Greg Norman’s LIV Golf Investments announces ‘International Series’ events
Golf’s great arms race is only heating up. On Tuesday, Saudi-backed golf startup LIV Golf Investments announced it expanded its financial partnership with the Asian Tour, creating an 11-event “International Series” as part of the agreement.
The move will expand LIV Golf’s investment in the Asian Tour by an additional $100 million, raising the firm’s current investment in the tour to $300 million. According to a release distributed by LIV Golf, the added capital will cover 10 years of “playing opportunities and prize funds” for the International Series. Purses on this new series will rise as high as $2.5 million, with events staged in more than a half-dozen countries, including England, Korea, Vietnam, China, Singapore, and still-to-be-announced destinations in the Middle East.
“We are setting the Asian Tour up as a powerful new force on the world golf stage,” said Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf Investments. “In my 40 years as a professional golfer, I’ve seen many parts of the world that have benefitted tremendously from golf and its growth and development. We now have the opportunity to do that in the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East with this incredible investment platform. Everyone benefits — professional players, amateurs, grassroots golf, fans, economies, communities, stakeholders. I’ve never been so optimistic about the future of the sport.”
It wasn’t quite the announcement the golf world has been waiting for from Norman, who has been reportedly forming a rival circuit to the PGA Tour for the last several years. In recent months, LIV Golf’s growing visibility in the golf world has given those rumors added steam. The firm is on a hiring spree, picking off sports and media executives from ESPN, Formula 1 and the PGA Tour. LIV Golf even convinced longtime rules official Slugger White to join the fold.
Last week, LIV Golf broadcast consultant and former Fox Sports chairman David Hill offered some hints as to the shape the rival league could take.
“The three-day event, the 54 holes — anything you can compress makes things better, because right now the audience has got more alternatives than any time in the history of man,” Hill told GOLF.com. “With the shotgun start, everything happens between 2-6 p.m. It’s there — it doesn’t start at 6 in the morning and go on and on and on. So you have this concentrated drama in front of you with storylines left, right and center. So it’s not a slow, linear progression — ‘and here we are in the Waikiki and it’s late Saturday’ — it’s what’s happening now! Boom!”
Still, the Asian Tour announcement marks a key moment for all parties. With the International Series, the Asian Tour will grow to 25 events and see its largest prize fund ever. According to the tour’s release, each of the new series’ 10 events will be broadcast globally.
For LIV Golf, the announcement marks the latest move in an effort that aims to expand golf’s international reach beyond the PGA Tour, an effort Norman first embarked upon with his unsuccessful World Golf Tour in the mid-1990s. Strategically, the agreement also ensures a rival tour has an international partner similar to the PGA Tour’s ‘strategic alliance’ with the DP World Tour (formerly European Tour).
“When you think back in the past, I’ve been involved with these institutions that you’re probably referencing,” Norman said in a press conference Tuesday. “I was only involved, now speaking for me myself personally as a professional golfer, that was my only pathway. You only had one choice to make. You either had to go there or you had nowhere.”
As Norman repeatedly reiterated Tuesday, the International Series is an important first step for LIV Golf Investments, but it certainly won’t be the last.
“From a LIV Golf perspective, this is just the beginning for us,” Norman said. “We see so many great opportunities ahead. We identify virgin space for lost opportunities or people overlooked for decades and decades and decades, so we also recognize that being respectful and healthy competitors gives that ability to go forward.”