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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Attendance at LIV Golf’s DC Event Exceeds Expectations

  • An estimated crowd of 14,000 was on hand as Harold Varner III secured his first U.S. pro win.
  • The walkup crowd was so strong on Saturday that organizers ran out of beer.
LIV Golf
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

STERLING, Va. — Minutes after Harold Varner III sank a birdie on the 18th, the P.A. announcer said a “record” crowd was on hand for the final round of the LIV Golf DC event. 

How large was it? The final day had an estimated crowd of 14,000, according to one organizer estimate. That was more than double what local and state law enforcement officials expected.

And before the new high watermark for single-day crowd size for the Saudi-backed tour through nine U.S. stops dating back to last year’s inaugural seasons, the first two days also did better than expected. 

An unexpected walkup crowd for Saturday’s second round at Trump National drank all the Bud Light, and other beer organizers had on hand. They had restocked before Sunday’s shotgun start. 

LIV Golf doesn’t typically release crowd counts, although the largest over three days was reportedly 40,000, set just two weekends prior in Tulsa.

While there’s a decent chance the three-day crown on the course in Northern Virginia could have matched that figure, Trump National didn’t feel packed since it is spread across about 800 acres. Some galleries were a half-dozen fans deep on Sunday. 

The crowd size at Trump National wouldn’t be mistaken for TPC Scottsdale in March. 

LIV’s Sunday crowd could have easily fit in the 16th hole of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which seats between 16,000-20,000. The four-day event — which hasn’t released crowd counts since 2018 — is thought to draw in 700,000 fans annually. 

While golf tickets are primarily sold months in advance, the D.C. event saw more than half its tickets purchased on-site — something LIV officials see as an indication the league is generating momentum.

Brooks Koepka’s major victory a weekend prior at the PGA Championship could’ve contributed to the walkup audience. Still, he wasn’t a factor on the leaderboard as he finished seven shots back. 

LIV officials threw together the 2022 schedule in a matter of weeks. There was some lead time this season as the schedule swelled from eight last year to 14 this season. 

The 2024 schedule is already being laid out — and there’s no guarantee that the same eight U.S. courses on the 2023 schedule will return. 

While the U.S. remains the focus as it seeks to rival the PGA Tour, the timeline for an international expansion had accelerated beyond LIV’s roadmap when it launched last June. Its other volley against the PGA Tour — an antitrust lawsuit — came in federal court in August.

Meanwhile, LIV’s broadcast deal with The C.W. hasn’t precisely grabbed an audience. Before the D.C. event that marked the halfway point of the LIV season, the series exercised an option to put events back on YouTube under the deal. 

That’s where all the events of 2022 were streamed before The C.W. multiyear agreement came to be in January. But the events won’t be free like last year, as fans will need to pay $3 per day to watch on YouTube.

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