Saudi-Backed Rival Tour Shifts Focus to Top Amateurs

    • LIV Golf has reportedly sent one-year invites to the world’s top six amateur golfers.
    • The first LIV Golf event takes place in London this June.

As the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational tries to entice more PGA Tour members with its prize purse, the rival series has reportedly sent one-year invites to the top six amateur golfers in the world.

Amateurs are allowed to participate in PGA Tour and DP World Tour tournaments as long as they don’t receive a cash prize. But a spokesperson for LIV, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, told Telegraph Sport that amateurs would be allowed to quickly change their status, clearing the path for winnings. 

Led by retired pro golfer Greg Norman, LIV would “honor the invitations even if they do turn pro, as we do want to restrict opportunity,” according to another insider.

With eight tournaments, the LIV Golf Invitational has a $255 million purse.

  • $25 million for the first seven events
  • $20 million for individual prizes
  • $5 million for the team competition 

The eighth event will award $30 million to the season’s top three players and $50 million for teams in total prize funds. LIV hopes to have 14 global events by 2024.

Tour Troubles

The PGA Tour initially threatened lifetime bans for members who participate in the LIV Golf Series, but later shifted to conditional waivers. Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood requested the releases to play in LIV events, and on Wednesday, Sports Business Journal reported that television production company NEP Group is nearing a deal with LIV.

NEP Group has strong ties to the Tour, producing live content for U.S. sports fans across NBC, CBS, and ESPN.