With the Saudi-backed circuit’s final tournament of the season taking place this weekend in Miami at the Trump National Doral Golf Club, LIV Golf’s inaugural season is heading to the 19th hole.
The upstart tour, known for dropping tens of millions of dollars to lure star players such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brook Koepka and Cameron Smith away from the PGA Tour to make more money playing fewer holes and fewer events, has spent big bucks but has seen little in the way of fanfare or viewership.
So, exactly how much has LIV Golf spent to hold its inaugural season? According to Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig, LIV Golf’s first season cost a total of $784 million, and the bill for next year when LIV Golf plans to roll out a 14-event schedule with events around the world is expected to be at least $1 billion. Those figures don’t factor in player salaries, as Mickelson, Johnson, DeChambeau, Koepka and Smith, who have all expenses paid like the rest of LIV’s golfers, alone count for more than half a billion dollars in guaranteed contracts, per SI.
In the world of LIV, which admirably does a good job of taking care of its caddies, and its backer the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, a half a billion dollars is pocket change. A story from Harig about the PIF’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, is proof.
Explaining that his tour received its name because LIV is the Roman numeral for 54 and that score would be a perfect round in golf as it would average a birdie on 18 holes, Al-Rumayyan casually proposed a new bonus for players.
“Then Al-Rumayyan dropped this beauty from the podium: He said if any LIV player ever shot a score of 54, he’d be paid a bonus of $54 million,” per Harig. “The crowd cheered, Al Rumayyan smiled, and it didn’t matter if he was kidding: The fact that the PIF, with its hundreds of billions of dollars, can easily afford it was all you needed to know about the funding mechanism that took LIV Golf to this point.”
How far that funding mechanism can take LIV Golf remains to be seen, but none of the PGA Tour defectors seem to care.