LIV CEO suggests a women's equivalent tour
The GIST: Another day, another sportswashing story. While the men’s LIV Golf tour continues to rival the PGA, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman believes a women’s equivalent could grab headlines in the near future. Norman said he’d love to see a women’s LIV series develop, but at what cost?
The background: Men’s LIV Golf — and the suspensions, defections, lawsuits, and spats that have followed since its inception — is a contentious topic largely because of the sportswashing associated with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) that bankrolls the tour.
- The country’s human rights violations have been largely overlooked by some of men’s golf’s biggest stars, many of whom are locked into extended deals with LIV and cashing ridiculous guaranteed checks in the process.
- When it comes to women’s golf, Saudi Arabia has already dipped its toes in the water — February’s Aramco Saudi Ladies International featured a whopping $5M purse, while the PIF has also funded Ladies European Tour events.
The context: With women’s golf purses awarding significantly less than men’s, the threat of a LIV Golf–style tour looms large over the LPGA. While LPGA majors’ purses have increased dramatically in recent years, 2022’s average purse — excluding the five majors and the CME Group Tour Championship — was only $1.87M, compared to the PGA’s $9.1M.
- Unlike the PGA’s hostility towards LIV Golf, LPGA Tour commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said last summer that she would take LIV Golf’s call, as it’s her “responsibility to evaluate every opportunity” to promote the women’s game.
The lingering questions: Sportswashing continues to rear its ugly head, with the LPGA becoming its newest target. The tour’s golfers seem to have differing opinions, so will women’s golf see the same divisiveness currently polarizing the men’s game? And would the LPGA as we know it even be able to compete with a Saudi-backed tour? Watch this space.