LIV looking into introducing women's tour, mixed-gender tournaments

June 27, 2022
Sports BizGolf
SOURCE: KIERAN CLEEVES/PA IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: KIERAN CLEEVES/PA IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Fresh off its controversial first event, the Saudi Arabia–backed LIV Golf series is charting its next moves — and it looks like women’s golf will be one of them. LIV confirmed Thursday that it’s exploring the idea of rivaling the LPGA, furthering concerns about how sportswashing might alter the global sporting landscape as we know it.

The details: A spokeswoman told Front Office Sports that LIV Golf is “looking and considering all opportunities,” from launching its own women’s tour to hosting mixed-gender tournaments.

  • The Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund that finances LIV Golf, is no stranger to the women’s game. It backs multiple events on the Ladies European Tour, including the Aramco Saudi Ladies International that counts world No. 4, New Zealander Lydia Ko, as a champ.

Zooming out: Golf is currently the poster child of the tug-of-war relationship between established American-based sports institutions and international sportswashing counterparts, with the latter having a financial upper hand.

  • PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan admitted last week that the tour “can’t compete” with the PIF’s money, meaning the LPGA — whose players bank less than one-fifth of their similarly-ranked male equivalents — could lose the battle faster.
  • Arguably, brands could save the day. As companies begin wearing their values on their sleeves, opting out of sportswashing — and voiding endorsement deals with top defectors talent — could dent the LIV events’ legitimacy. Watch this space.
Sports BizGolf