The story from the primary day of the LIV Golf Worldwide Sequence, the Greg Norman-fronted, Saudi-backed enterprise that started with its inaugural occasion Thursday exterior of London, was by no means going be about birdies and bogeys.
The debut of the upstart insurgent tour with a crew factor to it — which has posed such a risk to the PGA Tour that the PGA Tour issued suspensions to any of its gamers who competed in it — just isn’t concerning the golf.
Not now anyway.
However we’ll get the golf half out of the way in which first. Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, with a 5-under 65, leads the three-day, 54-hole occasion getting into Day 2.
Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, the 2 marquee names lured to the tour by nine-figure assured Saudi cash (Mickelson for a reported $200 million and DJ for $125 million) are tied for seventh at 1-under par.
The essence of the golf at this occasion lies within the gamers who’re forward of Mickelson and Johnson. Somebody named Hennie Du Plessis is in second place at 4-under adopted by somebody named Phachara Khongwatmai and somebody named Scott Vincent, each of whom are 3-under.
The entire day, watched on a streaming broadcast — accessible on YouTube, Fb and LIV Golf’s web site — seemed form of like a golf match you’d watch on TV, however it seemed odd, typically a bit awkward. There have been no commercials and numerous golf to observe.
Dustin Johnson swings throughout Spherical 1 of the inaugural LIV Golf match. EPA
The TV announcers, paid to play this factor up prefer it’s greater than the upcoming one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Open Championship at St. Andrews when it comes to pageantry and significance to the historical past of the sport, did simply that.
And that was considerably comical. So, too, had been the commentators’ claims of large crowds on the grounds watching the golf and the way the occasion was “bought out.’’
The LIV Golf folks declined to announce the precise attendance, however there was apparently a cap of 8,000. For context, the U.S. Open at The Nation Membership in Brookline, Mass., subsequent week could have about 35,000 followers per day.
The Mickelson presence there, too, seemed odd. An on-course reporter interviewed him on the primary tee moments earlier than the primary pictures had been hit and joked awkwardly about how a lot she was trying ahead to see him “hitting bombs’’ and “seeing his calves’’ this week.
Mickelson wasn’t carrying a single company brand on any of his attire (they dropped him after his controversial feedback concerning the Saudis and the PGA Tour had been printed in February). He, too, weirdly was carrying a vest that had a Masters brand on it that seemed to be blacked out.
Your complete vibe of the match and the printed is clearly to attract a youthful viewers. The shotgun begin for the 48-man subject made the day of golf — about 4 ¹/₂-hour rounds — go rapidly.
Phil Mickelson waves Thursday throughout Spherical 1 of the LIV Golf match. EPA
There have been 25 black London taxis that drove the gamers to their respective beginning tees.
Talking of 25, the entire purse for the occasion is $25 million, the richest golf occasion ever.
There, too, is a crew factor to the occasion, with crew captains (Mickelson’s crew is named “Hy Flyers’’ and DJ’s is “Aces’’).
However there aren’t any World Rating factors concerned. There’s no minimize, not a lot ambiance and no strain since the entire gamers within the subject are going to make some fairly good dough by the point it’s over. So, what’s it? It’s a really high-priced exhibition for the time being.
The energy of the 48-player subject is as deep as a child pool. After Johnson, the World Rating of the gamers drops precipitously. And, fairly frankly, there are a selection of gamers within the subject even the ardent golf fan is hard-pressed to have even heard of. See: Hennie Du Plessis, Phachara Khongwatmai and Scott Vincent, who by the way in which, was the third within the Mickelson-DJ threesome and beat each them by two pictures.
In all, 18 of the 48 gamers within the subject are inside the highest 100 within the World Rankings. That implies that 30 are ranked exterior the highest 100, some properly under that. Solely 4 gamers are inside the highest 50.
Right here’s one other factor that doesn’t align with the LIV Golf purpose of attempting to attract a youthful viewers to the sport: Solely 20 gamers within the subject are youthful than 30 whereas 10 are over 40. Mickelson, the largest, hottest title within the subject, can be the oldest at 51.
Greg Norman, proper, embraces Dustin Johnson. EPA
This, in equity, was solely Day 1 of Match 1, and extra large names are anticipated to affix as this factor carries on, starting with Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, each of whom reportedly joined forces with Norman and can start enjoying within the second occasion of the collection this month in Oregon.
Make no mistake: This can be a spectacle of kinds and it’s a draw to curious eyes. What its endurance is will take some time to find out.