LIV Golf wanted world's TOP 12 PLAYERS at start, including Tiger and Rory

The New York Times has revealed the original proposal of LIV Golf included recruiting the biggest names in the game, landing a TV deal and not provoking the PGA Tour into hostility.

Matt Chivers's picture
Mon, 12 Dec 2022
LIV Golf wanted world's TOP 12 PLAYERS at start, including Tiger and Rory

LIV Golf's original concept had lofty targets aiming to recruit the best players in the world, land a television deal and avoid a hostile response from the PGA Tour.

According to documents reviewed by the New York Times, the "Project Wedge" plan formed by McKinsey & Company revealed the "need to sign each of the world’s top 12 golfers, attract sponsors to an unproven product and land television deals for a sport with declining viewership - all without significant retaliation from the PGA Tour it would be plundering."

The firm listed Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods as part of their recruitment list. Of the top 12 players that the plan identified, only Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson were signed with lucrative contract offers.

McKinsey reportedly planned for three outcomes of LIV Golf: a struggling start, existing alongside the PGA Tour and being the most prominent force in the sport.

The best-case scenario projected LIV Golf to have at least $1.4 billion in revenue by 2028. According to The Times, as the rebel series failed to attract a number of big names and suffered a "severe response from golf society," they stand to lose $355 million before interest and taxes in 2028.

The Times also reported that LIV Golf intended to form a board with members from sports, business and politics. The most notable names they considered were NBA icon Michael Jordan, former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Nike executive chairman Mark Parker.

You could say these revelations have come at a timely point in 2022. They cap off what has been an incredibly mad year in professional golf where we have seen Greg Norman launch a rival league funded by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

Woods and McIlroy may have been the top targets for LIV Golf's initial birth phase, but both major champions have recently called for Norman to leave his role as CEO of the breakaway league.

The Australian has rejected the claims that he could be replaced by former TaylorMade boss Mark King, stating "they’re saying whatever they want to say. It has no bearing or effect on me. I’m going to be with LIV for a long, long period of time."

At the end of November, LIV announced three new events in Mexico, Singapore and Spain for the new 14-event season in 2023. The new schedule is set to visit six countries and feature 60 players.

The Saudi-financed league has secured El Camaleon and Valderrama with their events in Mexico and Spain, two venues which were previously used on the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

LIV may have plundered players from the Tour, but this didn't come without retaliation. These players were suspended which then caused an antitrust lawsuit to be filed by 11 players (now just three).

Despite reports linking LIV Golf to Fox Sports, the controversial tour is yet to announce a broadcast deal. Each event of the inaugural LIV season was shown on YouTube.