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Scott Stinson: LIV Golf set for Year Two, but Saudi-funded league remains a curious business

Patrick Reed allegedly threw a tee at Rory McIlroy on the driving vary this week.

Word the usage of “allegedly” within the earlier sentence, as a result of Reed, one of many big-name defectors to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf enterprise, has grow to be one thing of a full-time litigant nowadays, with defamation lawsuits and authorized threats in opposition to dozens of individuals, together with golfers, journalists and golf commentators, from Brandel Chamblee to Bob Costas to Jake Tapper.

You are reading: Scott Stinson: LIV Golf set for Year Two, but Saudi-funded league remains a curious business

The alleged tee-projectile incident, purportedly as a result of McIlroy, a type of many defendants, ignored Reed on the vary on the DP World Tour occasion in Dubai, will little question add to the latter’s grievances in opposition to the media. Video suggests the tee was, at most, flicked in McIlroy’s normal path. Complaints are seemingly being amended proper now.

One other LIV Golf story this week has acquired a lot much less consideration: the discharge of its full schedule. Initially deliberate for November and delayed repeatedly since then, the revealing of the 14-tournament slate lastly occurred on Tuesday. And, as with every little thing with LIV Golf, it’s a puzzler.

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These 14 tournaments are unfold throughout 10 months. The season begins in 4 weeks in Mexico, and ends in November in Saudi Arabia. For a nascent league that drew tiny viewership numbers over its first, shortened schedule due to its lack of broadcast tv offers, you would possibly suppose there could be a concerted effort to construct momentum and viewers familiarity with a string of occasions in 12 months Two.

As an alternative of ‘Golf, However Louder,’ the LIV slogan might be ‘Golf, However, Like, Not Too A lot of It’

Not so: tournaments are sometimes spaced out by a number of weeks, even in prime golf season. There are two occasions in america in March, then it goes to Asia in April, returns to the States twice in Might, then strikes to Europe for one match that begins a month later, and one other in early July. So, over 5 spring and summer season months, that’s eight occasions, and simply 4 of them in america. The schedule concludes with one match in September, one in October and one in November. As an alternative of “Golf, However Louder,” the LIV slogan might be “Golf, However, Like, Not Too A lot of It.”

As an alternative of breeding familiarity, the LIV schedule will unfold in suits and begins, and even those that are all in favour of watching it’s going to go weeks at a time with out the chance to take action. The curious scheduling would possibly assist clarify why, when a U.S. tv deal was lastly introduced final week, it wasn’t with ESPN, Fox Sports activities, or any of the key broadcast networks, however The CW, a community that has by no means televised dwell sports activities, and even recorded sports activities, and is focused towards young-adult viewers with exhibits like Gossip Woman and Riverdale. The common golf viewer has most likely by no means watched The CW until they occurred to be in room when their teenager had it on.

Greg Norman, the cantankerous face of LIV, accurately famous that the TV deal will make its occasions out there within the majority of American houses, but it surely’s somewhat like going searching for a luxurious sports activities automotive and coming away with a scooter. Even the massive streaming companies, which can broadcast something, gave LIV a move. Simply this week, Main League Pickleball introduced offers with CBS and ESPN. Pickleball!

All of this might be regarding for some other upstart league, however LIV, funded by a bottomless properly of Saudi billions, doesn’t need to make any precise enterprise sense. Norman and his benefactors needed one thing to rival the PGA Tour, and LIV, on some stage, is not less than that. It poached plenty of PGA stars, and another guys, and it made quite a lot of golfers terribly rich (and even helped out non-defectors after the PGA sweetened its prizes in response).

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, left, walks off the course after the final round of the LIV Golf Team Championship at Trump National Doral Golf Club, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Doral, Fla. Saudi-funded LIV Golf has a television partner five weeks before the start of its second season, announcing Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, it has an agreement with The CW to air tournaments on the weekend and stream the first rounds on The CW’s app.
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, left, walks off the course after the ultimate spherical of the LIV Golf Group Championship at Trump Nationwide Doral Golf Membership, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Doral, Fla. Saudi-funded LIV Golf has a tv associate 5 weeks earlier than the beginning of its second season, asserting Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, it has an settlement with The CW to air tournaments on the weekend and stream the primary rounds on The CW’s app.Picture by Lynne Sladky /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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However even the gamers who signed up have to be questioning somewhat about what they’ve joined. On the finish of its first season there was hypothesis about an imminent TV cope with FOX, which is now not a PGA Tour associate and can also be a pure alliance with a league that counts Donald Trump amongst its most high-profile supporters. (Three of its tournaments will happen at Trump-owned programs.) Its gamers have plummeted down the Official World Golf Rankings, as LIV occasions aren’t acknowledged by that group. They could but be included into that factors system, which is essential for gamers in search of to realize entry to golf’s 4 main championships, but it surely’s exhausting to see how a LIV occasion, which is 54 holes, has no minimize, and a 48-man subject, might have the identical factors worth as even a daily PGA Tour contest, which is 72 holes, has a minimize, and begins with 144 gamers.

LIV can nonetheless preserve to have pioneered the idea of group golf, which is an idea that didn’t want pioneering. Fairly why any informal golf fan, or perhaps a devoted one, would develop a rooting curiosity in a set of 4 golfers given a random group identify and emblem stays a thriller. I went on the LIV web site to see if I might purchase a Fireballs hat, however alas no group merchandise is but out there. I might purchase considered one of two LIV-branded caps, although. Straight brim or curved.

LIV’s subsequent season begins in lower than a month.

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