Graeme McDowell is the only Irish golfer among the 42 names published so far that will be taking part in the inaugural LIV Golf Challenge in London in ten days time.

Fallout has been immediate with both the PGA and DP World Tour suggesting that their will be sanctions up to a competition ban on golfers who tee up, despite being refused permission to do so by the Tours on which they would regularly ply their trade.

The biggest name on the list was that of Dustin Johnson who is reported to have been paid a staggering €120 million to be part of the Saudi Arabian backed breakaway tournament.

McDowell along with fellow Major winner Louis Oosthuizen are likely to be a fair bit less but with McDowell saying he had made the decision for himself and his family you could still be looking at an eight figure signing on fee.

The other profile names include Lee Westwood, Serfio Garcia, Kevin Na, Ian Poulter and Bernd Wiesberger. A good field but hardly the best of the best. Johnson is the highest ranked in World Rankings at the moment at number 13. As a comparison nine of the top 11 in the world will be at Adare Manor to play the JP McManus pro-am next month.

Money is clearly no object for this tournament looking to establish itself. The prize fund for the first tournament is around €24 million, that is twice what is on offer for the 2022 Memorial Tournament taking place this weekend at Muirfield Village.

As things stand this is a straight transactional value of reputation and legacy for cold hard cash. Johnson is probably the only one of those playing who would be less than a 100/1 shot in a major and the established Tours, if they hold their nerve and withstand restraint of trade objections to a ban will survive.

It will be interesting to see how the challenger does.

The first tournament will have novelty value but how many will turn up?

Sport for Business enquired about admittedly a high end hospitality package with full meet and greet privileges, nice food, nice viewing points and even photographs with the stars, and we were quoted a little under €12,000 per head.

Instead we will tune in to see what it looks like on YouTube, where it is being shown free without any other TV deal in place.

It’s not the big bang that Greg Norman has been talking about. Commercial Director Sean Bratches left the organisation after some ill judged comments by Norman in respobse to a question about the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and even if Phil Mickelson is the last ‘commisioners pick to be named the field has more curiosity than sporting value.

Sponsors will play a part in detarmining the long term sustainability as well with RBC immediately severing their relationships with Johnston and McDowell last night.

It’s only money though we guess, and there is no shortage of that in this whole story.



Sport for Business Partners