What is the LIV Golf Invitational and why is it so controversial?

The LIV golf series officially begins today in St Albans

The LIV golf series officially begins today at St Albans (Image: Getty)

After months of controversy, the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series is set to start right outside this week London. Here we explain everything about the breakaway tour of golf.

What is the LIV Golf Invitational Series?

The LIV Golf Invitational Series is a new tour supported by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. The opening event will take place on Thursday at the Centurion Club in St Albans.

Meanwhile, seven more tournaments are planned for later this year, taking place in the United States and Asia.

Who plays?

Although LIV Golf’s events are not recognized by the official world golf rankings, players such as Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood have signed on to play and add Ryder Cup stars to the series.

Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell has joined the Rebel Tour (Image: Getty)

Former PGA Tour stars Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson will headline the Tour, with former Major champions Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell also starting in Hertfordshire.

How much money is offered?

The inaugural event will boast nearly £20m in prize money, with over £3m for the champion.

With no cuts, each player will be guaranteed just under £100,000 for playing in a tournament, with around £24m being shared between the top three players across the eight-event season.

In 2022, the tour’s total prize money will top £200m, with the final event of the season, a team championship, containing less than £40m in prize money.

Why is it controversial?

Since the public investment fund is the state asset of the Saudi state, LIV Golf has been accused of supporting sports laundry.

Saudi Arabia has a poor human rights record with the LGBTQ community, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was found by the CIA to have ordered the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

LIV Golf frontman Greg Norman has argued that the Saudis are trying to change their ways (Picture: Getty)

What are the rules?

A 48-man field will compete over 54 holes instead of the traditional 72.

There is no cut as the player with the lowest score after three rounds is the winner.

In addition to the individual competition, a team event will take place at the same time eight teams of four golfers – put together by nominated captains – contest another prize.

Instead of teeing off in pairs from the #1 and #10 holes, groups will start their rounds simultaneously across all 18 holes to speed up play.

MORE : Tiger Woods turned down $1 billion offer to join Saudi Arabia-backed golf’s rebel series

MORE : Phil Mickelson risks lifetime PGA Tour ban by signing up for Saudi Arabia-backed event

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Nate Jones

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