'I'd Be Stupid Not To Take It' - Westwood On LIV Golf Money

The 49-year old says his age is the main reason he couldn't turn down the chance to make big money

Lee Westwood speaks at a press conference for the LIV Golf Invitational Series on 8 June 2022
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lee Westwood has defended his decision to play in the opening LIV Golf Invitational Series event at London’s Centurion Club, citing the stage of his career as the primary reason.

Speaking before the inaugural tournament in the Series, Westwood, who turned 49 in April, said: “I’ve had a longer career than most. It’s my 29th season, but like you, if there’s a pay increase, at my age, I’d be stupid not to take it."

LIV CEO Greg Norman recently announced he had received a $2bn cash boost to grow the Series to 14 events by 2024, and Westwood sees the potential for a rival to the DP World Tour and PGA Tour as a good thing. He explained: “It’s competition, it’s good, keeps everybody on their toes. Trying to achieve as much as they want to achieve. LIV is there, they’ve made the statement to try not be a threat. There are 14 events, I don’t see why the Tours can’t co-exist. Competition is good."

The Saudi-backed start-up has been at the centre of huge controversy in recent months, with one of the biggest sticking points for many the source of the funding, with accusations of sportswashing. Meanwhile, the DP World Tour and PGA Tour refused to grant releases to players to compete in the 54-hole tournament, so any of its members who do so could face disciplinary action. 

Several players have resigned from the PGA Tour in recent days, including Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia, but Westwood explained he doesn’t see his appearance as an issue. He explained: “We’ve all played in Saudi already, we’ve been given releases to play there, this is no different, I’m educated on it. I’ve done in the past, we can play wherever we want.”

One thing Westwood does concede is that his future in the Ryder Cup – and as a potential captain – could be under threat. There are suggestions players who compete in the Series will be banned from the competition, but although acknowledging it is up in the air, he remains hopeful it won’t be an issue. He said: “It’s something I have to take into account. I’m not sure about my playing days, I’m 50 next April, but captaincy could be in jeopardy as well. Myself and Ian [Poulter] are members of the PGA Tour and that’s had no effect. LIV Golf is another Tour, so why should it be any different?”

Westwood’s comments largely echo ones he made before last month’s British Masters at The Belfry, where he said: “I have to do what’s right for me,” and addressed concerns about the source of the funding, saying: “We’ve played European tour events in Saudi Arabia. I’ve had releases from the PGA Tour saying that I can go play in Saudi Arabia. So it's been no problem to them in previous years."

The opening event of the LIV Golf Invitational Series has a $25m purse. Of that, $20m will be distributed in individual prize money, with $4m for the winner and $120,000 for the player finishing last. The remaining $5m will be shared between the top three teams. So far in 2022, Westwood stands at 170th on the PGA Tour money list, with earnings of $335,892. 

The former World No.1 is part of an all-English team, Majesticks, along with captain Ian Poulter, Sam Horsfield and Laurie Canter. He'll tee it up in a pairing with Bernd Weisberger and Justin Harding in the first of the three-round tournament. 

Mike Hall
Mike Hall

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.