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Ian Poulter tees it up in the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event at the Centurion Club tomorrow, but as far as he’s concerned, it shouldn’t be seen as a controversial decision.
The Saudi-backed Series has caused plenty of concern in recent months. One of the issues has been the source of the funding, while another is the potential disruption to other tours. Indeed, the DP World Tour and PGA Tour refused to grant releases to players to compete in the tournament. However, Poulter doesn’t think it’s a big issue. He said: "We've played on the European Tour in Saudi Arabia over a number of years and the event has been a big event, it's had a world-class field. It's been a world-class tournament. I don't believe it should be controversial.”
Regardless of the contentious nature of the Greg Norman-fronted venture, it certainly appears to be here to stay. After the inaugural year’s eight-tournament Series, future years will see its scope widen, and reach 14 tournaments by 2024. Norman recently announced it has received a $2bn cash boost to enable that growth, and Poulter thinks there’s more than enough room to accommodate another tour. He said: “There is plenty of room to be able to have other great tournaments on other great tours we would like to compete in as well.”
To that end, the World No.92 is convinced that, as well as the 48 players competing in this week’s tournament, there are plenty of others who will be keeping an eye on the action with a view to getting involved in future events, particularly given its format. He said: “I definitely see other top players watching on this week and wanting to be a part of it. There’s a huge investment coming into the game of golf and sport in general. Definitely, other players will be looking in with interest this week and I think they will want to come and see what it’s all about."
That appears to already be happening, with Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed reportedly the next to sign up. Poulter thinks the format alone is likely to attract plenty of interest. He said: "The team format has always been something which most people have gravitated to and had their best time on the golf course. So it is a vast sum of money, but it’s a great platform to be able to build the game of golf and give back at the same time.”
Regardless of the format, Poulter explained that, ultimately, his decision to sign up for the series comes down to the extra ability it offers to provide for his family. He said: "The legacy standpoint is I'm trying to provide for my family which is the first and foremost thing I want to do."
All seven regular LIV Golf Invitational Series tournaments have a $25m purse, with the winner of each event earning $4m and $120,000 guaranteed to the player finishing last. A further $5m will be shared between the top three teams. October’s Team Championship finale will provide a chance to win even bigger money from a purse of $50m, far outstripping anything the DP World Tour or PGA Tour can offer.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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