We could be set to witness one of the most important weeks ever in the history of professional golf and it will certainly be a week where the aftershocks are felt from it for many months and years afterwards.
That’s because this weekend the very first LIV Golf Invitational tournament gets underway at the Centurion Club north of London this week and the ramifications of that, particularly for the players that have confirmed their participation on this event and the USPGA and DP World Tours.
In this article, we’ll bring you all the latest pre-tournament betting on the LIV Invitational from bet365 Sport, as well as explaining its somewhat unusual format, set up and how the vast sums of money available at each tournament will be split between the individuals and teams.
Remember, you can follow all the action for the tournament using bet365’s Live Golf Tracker utility on the site.
We’ll also give you the rundown of the eight events that will form the inaugural LIV Invitational season and what the effects of this new series of events could be on the world of golf.
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What Is The LIV Golf Invitational?
The LIV Golf Invitational is a series of eight events for its first season, expanding to ten or more in the years thereafter.
It is funded by the Saudi Private Investment Fund, a massive stash of wealth aimed at developing alternative sources of revenue for Saudi Arabia other than oil. The fund is believed to have committed around £255m for the first year of the LIV Golf Tour, plus a further £2 billion for subsequent years.
Its foundation is being seen as a threat to the current status in the world of golf where the USPGA Tour and DP World Tour are amongst the most popular and prestigious tours around the globe.
Why Is It Being Seen As A Threat By The USPGA and Other Tours?
There are several reasons why the LIV Golf Tour is being seen as a threat to the USPGA and other golf tours around the world:
Vastly increased prize money on offer for each tournament ($25m guaranteed for individuals, plus additional millions available for the Team event).Only 3 rounds of competitionShotgun Start – All players will start at the same time on separate holes meaning a round will take 4-5 hours to be completed on average as opposed to 12-16 hours for a traditional PGA Tour or DP World Tour event.No Cut – All players will earn at least $167,000 at each event, whereas players who miss the cut at other tour events win nothing.Signing Fees – Many of the top players committing to the LIV Golf Tour have signed lucrative signing fees even before they have hit a ball in the event, some running into hundreds of millions of dollars.Likeness & Image Rights – Unlike the current tours which controls players likeness and image rights, the LIV Golf Tour gives players the rights to their own image and likeness, giving players a potentially lucrative additional source of revenue.The cost of Travel & Accommodation is covered by the LIV Golf Tour for players, whereas on other tours players must foot the bill of this themselves.
USPGA and DP World Tour officials did not grant players an exemption to play in these events which means that players that do were at risk at sanctions being applied to them, including being banned from the tours.
In response to that, a number of USPGA players including Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Charles Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Kevin Na have all resigned their membership of the US PGA ahead of the new tournament starting.
What Is The Schedule For The LIV Golf Invitational This Year?
There are a series of eight LIV Golf Invitational Events each with a $25m prize pool with $5.6million up for grabs for the winner of each event, apart from the final event of the schedule.
The tournaments all feature 48 players and will be hosted at:
LIV Golf 1 – June 9th – 11th, Centurion Club, London, EnglandLIV Golf 2 – June 30th – July 2nd, Pumpkin Ridge, Portland, Oregon, U.S.LIV Golf 3 – July 29th – 31st – Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S.LIV Golf 4 – September 2nd – 4th – The Oaks, Boston, Massachusetts, U.SLIV Golf 5 – September 16th – 18th – Rich Harvest Farms, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.LIV Golf 6 – October 7th – 9th – Stonehill, Pathum Thani, ThailandLIV Golf 7 – October 14th – 16th – Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaLIV Golf 8 – October 27th – 30th – Trump National Doral, Miami, Florida, U.S.
The first seven tournaments follow the same format with individual and team events played across the seven events.
However, the final event is the most exclusive with huge amounts to be won as the LIV Tour crowns its best player and team of the season over four rounds and four days.
What Sanctions Could LIV Tour Players Face?
While this has not yet been definitively stated, the USPGA Tour in particular has been particularly strident in stating what measures it could implement against players from its tour that take part in any of this year’s LIV Golf Events.
This ranges from fines right the way through to tournament suspensions and being booted out of all future PGA Tour Events, including team events such as the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.
There’s also the possibility that LIV players could also miss out on playing on some or all of the four Golf Majors that take place from April to July each year.
As yet though, no tour has announced exactly what sanctions any players will face.
However, the resignation of several LIV competitors from the PGA Tour in the United States is a move to pre-empt and avoid any punishment that would have come their way if they had retained their membership.
Who Are The Biggest Names Appearing At The LIV Golf Invitational?
There a number of Major title winners in the field for the first LIV Golf Invitational including Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen.
In addition, other famous players to have made the decision to play include Kevin Na, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Bernd Wiesberger, Pablo Larrazabal, Sam Horsfield, Richard Bland, Branden Grace, Matt Jones and Talor Gooch.
Other players include competitors from all over the globe, as well as a number of young amateurs hoping to make a name for themselves in the game.
The individual event will feature standard Stroke Play tournament golf over 54-holes, with no cut. All players start their rounds at the same time on different holes around the course, a so called Shotgun start.
However, there is also a Team Event running at each event and across the season which can earn players even more money on top of their individual event winnings.
What Is The Team Event?
The team event will see the 48 players in each event drafted by a snaking draft into 12 teams of four. Teams will wear the same colour shirts to help identify which player is on which team.
At the end of an event, the top team will also land a prize of $1m, which is shared equally between the four players on that team.
However, the winnings massively increase for the team event at the final tournament of the year, with the winning team earning $16m from winning that final event, and the team that finishes 12th earning $1m.
Who Should I Back To Win The First LIV Golf Invitational This Week?
Bet365 Sport have Dustin Johnson as their 9/2 favourite to win the event with Talor Gooch a 9/1 shot, Louis Oosthuizen at 10/1 and Sergio Garcia at 12/1.
As you would expect it is the most famous names that occupy the top spots in the betting with Kevin Na a 14/1 chance, Sam Horsfield at 18/1, Bernd Wiesberger 20/1, Justin Harding and Matt Jones at 22/1, while Ian Poulter is 25/1 and Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood are both 28/1.
This is an exceptionally open inaugural event and you can understand why the bookmakers have gone with the more consistent and well known golfers that have played at the highest levels for longest as their shorter priced options.
But in truth, almost anybody could win this event and for sheer value, I think Branden Grace at 35/1 is one of the best value bets out there, even as an each way option.
The first tournament gets underway on Thursday in London and it is going to be interesting to see how this reshapes the future of top level golf in the months and years to come.