2022 was a year of upheaval and change in men’s professional golf with the emergence and establishment of the breakaway, Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit. A number of top-ranked players defected from the main tours to the new organisation, they included Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and even Open champion Cam Smith, who made the move later in the year.
LIV Golf is very lucrative circuit and those players who made the move were paid handsomely to sign up. They also make significant money at each of the LIV Golf events though prize money. One of the selling points of the LIV Golf circuit is that it challenges the golfing norm, it offers something new at the elite level, something different from the PGA Tour… But what exactly are the big differences?
A fundamental difference between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour is that LIV events are contested over just 54 holes. Strokeplay events on the PGA Tour are contested over four rounds – 72 holes. As are events on the other main world tours and, of course, the Majors.
LIV events don’t have a cut. The players don’t face the stress. All those who start a LIV event play all three rounds. Regular PGA Tour strokeplay events feature a cut after 36 holes. The standard rule on the PGA Tour is that players with the top-65 scores (plus ties) make the 36-hole cut and will contest the final two rounds. There are no cuts in the three FedEx Cup playoff events on the PGA Tour (FedEx St. Jude Championship, the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship.)
Limited LIV Fields
LIV Golf events feature a field of just 48 players. Depending on the time of year, regular PGA Tour events will feature a field of 132, 144 or 156 players. The FedEx Cup Playoff events on the PGA Tour feature reduced fields – From 70 in the St Jude down to just 30 for the Tour Championship.
LIV Golf events tee off using a shotgun start – All players begin at the same time at different tees on the course. PGA Tour events tee off from either the 1st or the 10th tees in the first two rounds then, generally speaking, all players tee off from the 1st in score order (with leaders going last) for the final two rounds.
The shotgun start means that LIV Golf rounds are completed far more quickly whereas each round of a PGA Tour event can take from dawn to dusk for all to finish.
LIV Golf features significant pay-outs for all participants. LIV events carry a purse of $25 million, of which $20 million counts towards the individual competition. First place receives $4 million down to $120,000 for the player who finishes in last (48th) place. On the PGA Tour, only those who make the cut will receive prize money (although as of this year, PGA Tour members are guaranteed payment of $500,000 for the season.) In addition, LIV offers further prize money for the…
LIV Golf events also feature a team competition. There are 12 teams of four players in each event playing for a share of $5 million with $3 million going to the winning team, $1.5 million to the second placed team and $500k to the team finishing third. There’s also a season-ending team championship where all teams get a pay day - $16 million to the winning team, down to $1 million to the team in last (12th) place. The PGA Tour has no team element… Except of course the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cups – Events which LIV players are not eligible for.
Pathway to participation
The PGA Tour has a clear pathway to participation – Feeder tours allow players to move up the ranks and earn their PGA Tour status. Events also feature Monday qualifiers giving others a chance to play their way in. LIV Golf features 48 players, who have been signed up. The circuit claims there is a pathway through its International Series but it’s hardly comparable to the PGA Tour where players truly earn their place rather than having their agents negotiate it.
Number of Events
LIV Golf has 14 scheduled events in 2023, including the season-ending Team Championship in Jeddah from November 3-5. By contrast, the PGA Tour for the 2022/23 wraparound season features 47 events and that includes all The Majors and the World Golf Championships. Those are the events carrying the most World Ranking Points. Which leads us to…
World Ranking Points
PGA Tour events offer Official World Golf Ranking points which means Tour members can accrue points in each tournament they contest on the circuit. The higher up the ranking they climb, the more chance they have of making the qualifying criteria to play in the Major Championships like The Open Championship. LIV Golf events currently carry no World Ranking points. LIV players have seen their World Rankings slide as they struggle to include other events into their schedules where ranking points are available.
Get the Golf Monthly Newsletter
Tips on how to play better, latest equipment reviews, interviews with the biggest names and more.
Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly.
Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
Which 12 Events Could Tiger Woods Play In 2024?
The 47-year-old is targeting a tournament a month next year, but which events could he play?
By Mike Hall Published
Relegated LIV Golfer Chase Koepka Withdraws From Qualifier Along With Former Ryder Cup Star
The LIV Promotions event will see the final three places in the 2024 LIV Golf League awarded - but two notable names will be missing from the field in Abu Dhabi
By Jonny Leighfield Published
Mickelson 2000 vs 2023: Which Version Of Lefty Hits It Further?
Phil Mickelson's ability to find some extra yards in the latter half of his career has been fundamental to his longevity
By Mark Townsend Published
13 Of The Best Irish Golfers Of All Time
We take a look at the best golfers from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
By Sam Tremlett Published
How Many Amateurs Have Won Professional Tour Events?
From Shane Lowry to Phil Mickelson, there have been some big names who won before they were professionals
By Mike Bailey Published
Do Tour Players Own Private Jets?
Journeying all over the world has never been so luxurious for the game's biggest names
By Andrew Wright Published
How Many LIV Golfers Have Won The Masters?
The LIV Golf player roster includes some star names and multiple Major champions have signed up. How many of them have won The Masters?
By Fergus Bisset Last updated
How Much Did LIV Golf Pay Ian Poulter?
England’s Ian Poulter joined LIV Golf in 2022 but how much was he paid and how much has he won so far?
By Fergus Bisset Published
How Much Did LIV Golf Pay Phil Mickelson?
Phil Mickelson was the biggest early signing for LIV Golf and his defection was controversial to say the least. How much did he get?
By Fergus Bisset Published
How Much Did LIV Golf Pay Joaquin Niemann?
Chile’s Joaquin Niemann was a high-profile signing for LIV Golf in the second half of 2022. What did they pay him?
By Fergus Bisset Published