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After putting off an announcement for weeks, it appears that LIV Golf is set to unveil its 2023 schedule in the coming days, certainly by the end of the week. And it’s not like it can be put off much longer, with the Feb. 24 opener in Mexico just a month away.
Reasons for the delay are due in part to the relatively volatile nature of securing venues, with limited sites available that can host a professional golf tournament.
But it is also clear that there has been some meddling by LIV Golf’s Saudi supporters, who seemingly stayed out of the day-to-day workings last year as an eight-tournament schedule was pulled off with very little lead time.
Now, with all of last year and the offseason to get this finalized, LIV Golf has put off the full schedule release several times, announcing only a handful of events and failing to finalize the entire program.
The reason likely has something to do with LIV’s Saudi bosses wanting an event to be played in Saudi—something which was not in the plans late last year as LIV Golf was wrapping up its Invitational series.
LIV Golf officials have not commented on the delays, nor the possible Saudi influence. But the original intention was to have the full schedule release on November.
When LIV Golf was playing its seventh event in Jeddah, there was no indication the league would play any of its events there this year. The feeling was that the players were already committed to the Saudi International, and that another event there was asking too much.
But something changed.
And if you want to play into the notion put forth by the PGA Tour in one of its court filings—that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) that underwrites LIV Golf is calling the shots—this certainly gives legitimacy to those claims.
When LIV Golf got to Miami for its season-ending team event in October, several players suggested that there were rumblings of a schedule change that would see them go back to Jeddah. The first such suggestion was that the first event of the schedule would be there, the week following the Saudi International. The players did not seem to be on board. Nor were they in favor of another idea that would have seen the opener played the week of Mayakoba—three weeks after the Saudi International on the same Royal Greens Country Club, pushing back an already-scheduled Mexico event.
While the Saudis pay the bills and it’s certainly within their rights to want to play an event in their home country, the idea is low on smarts for various reasons, perhaps the biggest of which is events staged at the venue outside of Jeddah simply to not attract a large gathering.
LIV Golf’s motto is “Golf, But Louder” and to launch a new season amid such a subdued atmosphere would have been foolish.
Here’s the problem: when do you go there?
Various iterations of the schedule have been leaked going back to last summer. None of them included Jeddah. So far LIV Golf has announced tournaments and dates for tournaments in Mexico, Australia, Singapore, Arizona, Oklahoma, Spain and West Virginia.
It is expected to go back to Venues where LIV played in 2022, including London, New Jersey, Chicago and Miami. That leaves three more locations, and if you are going to Jeddah, you almost have to go at the end of the season, given the oppressive heat in Saudi Arabia during the summer.
The original plan was to have the LIV Golf League conclude in September with its Team Championship in Miami prior to the Ryder Cup. It appears that the timeline will be stretched out, with the ending location still not disclosed.
The schedule should be announced soon. And it has proven to be far more difficult than anticipated.