LIV rebel series expected to unveil ‘huge acquisitions’ after break

LIV Tour expected to unveil 'huge acquisitions' after break - SHUTTERSTOCK

LIV Tour expected to unveil ‘huge acquisitions’ after break – SHUTTERSTOCK

The LIV Golf Series is set to go eerily quiet for a few weeks, as the Saudi rebel circuit takes a month-plus break in between its third and fourth events.

Yet while the PGA Tour might be glad of the calming in hostilities while it stages its £60 million end-of-season play-offs, the warning from the Greg Norman enterprise is that come the last week of August the big-name exodus will reach a new level of controversy.

“There’s more stuff coming,” Norman said, as the latest £20 million jamboree concluded here at Trump National. “Put it this way, we wouldn’t have put the announcement out earlier about launching the league next year if there wasn’t a very clear indicator of how solid we feel about the players we’ll have going into next year.”

With big names such as Hideki Matsuyama and Open champion Cameron Smith being rumoured strongly to be joining, as well as many other high-profile players, there is a burgeoning theory that there will a raft of heavyweights announced on Aug 28 after the Tour Championship – which will see the FedEx winner walk off with £15 million – and then after the Presidents Cup on Sept 25.

“There will be some huge acquisitions, deals that are already done,” a source said. “LIV will then go into the first season of the LIV Golf League, with its 14 tournaments around the world, saying, ‘We are full up’ and presenting a picture of stability.

“Of course, the feelers will still be out to lure the superstars and there are no hard and fast rules. But the overriding message will be of a fully-formed entity, which has put in roots and is here to stay.”

The next two events will also be held in the United States, in Boston on Sept 2-4 and Chicago on Sept 16-18, before heading to Thailand on Oct 7-9 and then to Jeddah, which will host the finale of the individual season on Oct 14-16, featuring £22 million in bonuses to the top three golfers in the yearly standings.

On Oct 28-31 LIV returns to the US to close 2022 on another Trump course, Doral, the annual Miami stop on the PGA Tour from 1962 to 2016. It will host the £40 million team climax and after this last week’s experience there can surely be no doubt that the former President will be in attendance.

Hideki Matsuyama is strongly rumoured to be joining the rebel series - GETTY IMAGESHideki Matsuyama is strongly rumoured to be joining the rebel series - GETTY IMAGES

Hideki Matsuyama is strongly rumoured to be joining the rebel series – GETTY IMAGES

The 76-year-old has been here throughout this 54-holer and drawn bigger crowds than the players, with several hundred congregating outside the clubhouse for an occasional glimpse, while chanting: “Four more years.” With Trump expected to declare his intention soon to run once again for the Republican nomination for the 2024 election, this has seemed less like a sports competition and more like a political rally.

Elsewhere, there were traditional golfing Sundays taking place, not least at Fairmont, up the road from St Andrews, where American Sean Crocker fended off resurgent Englishman Eddie Pepperell to lift the Hero Open title. Crocker carded a final round of 68 to finish on 22 under and a shot ahead of Pepperell, who shot a closing 65.

“It’s pretty cool, but man, winning a golf tournament is not easy and Eddie did not make that easy for me either,” Crocker, 25, said. “On that four-footer to win on the last, I was nervous as hell. I’ve never felt pressure like it. It’s my first win as a pro, so that putt looked like it was 20 feet.”

Pepperell, 31, was understandably delighted with his first top-five in three years, having slipped from 32nd in the world to 551st. “I am proud,” Pepperell said after a round of eight birdies and one bogey.

“It was pretty flawless until the ninth and then it felt far from flawless for a few holes and I had to figure it out because there were some tough tee shots coming in but I just trusted my routines and from the fairway in I felt like I played great. I haven’t been in this position for a long, long time but by and large I think I did a good job.”

At the Women’s Scottish Open, Japan’s Ayaka Furue fired a stunning final-round 62 to prevail at Dundonald Links in South Ayrshire. Furue started the day four shots off the lead shared by Lydia Ko and Celine Boutier, but fired 10 birdies, including six in a row from the sixth, to secure victory in an event co-sanctioned by the LPGA and Ladies European Tour.

The 22-year-old, who was still an amateur when she won the first of her seven titles on the LPGA of Japan Tour in 2019, finished 21 under, three shots clear of Frenchwoman Boutier and goes into this week’s Women’s Open at Muirfield full of self-belief.