The latest move in golf’s global power struggle will take place on Tuesday, when the Saudi Arabian business fronted by Greg Norman reveals detailed plans for 10 events – including one in the UK – on the 2022-23 Asian Tour schedule. The UK element of the new series will be perceived as openly hostile given relations between the Saudis and golf’s main tours.
Norman is due to hold a press conference at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club ahead of this week’s Saudi International, which is now sanctioned by the Asian Tour. The DP World and PGA Tours are strongly opposed to Saudi’s plans for the top level game – which they view as a commercial threat – meaning leading players may soon have a choice to make over whether to remain in the current ecosystem or accept vast sums to play within a rival organisation. Ultimately the Saudis have plans for a Super Golf League, comprising 14 events.
Information seen by the Guardian shows that LIV Golf Investments, represented by Norman, a former world No 1, and funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, is expected to announce their newly-branded International Series, worth up to $2m per event plus inevitably lucrative appearance fees. Under the plan, March will see the first of the new tournaments take place in Thailand. The Centurion Club in Hertfordshire is expected to stage a competition in early June, immediately before the US Open. Other events will be staged in Korea, the Middle East, China and Hong Kong.
Key, of course, is whether or not golfers will see the appeal in what is a congested schedule. The DP World and PGA Tours will not make it easy for their members to compete routinely on the Asian Tour, should such dispensation even be granted at all.
Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood are among those playing in the Saudi International from Thursday. Notable absentees include Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Justin Thomas.