LIV Golf popularity soars as Singapore gears up for latest event

LIV Golf popularity soars as Singapore gears up for latest event
Talor Gooch of the US holds up the trophy with his caddie Malcolm Baker after winning the 2023 Liv Golf tournament in Adelaide on April 23, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 26 April 2023

LIV Golf popularity soars as Singapore gears up for latest event

LIV Golf popularity soars as Singapore gears up for latest event
  • More than 77,000 fans attended LIV Invitational Adelaide last week

SINGAPORE: Despite the sapping heat and humidity of Singapore, there is a visible spring in the step of everyone involved with LIV Golf.

The success of LIV Invitational Adelaide last week was a major boost for the Saudi Golf-backed league, which is hoping to build on the momentum with its latest leg in the island nation.

The Grange in Adelaide was sold out months in advance and more than 77,000 fans attended the three-day tournament.

The quality of golf was excellent, too, with Talor Gooch shooting back-to-back 62s and taking a 10-shot lead into the final round, but winning by just three over India’s Anirban Lahiri in the end.

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, captain of Hy Flyers, said that LIV has had numerous requests in recent days to bring the league to different cities and countries.

“When Peter Malinauskas (premier of South Australia), took a leap and said we want the best players in the world — and let’s face it, LIV has some of the best players and some of the best characters in the game, whether you love them or hate them — he took a risk, but you saw what happened,” said the 52-year-old Mickelson, who finished tied second in the Masters earlier this month.

“And, then, the cities in Australia that initially kind of weren’t interested, now they are all interested and want to host us. And we are seeing that not only in Australia, but from other countries in the world.

“They want to have the best players and they know who’s going to be there. That’s a big asset that LIV has been able to guarantee who’s going to be there.

“So, it was a big step in Adelaide in showcasing what LIV Golf can be, and how much fun it can be, and how much fun the people have with a different energy and vibe to professional golf, and it’s just going to take off from here. There’s no stopping LIV Golf now. It’s on a vertical trajectory.”

Brendan Steele, Mickelson’s teammate, said fans need visit only one LIV event to see the difference.

“I think for me it comes down to providing a great product and show people what we’re doing out here. I tell everybody I can that they need to come out and see it and decide for themselves, and I think they will be really impressed,” he said.

“Anybody who comes out to an event, the response has just been fantastic, and I think as we move forward, we’re just going to see more and more momentum and more and more people wanting to show up and throw their support behind us.”

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson was overwhelmed by the support and enjoyment that the fans derived from being part of the Adelaide event.

“That’s what LIV should be, and that’s what is in its heart and its DNA,” said Watson.

“I think that’s what it can be every single week, and it will be when people start understanding what the real deal is here. There’s been a lot of controversy and a lot of things going on, but we are here to do the best we possibly can every single week, and it was fun seeing the fans support us.”

With three LIV Golf players inside the top four of the Masters, the issue of the league being granted Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points is once again catching heat.

“If you’re one of the majors, you’re not looking at keeping these guys out. You’re saying to yourself, ‘we want to have the best field, we want to have the best players, and these guys added a lot to the tournament this year at the Masters. How do we get them included?’” said Mickelson, now ranked 73rd in the world.

“We have to come up with a qualifying mechanism that is inclusive, and if the OWGR isn’t going to be inclusive, then they have to find another way. Maybe they take the top five or top 10 or winners of LIV, but they’re going to have to find a way to get the best LIV players in their field if they want to have the best field in golf.

“So, it will all iron itself out for the simple reason that it’s in the best interest of everybody, especially the majors, to have the best players.”

LIV Golf Singapore starts on Friday. The shotgun start is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. local time (5:15 a.m. KSA).