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The LIV Golf League is set to play its first event of 2023 in six weeks and right now it doesn’t have a full schedule announced, has not filled its 48-player roster or set its 12 four-man teams, is still seeking Official World Golf Ranking points and is waiting to disclose some sort of TV deal.
It’s getting late early.
For all the scrambling LIV Golf did to launch in 2022, it had its full schedule announced more than two months prior to the first tournament. And that was considered crazy.
The first event is scheduled for Feb. 24-26 at Mayakoba in Mexico, but LIV Golf has not announced its full slate of tournaments, so far putting forth dates in Arizona, Australia, Singapore, Oklahoma, Spain and West Virginia.
Venues used in 2022—including England, Boston, Chicago, New Jersey and Miami—are expected to be announced soon but the fact is at this point only half the schedule has been put forth. And it might be another week or so before it is disclosed, putting LIV within a month of its start.
Perhaps more troubling is the lack of big-name defects from the PGA Tour. Although LIV Golf was more than pleased with the abundance of talent it signed last year, the addition of a top-five player such as Patrick Cantlay has been denied by the golfer himself and it appears that LIV Golf will sign far less notable players to fill out its roster.
The Official World Golf Ranking question still hovers over the League, which appears to not have been given much feedback on its bid.
But the OWGR seems to have gone out of its way to tweak LIV Golf when it announced last month that a Mexican developmental tour had been granted accreditation for 2023 after a “16-month” review process and noting it has 36-hole cuts and an open qualifying process.
While many were seized on the 16-month wait, LIV Golf argued that it should not apply in LIV’s case. It has been noted repeatedly that the OWGR handbook allows for leeway and that a review process for LIV Golf is not the same as one for a five-year-old Tour (the Mexico circuit has been around since 2017) that was attempting to prove itself.
The 36-hole cut and qualifying process, however, seems to be a slap to LIV Golf, which so far has made no moves to change its no-cut, locked-in fields. That’s not to say it wouldn’t change if so required, but for now the wait continues—as LIV players continue to slip down the OWGR list.
And then there is the TV deal that seems crucial to gaining momentum among sponsors for the team format. LIV executives have said they are confident a deal will be struck, and the Sports Business Journal recently reported that the CW Network was a strong possibility for LIV’s landing spot.
While there will inevitably be jokes made about CW—a good deal of its afternoon scheduling is Court TV-type programming—the network is in more than 220 cities across the US, with many of them having their own local news programming. The network is common across most cable offerings, and it’s fair to point out that early-round coverage of both the US Open and British Open now lands on USA Network, which offers a good bit of the same type of programming.
LIV Golf would be its first sports property, and indications are this would not be a “pay-for-play” deal that has been widely associated with deals in the works with Fox Sports. The sense also is that CW would give LIV Golf plenty of promotion, which is something it really needs.
Still, add it all up and the good vibes and momentum coming out of the last LIV Golf event in October seem to be replaced by numerous questions. It hasn’t helped that two high-level executives have either left or been forced out, leading to more uncertainty with the new season so close.
Regardless, a good bit is undoubtedly going on behind the scenes, meaning a flurry of activity and announcements should be forthcoming over the coming weeks.