LIV captains playing for R899 million purse..

LIV captains playing for R899 million purse..

Stephen Keating

Miami – A $50 million purse may be serious money, but the LIV Golf Series championship at Trump National Doral Golf Club began with laughs on Wednesday as the Saudi-backed initiative prepared to announce its inaugural team champion.

While $50 million constitutes the highest payout in the history of the sport, players have cited enjoyment, not money, as their primary motivation for leaving the PGA Tour for the controversial “Golf, But Louder” circuit.

LIV Golf has challenged the sport’s conventions by adopting a rock-and-roll party atmosphere that departs from traditional golf etiquette and promises “good vibes, fantastic food, and live music.”

For the eight captains on the dais on Wednesday, including major champions Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith, and Bubba Watson, landing a nice jibe appeared to be more crucial than winning $16 million.

“You probably don’t know this because you’ve never been number one in the world,” Koepka told Mickelson, a four-time major champion.

“That is a lovely green shirt. Do you have a green jacket?” Mickelson, three-time Masters champion, fired back.

Koepka responded, “I don’t, but I will, so don’t worry,” when asked if he owned the property.

Reportedly, LIV Golf, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, spent up to $1 billion to entice golf’s top names, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau, away from the PGA Tour.

In addition to his signing bonus, Johnson has now earned $13.6 million from seven events, while Patrick Reed has earned $8.2 million from six tournaments.

Last season, world number one Rory McIlroy had the best year of his career, earning $8.6 million across 16 PGA Tour events.

In an effort to emulate the enthusiasm generated by wildly famous team contests like the Ryder and Presidents Cups, LIV Golf introduced a team component into each of its eight tournaments.

While novel, the concept and foreign format have yet to become established.

Former US Ryder Cup team captain Phil Mickelson frankly described the LIV team event as a great competition.

Mickelson, captain of the HyFlyers, will face Punch GC skipper Smith in Friday’s quarterfinals. “There are some aspects of those team activities that can apply, where knowledge and experience can be advantageous, and others that just do not,” Mickelson said.

“We don’t have anyone sitting out, and we don’t have the rich history or pressure that those other events do, whereas this is a truly enjoyable occasion. As if we’re having a great time.”

Reuters

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