The PGA Tour’s top 10 might have pledged allegiance to its paymasters, but the Saudi rebel circuit threatening to change the course of golf forever is targeting the next generation of golf’s superstars.
World No.1 and this year’s Masters champion Scottie Scheffler is case in point.
Only two years ago the 25-year-old was PGA rookie of the year.
Now he is one of the faces of the circuit.
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LIV Golf, the entity overseeing the Saudi’s bid to revolutionise the male game, will target the next Scheffler.
As DP World Tour pro, Matt Southgate, told Sky Sports last week, “Five years ago, we didn’t know Bob MacIntyre, we didn’t know Scottie Scheffler, we don’t know Viktor Hovland or either of the Hojgaard brothers.
“When you start going through the list of players who weren’t on Tour five years ago, it’s quite significant.
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“Should they (LIV) have a stumbling block today because they can’t get the players of today, there’s nothing stopping them producing the players of tomorrow. That’s where it’s tough. If I was (CE) of the European tour) Keith Pelley, I’d be looking at how to stop them taking those players who will potentially be in and around the Saudi tour in five years’ time.”
The question is, why would the next generation be looking at LIV Golf when the green jacket and the history of winning majors drives youngsters to pick up a club in the first place?
Unlike the status quo, amateurs are being promised money. And plenty of it.
Where Shane Lowry once had to forgo the £500,000 (AUD$880K) winner’s prize cheque for taking out the Irish Open as an amatuer in 2009, those starting out their career could, indeed, pocket the prize money.
Amateurs are being guaranteed £96,000 (AUD $189K) paydays at the first seven events and the opportunity to compete for the AUD $5.6M first prize offering at each of the tournaments as well as the monster $126M up for grabs as part of the team prizes.
The UK’s Daily Telegraph reports the top six amateurs, including Alex Fitzpatrick, the younger brother of Ryder Cup player Matthew, have been sent one-year invites.
It’s a mouthwatering dollar to turn down.
LIV Golf confirmed to The Telegraph they had made contact with prospective members.
“We did invite several amateurs as part of our mission to develop the next generation of golf talent,” a LIV spokesperson told The Telegraph.
“They can stay amateur or turn pro.”
The comments come a month after Australian Greg Norman, the LIV chief executive, said he wanted to involve the “next generation players” in the augural series which begins at Centurion Golf Club next month.
“At the Shark Shootout [his team event on the PGA Tour], for 33 years I’ve tried to always invite a rookie, a younger player — Rickie Fowler, Matthew Wolff,” Norman told Sports Illustrated. “It was to reach out to some kid to give him a chance to start experiencing something new. And we have every intention of doing that with this as well. Give them a pathway.’’
As well as targeting the next generation, Masters champions Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia are said to be interested in joining the rebel tour.
Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson spun heads when his management also confirmed last week that he had applied for permission to play at the tournament.