbrier. It has amassed 1.8 million views and was the first of two videos DeChambeau featured on his channel that week as his final-round 58 recap grabbed the attention of another 1.2 million viewers. 

Media rights were a big talking point when players made the leap to LIV Golf, and this was a cool way to showcase what players can do with more flexibility while letting fans peek behind the curtain of tournament preparation. Koepka got in the mix with a pro-am match at LIV Golf Chicago the week before the Ryder Cup that has tallied nearly 400,000 views. The team YouTube pages have produced some duds — Cleeks GC have only 30 subscribers — but the big personalities producing personal content with their guard down proved to be a home run.

The bad

1. Franchise sales: Two seasons have come and gone and LIV Golf has yet to announce any of its 12 teams being purchased, even if it is just a percentage of the franchise. The league continues to claim there is interest with this topic being front and center at the LIV Golf Team Championship.

“Anywhere from 10 to 20 people have asked to buy the RangeGoats,” RangeGoats GC captain Bubba Watson said. “There was three in Singapore, and then after Singapore the floodgates opened, there was even more. There’s been talk this week. I met with people this week. There’s quite a few.” 

The hope for LIV Golf is this drought turns into a deluge during the offseason after the PGA Tour gave unsure corporations the green light to deal with the Saudi Arabia PIF. Despite this metaphorical head nod, it is hard not to compare apples to oranges with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s TMRW Golf League (TGL) which has announced five franchise ownership groups featuring successful entrepreneurs, athletes and professional sports team owners in half the time.

2. Lack of drama: The NFL and NBA are year-round products and LIV Golf had the feel of this in its first season. The rumor mill was swirling every week as players deflected questions about LIV Golf from the media and the upstart league poached new star after new star. Eyes were drawn to LIV Golf the first year because of the soap opera-like environment and the thought of who may join the fold next. 

The recruitment class of Koepka, DeChambeau, Smith and Joaquin Niemann was followed by Thomas Pieters, Sebastian Munoz, Brendan Steele and Mito Pereira. This haul of new players was not the only thing to fall short; the drama between teams did as well. Talor Gooch went from the 4 Aces to the RangeGoats among other roster moves, but the trash talk and rivalries were manufactured at best. The most genuine animosity came from Koepka hounding his own teammate Matthew Wolff.

3. Stagnation: There was no Year-2 leap when it came to LIV Golf’s product. The team format, which actually hindered its OWGR case, was not reimagined. The broadcast, despite switching from YouTube to The CW on network television, took a step back as international events were on tape delay in the United States and the relegation system was forced. LIV Golf’s band of misfit social media accounts attempted to prop up the product with the occasional video grab of Koepka cursing or whatever it may be, but it fell on deaf ears. LIV Golf is stuck between a rock and a hard place of hoping to legitimize itself (according to OWGR’s requests) and needing to differentiate to draw more eyeballs.

What happens next?

1. The framework agreement goes through and LIV Golf exists in some form: The discussion around LIV Golf is not complete without including the framework agreement with the PGA Tour and PIF. If the two sides come together and LIV Golf exists, the question then becomes in what manner? It does not appear it will happen in 2024, but the thought of LIV Golf turning into golf’s version of the Champions League where the best players team up once a month (in place of the signature events) and compete as 12 squads makes the most sense. 

2. The framework agreement goes through and LIV Golf dissolves: When the framework agreement was announced, this scenario was the heavy favorite among many who cover the sport. Norman was relatively quiet at the onset, and the workshopping of ways to bring LIV Golf members back to the PGA Tour spelled out the league’s demise. If Saudi PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan negotiates additional concessions to his liking, who is to say it is not enough for him to close up shop and influence the golf landscape from his seat on the PGA Tour’s policy board.

3. The framework agreement does not go through and LIV Golf continues: With reports surfacing of the PGA Tour and PIF making little progress in negotiations, this could be the likeliest scenario. LIV Golf would fire back up the recruitment train and write checks worth astronomical amounts of money that would inevitably draw some away from the PGA Tour. The league would innovate, tinker with items like the team format to find a way to appease the OWGR in order to gain points. Maybe the players get their own qualifying criteria in a major championship. This sounds great on paper, but at what point does the economic viability begin to gnaw at those at the top?


The post LIV Golf takeaways: Good, bad from second season as league faces uncertain future amid PGA Tour merger talks appeared first on National Post Today.

This post first appeared on National Post Today, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

LIV Golf takeaways: Good, bad from second season as league faces uncertain future amid PGA Tour merger talks


Subscribe to National Post Today

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription