Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed breakaway golf league is finally here! It only took three months to announce the field. Originally set to be released in February, LIV Golf pushed back its announcement date despite Norman saying, “We were ready to start the week of the Genesis (Invitational).”
However, partially due to some courting by Phil Mickelson, LIV decided to wait until mid March during the week of THE PLAYERS Championship. It was then pushed back again to the week of The Masters in April. May arrived, and a leak said they’d release the field May 27th, but that didn’t happen either. Shocker.
Four days later, on May 31st, as the workday came to a close, at 8:30pm ET the list hit.
Finally, a field — for an event happening in a couple days!
The 48-man field confirmed by LIV Golf Media, depicts 42 names with six more to be announced in the coming days. There are your expected names, but plenty of surprises to go around as well. Here are five takeaways from the field announcement set to tee off June 9th at the Centurion Club in London, UK.
1. The Known Deserters
If you didn’t see this coming, you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months. When Greg Norman made his first public appearance to discuss the life altering money involved in joining the tour, a few well known professionals quickly took notice:
Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Kevin Na, and Sergio Garcia.
Since the initial report, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa joined the mix of those reportedly interested, as well as Americans Jason Kokrak and Masters champion Bubba Watson
While Kokrak and Watson are not featured in the field — the latter of which is currently out upwards of six weeks with an injury — Westwood, Poulter, Na, Garcia, and Oosthuizen are all featured on the field list for London. While they come as no shock, it’s still a blow to the PGA losing some captivating names with solid track records on tour.
2. The Guys You May (or may not) Know
Of course not everyone in the field is a well known commodity among the casual golf fans, but there are plenty of intriguing names Greg Norman has managed to procure.
Some of the bigger names include World No. 35 Talor Gooch, who logged his first PGA win in November, two time major champion and former World No. 1 Martin Kaymer, and Australian Matt Jones, who in January, alongside Cameron Smith and Jon Rahm, broke the single event scoring record at Kapalua.
Other more well known names include Bernd Weisberger, Hudson Swafford, Charl Schwartzel, Graeme McDowell, Richard Bland and Chase Koepka, younger brother of multi-major winner Brooks Koepka.
Among those in the younger crowd include former No. 1 Amateur Peter Uihlein, 2019 U.S. Amateur Champion Andy Ogletree, 2021 U.S. Amateur Champ James Piot (am), and 2021 NCAA D1 champ Turk Pettit.
Finally, and possibly the most interesting name of the bunch, is Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat. The Thai amateur is the youngest player to ever win an OWGR event at just 15 years-old. You may remember him after he made the cut at the Saudi International in February.
3. Phil Mickelson CONFIRMED
Despite his unsought courting on behalf of his fellow players, Phil was still very much in the mix to join LIV because of his now tarnished reputation in the eyes of the PGA Tour.
A cornerstone of the tour, Phil was expected to take on major leadership roles alongside commissioner Jay Monahan, but after comments in February dismissing the Saudi government’s history of human rights violations in favor of “life-altering money,” that vision quickly went awry.
While Phil did apologize, the result has been an exile from PGA events that has lasted
Just about three months and included a withdrawal from his title defense at the PGA Championship. As of June 6, Phil Mickelson has officially joined the LIV Golf League as one of the final six roster spots that were pending announcement. Mickelson is expected to make ~$200M in his deal with the LIV. You can read his statement below.
4. DUSTIN JOHNSON
This is easily the biggest name teaming up with the Shark, and much like Phil, this one comes as a surprise. In late February, shortly after Phil’s comments, a statement was released by Johnson’s camp committing himself to the PGA.
Just three months later, DJ is packing his bags. In a statement by his agent David Winkle, Johnson had been “contemplating the move for years. Ultimately, he decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it.” The World No. 13 is the highest ranked player joining the LIV field. The big question now remains: how much was that signing bonus?
5. Those Final Six Spots
With Phil taking one of the final six spots in the LIV, who else is joining the fray? Following Mickelson’s announcement, the final five players joining the LIV are as follows:
Itthipat Buranatanyarat (Thailand)
Viraj Madappa (India)
Travis Smyth (Australia)
Ian Snyman (Russia)
Kevin Yuan (Australia) The 48-man field is set for the LIV. Will it work? That remains to be seen, but the rumored, big money tour is on the verge of kicking off this weekend and we’ll see if it has the appeal and following to compete with the PGA Tour.