DP World Tour member Matthew Southgate has sounded the alarm bells, believing the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational can still become the lead circuit in the sport despite a relatively low-key launch set for London in June.
The Greg Norman-led series will tee off at the Centurion Club this summer with 48-players set to contest the opening 54-hole $25 million no-cut event.
15 of the world’s top-100 players have reportedly registered to compete, including Phil Mickelson who is said to be signed up for all eight events in the series, however, many of the world’s best players have turned their noses up at the breakaway tour, pledging loyalty to golf’s status quo in the face of the huge sums of money being offered by the Saudis.
Not everybody is writing off the LIV Golf Invitational Series threat, however, with Southgate, speaking on the Sky Sports Golf Podcast, believing that it’s not golf’s current crop of stars that the tour needs to protect, but the bright lights of the game’s future.
“The most overlooked thing with the Saudi Tour at the minute is that everybody is focusing on the players of today and nobody is thinking of the players of tomorrow,” Southgate said.
“Five years ago, we didn’t know Bob MacIntyre, we didn’t know Scottie Scheffler, we don’t know Viktor Hovland or either of the Hojgaard brothers. When you start going through the list of players who weren’t on Tour five years ago, it’s quite significant.
“Should they have a stumbling block today because they can’t get the players of today, there’s nothing stopping them producing the players of tomorrow. That’s where it’s tough. If I was Keith Pelley, I’d be looking at how to stop them taking those players who will potentially be in and around the Saudi tour in five years’ time.
“If the Saudis decided to have a Q-school, that was free and with a prize fund, and open to be anybody around the world under 25, if there were 50 cards available then you would be sitting on at least a few superstars. The next generation of players are out there playing, and the coaches in the amateur game know who they are.
“The future of that golf Tour is based around having the superstars. Forget about the best players now, as they’re all signed into the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour. How they can possibly prevent the player of tomorrow [from joining] is what worries me.”