Investment in new 10-event International Series, which will debut in March as part of the Asian Tour schedule, increases to $300 million
LIV Golf Investments and CEO Greg Norman announced Tuesday an increased investment in the Asian Tour by way of a series of 10 events that will now be called the International Series.
When Norman was named CEO in October, he announced along with the Asian Tour a 10-year investment of $200 million that has now been raised to $300 million, with purses ranging from $1.5 to $2 million in a series of events that will be part of the Asian Tour.
Norman, along with Asian Tour commissioner Cho Minn Thant, said the series will begin in March in Thailand and then move to places such as England, Korea, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Singapore, China and Vietnam. The tournaments will be incorporated into the Asian Tour’s 25-event 2022-23 season.
“We are setting the Asian Tour up as a powerful new force on the world golf stage,” Norman said in Saudi Arabia, where this week’s PIF (Public Investment Fund) Saudi International is taking place.
The Saudi event, which has attracted 21 of the top 50 players in the world, is now part of the Asian Tour schedule after being dropped by the DP World Tour (formerly European Tour) after three years. Dustin Johnson is the defending champion.
“In my 40 years as a professional golfer, I’ve seen many parts of the world that have benefitted tremendously from golf and its growth and development,’’ Norman said. “We now have the opportunity to do that in the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East with this incredible investment platform. Everyone benefits — professional players, amateurs, grassroots golf, fans, economies, communities, stakeholders. I’ve never been so optimistic about the future of the sport.”
In October, Norman, 66, announced his association with LIV Golf Investments, backed by the Private Investment Fund, which operates on behalf of the government of Saudi Arabia. Norman will be chief operating officer of the enterprise, as well as commissioner of a long-rumored and discussed new league — currently with the working title of Super Golf League — that is attempting to entice top-ranked players around the world with guaranteed signing bonuses, big purses and a schedule with 54-hole events and no cuts.
With sanctioning by the Asian Tour, the new venture would in theory be allowed to offer world ranking points to its participants. The new International Series is expected to be the place where top players can earn their way onto the new circuit, as the league proposes to have relegation of its lowest players.
“We are on the threshold of a new era for Asian golf,” Thant said. “The International Series is a new upper-tier of elite events, the likes of which the region has not seen before, that will mark the start of a phenomenal period of growth for the Asian Tour. It also signifies the beginning of our relationship with our new strategic partner LIV Golf Investments and its CEO Greg Norman.”
This week’s Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club is offering a $5 million purse and has attracted several top Americans, including Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele and Phil Mickelson. They are among more than 20 players with ties to either the PGA Tour or DP World Tour who have made the trip.
This is the first event of the new Asian Tour season but it is not part of the International Series.
The first International Series event is scheduled for March 3-6 at Black Mountain Golf Club in Thailand, with a $1.5 million purse. The next event is scheduled for June 9-12 at Centurion Golf Club in London and will feature a $2 million purse.
The proposed Super Golf League, funded by the Saudis, has been discussed for months, and Norman has hired several high-level executives to install a structure for the new league. Another proposed league, the Premier Golf League, also remains in play, although several of those associated with it originally broke off to join the Saudi group.
The next big step is the announcement of a roster of players who would participate in the SGL, which, in theory, would be disruptive to the other major tours. How that will square with their PGA Tour or DP World Tour membership is the subject of considerable speculation. So far, no names have been announced as signing on for the new league.