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Tensions rising at LIV Golf: Are players divided over prize money changes?

As details emerge from a recent meeting between players and officials, there is an air of uncertainty surrounding the league's revamped business model
 

We are constantly told that LIV Golf is here to stay. The new tour is still in its infancy and yet to spread its wings, but what will the finished article look like?

There are 12 teams, but soon they will become franchises, and each player will become responsible for the exposure and, ultimately, success. But does each player know the conditions of the deal? And could some players suffer dearly if their team doesn’t perform during the season?

That seems to be the case after Alan Shipnuck reported details of a meeting that took place between Greg Norman, other LIV officials, and players at the Dove Mountain Ritz-Carlton in Arizona ahead of the second event of the 2023 season.

The greyest area that arose during the meeting appeared to concern prize money and a player’s right to keep what they earn or if it must be re-invested back into their team.

“Last year the players kept their share of the team winnings but now that money goes back to the team,” an unnamed player told Shipnuck, who was writing for the Fire Pit Collective. “I heard one guy say, ‘Why are we standing on a podium spraying each other with champagne when we don’t get the money?’ And now there is talk that [LIV] wants to put more of the total purse toward the team component.

“But, again, guys have it in their contract they would be playing for $20 million on their own. So you can imagine there is a lot of conversation right now.”

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At the other end of the spectrum, Kevin Na used some colourful language when talking about the LIV format while admitting he wasn’t even sure of the details of his own contract.

“There is a s***-ton of money out here, and I already got a s***-ton,” he told Shipnuck. “If you play well, you’re going to win a s***-ton more. I’m not worrying about the details.”

Similar to the PGA Tour, the future of LIV will be determined by a player-led approach, and despite fast-forwarding the business plan to a 14-event schedule after the “monumental success” – their words, not ours – of 2022, it appears the Saudis are upping the ante in delegating responsibility.

It was also suggested that some players thought they had signed to play in 10 events in 2023, as opposed to 14, before LIV accelerated its plans.

Each franchise must be profitable if the Public Investment Fund is to reach its reported target of $1 trillion in assets by 2025, which could explain why prize money will be re-invested back into each team.

The $5 million put aside at each LIV event for the team purse could be spread across the top five teams on the leaderboard in future, as opposed to the top three teams in its current format.

The 12 franchises will reportedly go up for sale in 2024, but underperforming teams who earn less money could be under pressure and struggle to attract brand investment and sponsorship.

Some players left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf in the quest of less time for more money, but could they be under pressure more than ever now the existence of their franchises is in their hands?

If you thought the drama was over, think again.

The Slam podcast: Is LIV Golf division Greg Norman’s next hurdle?

Alex Perry and Matt Chivers discuss this and much more in the latest episode of The Slam podcast. You can use the buttons or the player below to listen, or you can find it wherever you normally get your podcasts.

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