Will Anyone Watch the LIV Golf Invitational Series?

Phil Mickelson
via Corn Farmer / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

After much back and forth, the LIV Invitational Golf Series is finally getting off the ground with the inaugural event set to be played in London in June. It has, to put it mildly, been an idea that has drawn strong opinions from a shell-shocked international golfing community who have not held back in their condemnation of the upcoming competition. In fact, the backlash had been so severe that the general feeling had been that the concept was dead in the water. But here we are on the eve of the first event and the reality is that the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which is funded by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, is very much alive. 

For further proof of that, you just need to look at the latest golf odds on offer and you’ll find detailed markets on all the LIV Golf Invitational Series events that are set to run throughout the course of 2022. The outright odds market on the opening event does, however, give you a strong sense of nostalgia when you see players like Lee Westwood priced at 28/1 and Graeme McDowell given odds of 50/1 to win. Indeed, you do feel like you are stepping back in time when you peruse through the names of the players who will make up the upcoming fields over 2022. But this begs the question, will anyone watch this spectacle that is creating so many waves in the golfing world?

At this stage, you may have your hand up to say that box-office attraction Dustin Johnson is the obvious exception, and you would be right. The world number 15’s decision to join the rebel league caught many by surprise, especially when you take into account that Johnson has accrued over $72 million on the PGA Tour.

Put differently, no one expected the 37-year-old to be seduced by the financial incentives that the Saudis were offering. In addition to that, Johnson also committed his future to the PGA Tour in February when quizzed on his possible participation in the LIV Golf League.  Of course, none of that matters anymore as Johnson has decided that his future lies away from the PGA Tour. With this in mind, perhaps we can expect fans of the two-time major winner to join the live YouTube broadcast of the tournament which is the primary way to watch this event. Crucially, none of the world’s biggest sporting networks have signed contracts with the LIV Golf League which is, in itself, an eye-opener and suggests that the organizers will have a fight on their hands to capture an intrigued audience.

Even with the help of Johnson’s curious supporters, the truth for the most part is that this is a field that could arguably choose to use public transport on the way to the Centurion Club in London and not be recognized by anyone. Ultimately, this surely means that the global golfing community will choose to give this competition a wide berth. Should more players decide to jump ship, then you imagine that public interest would pique. But as things stand, the old boys of yesteryear aren’t likely to encounter much fanfare.