LIV Golf is making its way to Mexico this week for its season-opening event, which tees off on Friday at El Camaleón Golf Course in Mayakoba.
Entering its third season, the controversial league with financial backing from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has made waves this winter, most notably with the signing of Jon Rahm, ranked No. 3 in the world, at a reported cost of more than $500 million. Just four days before Rahm hits the course, the 2023 Masters champion still hasn’t announced which LIV team he’ll play for—a key component of the tour. But off the course, LIV is facing even more questions:
Can Jon Rahm attract new viewers?
The CW is returning for its second season as LIV’s U.S. broadcast partner. How many people watched in 2023, though, is a little unclear. After initially reporting viewership figures using data from iSpotTV, as opposed to Nielsen (the industry standard for audience measurement), LIV stopped releasing ratings altogether following its sixth tournament. Some broadcasts were drawing fewer than 200,000 viewers late in the season, according to Sports Media Watch. But now LIV has one of golf’s top stars in Rahm. Through two seasons, big names like Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, and Dustin Johnson didn’t appear to move the needle, but perhaps having Rahm will be different.
Will a looming PGA Tour-PIF deal interrupt the season?
The PIF, PGA Tour, and DP World Tour are still working toward a deal to unify pro golf after missing the Dec. 31 deadline to reach a definitive agreement. LIV’s regular season is scheduled to run until August, followed by two postseason events. So, there is a strong possibility that any official deal would come during that time frame. While it is possible that some LIV players could be allowed back at PGA Tour events this year, if a deal was struck, conventional wisdom says that any major changes would not come until 2025.
Can LIV get world rankings points?
All of LIV’s efforts thus far to secure accreditation from the Official World Golf Ranking board have failed. Players who were once safely inside the top 50 and 100 are now plummeting down the rankings, and that’s creating what would be the smallest Masters field in decades. But there is turnover happening with the OWGR (two key spots from Europe are changing hands), and a deal with the PGA Tour could help LIV events secure rankings points even sooner.
Will LIV land Anthony Kim?
Former U.S. Ryder Cup team member Anthony Kim, who last played pro golf in 2012, is reportedly mulling a comeback, despite an insurance policy worth an estimated $10 million that would be voided if he returned to competition. Kim has “spent the last few months in discussions with the PGA Tour, LIV and potential sponsors,” sources told Golf.com. Kim would no doubt bring a welcome spotlight to LIV, if they signed him.