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LIV Golf has barely been out of the headlines since its controversial launch in 2022 and the glare of the spotlight is even brighter now it has been announced the Public Investment Fund, which finances it, has struck a deal with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. But what does its name stand for?
It would be easy to assume the name LIV is an acronym, but it was actually chosen because it's the Roman numeral for 54. But why is that important? In an interview with Sports Illustrated shortly before its inaugural tournament in London, CEO Greg Norman explained there are two reasons why 54 matters.
One is do with the format of the the tournaments, while the other concerns the game in a more generally sense.
He explained: “It is the Roman numeral for 54, which has two meanings: 54 is the lowest score you could shoot if you were to birdie every hole on a par 72 course, so there is an aspirational aspect to the thinking. It is also the number of holes to be played in each event.”
The chances of any LIV Golf player shooting a birdie on every hole of a par 72 course are incredibly slim, despite it having some of the world's best players, including PGA Champion Brooks Koepka, on its books.
However, there is a $54m prize on offer to any player who defies the odds to achieve the feat, as revealed by the governor of the PIF Yasir Al-Rumayyan at the trophy presentation after the first event of 2022.
The other reason why 54 is so relevant is far more compelling, though. One of the eye-catching elements of the format of the tournaments is that there are only three rounds of play over 54 holes rather than the traditional 72 holes over four days.
That was introduced to help ensure each event is more streamlined than regular golf tournaments. Meanwhile, the 54-hole format plays into another aim of LIV Golf – to appeal to the younger generation.
The future of LIV Golf appears uncertain as the ramifications of the deal begin to become clearer, with Rory McIlroy one of the PGA Tour players saying he hopes the news means it "goes away" sooner rather than later.
Still, all the indications are that the current iteration - 54 holes a tournament and all - will be with us at least until the end of the 2023 season. While LIV Golf exists in its current form, its name reminds us that it represents an important aspect of the circuit.
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Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
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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