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STEVE SCOTT: We know where, when and for how much – but WHO will play on Saudi-backed breakaway tour?

Greg Norman, the frontman for the LIV/SGL project.
Greg Norman, the frontman for the LIV/SGL project.

So now we know when, where and for how much. But we still don’t know who.

Undeterred by recent public setbacks, notably Phil Mickelson’s “outing” of his attempt to sink the PGA Tour and his own, rather desperate ‘open letter’ to commissioner Jay Monahan, Greg Norman has unveiled the first eight events of the LIV Golf Invitational, the Saudi-backed breakaway tour previously known as the Super Golf League (SGL).

They start a circuit worth $250 million in total in June at the Centurion Club in Hemel Hempstead, of all places. (The blurb says London, but it’s actually about 25 miles out of the capital.)

It goes on to various locations in the USA, then Bangkok for one stop and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. It ends at a yet-to-be-determined venue for a $30 million grand finale – which will be the richest tournament in golf.

Phil Mickelson.

Venues include the Trump National in New Jersey. As the rest of golf is running from the former president’s properties, the new league seems fine with him.

Each event before the finale will have individual and team elements, be restricted to 54 holes (hence LIV) with no cut. The individual competitions will each have a $20m prizefund. That’s the same as the record purse played for at the PGA Tour’s flagship Players’ Championship last week.

Norman has sent letters to the World’s Top 250 players inviting them to play. He doesn’t expect a torrent at first, but a gradual trickle. The Saudi investment behind this is so humungous that he can afford to be patient, or at least that’s the theory.

With that in mind, LIV/SGL seem to have dropped their insistence that all players had to play every event on their circuit. As far as they’re now concerned, players can come and go.

It’s noticeable that none of the eight has been scheduled up against truly significant PGA Tour events. The opener at Centurion is in the week directly prior to the US Open.

The same stumbling block remains

However, the same stumbling block remains. No player at all, far less any player of significance, has yet committed to the LIV/SGL project. Even Mickelson did not outright declare that he was ‘defecting’ before he took his present leave of absence.

No doubt someone’s going to play for all this money. But the question remains who, and are they of enough significance within the game that this is anything more than the Saudis pouring their money down the drain?

The top players knew the stakes, literally, when they were all publicly shunning the project last month.

They understood the huge amounts of money involved. They had a rough idea of where and when these events would be played. And they still declared they’d have nothing to do with it.

When, where and how much was pretty much known. The big question has always been who, and it’s still unanswered.

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