LIV golf remains a headache

Henry

The controversial LIV Series remains a headache for American and European men’s and women’s golf.

With the cooperation negotiations between LIV and the American PGA and DP World Series still ongoing and having yet to yield any acceptable solution, the Saudi Arabian-funded series continues on its own.

In the process, the LIV series fires one kart after the next as it lures top players away from the men’s PGA and European series.

However, the LIV big boss Yasir Al-Rumayyan also put a stick in front of the possible merger of the American LPGA and European women’s series.

As far as the controversial LIV series is concerned, this organization dropped its biggest bomb yet last year with its successful removal of the Spaniard Jon Rahm.

It cost LIV billions, but no price seemed too high for the services of the US Masters champion and European Ryder Cup star.

On Tuesday, LIV gave the European series another painful stop with the announcement that Rahm’s Ryder Cup playing partner Tyrrell Hatton had joined the Spaniard’s Legion XIII team.

It reportedly cost LIV more than $60 million (about R1.2 billion) to secure the services of grumpy Hatton.

The emotional and impatient Englishman is currently ranked sixteenth in the world and boasts ten professional victories in his career.

One of the ten tournaments in which Hatton triumphed was the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The English golf star dominated the Bay Hill course in Florida in 2020 for his first and only title in the American PGA Series.

The 32-year-old Hatton’s six European titles include two victories at St. Andrews in the Alfred Dunhill Links tournament, as well as four Rolex titles, the biggest of which is the HSBC Championship in 2021 in Abu Dhabi.

Hatton may have a fiery temper about him and radiate a grumpy image to the outside, but that he can playing golf is not altemite.

The bad news for the European series is not over.

The defection of Pole Adrian Meronk is expected to be announced on Wednesday evening South African time.

The LIV series’ season starts on Friday in Mayakoba in Mexico and Meronk will, according to all indications, be part of it this year.

The 30-year-old Meronk is a five-time winner on the European series and was considered one of Europe’s future stars.

He was controversially overlooked for the European Ryder Cup team last year. It was apparently this decision that made him turn his back on the DP World series.

Rahm, Hatton and Meronk would all probably have been definite choices for Europe’s biennial Ryder Cup campaign in America next year.

However, these three players face sanctions for their participation in LIV.

The sanctions will probably amount to fines of millions of rand and as regulations currently determine, they will not be able to play in the Ryder Cup until they pay the fines that will probably be imposed on them.

A player like Sergio Garcia was not willing to do that this year and gave up his membership of the European series to avoid any payment.

Rahm, Hatton and Meronk are currently still members of the DP World Series, which means they can play in the Ryder Cup provided there are no outstanding sanctions against them.

As far as further LIV acquisitions are concerned, the series also boasted amateur Caleb Surratt as another newcomer to its ranks on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Surratt was part of the American Walker Cup team last year and ranks among the top ten in the amateur world rankings.

However, only time will tell if Surratt can perform on the professional stage. His overall amateur record does not exactly inspire much confidence; he will therefore have to raise his level of play considerably in the larger company in which he now finds himself.

*Women’s golf is growing in popularity worldwide and the American LPGA Series and European Women’s Series (LET) negotiated for months behind the scenes to merge last year.

It has just come to light that Al-Rumayyan has objected to the possible merger of the two series and that collaboration talks between the two parties have been postponed indefinitely in December.

Golf Saudi, which falls under Al-Rumayyan’s control, is the LET’s biggest sponsor and its Aramco series of seven tournaments brings the LET more than R100 million into its pocket.

The two women’s series decided late last year after Al-Rumayyan’s objections to return to the drawing board and resume negotiations when there is more clarity about Golf Saudi’s future involvement in the game.

The two series are already partners on a small scale and jointly host two tournaments on European soil.

Where the LPGA series is getting bigger and stronger every year, the LET is however going backwards and Golf Saudi is currently the lifeblood saving the series from ruin. However, Al-Rumayyan, Gulf Saudi, Aramco and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF)’s true plans with golf are murky.

Billions of rand are currently simply being thrown around without any clearly visible plans for the development and growth of the game worldwide – which is believed to be Al-Rumayyan’s ultimate goal.

Perhaps everything will become clearer when the PGA Series and its partners meet again next month with Al-Rumayyan and his henchmen to broker peace and secure the future of the game.

  • Additional information: Golf Week, Sky Sports, LIV Golf