With LIV’s season-opener just days away, why so silent?

Mark McGowan
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Jon Rahm and Greg Norman. Credit: LIV Golf

Mark McGowan

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For those counting, at the time of writing, it’s less than 48 hours until LIV’s 2024 campaign gets underway at the El Camaleón Course in Mayakoba, Mexico, but even at this late date, exactly who is playing and what teams they’re playing for is not concrete.

Rahm has gone, we know that for certain, and Tyrrell Hatton, Adrian Meronk, Lucas Herbert and Caleb Surrat have all reportedly signed up, but, again at the time of writing, even Rahm’s name is conspicuous by its absence in the ‘Player’ page on the LIV website, Rahm’s team is not listed, and, other than the schedule and a running banner advert informing us that hospitality tickets were available, that there is even an event, never mind the season-opening event, requires some Sherlock Holmes-esque delving to discover.

For all the money the PIF have invested, their public relations department are either criminally underfunded or criminally inept. So far – the Rahm move excepted – the reporting of player signatures has been done through various media outlets with inside knowledge. It’s six days since Meronk withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open and reporters – many of whom have enough credit in the bank to consider legit – were saying his move to LIV was a done deal.

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It’s 30 hours since the Hatton signing was announced by James Corrigan at The Telegraph, yet still there’s been no official confirmation of either move, and whatever way you look at it, a three-time Ryder Cup player and the recently voted DP World Tour Player of the Year jumping ship is big news. Not quite Jon Rahm level, but big news nonetheless, and you’d imagine that LIV would be shouting it from the rooftops.

This is in no way a suggestion that the news has been falsely reported. Anything other than Hatton and Meronk taking their first official LIV swings this weekend would come as a huge shock, but the last-minute way of doing business is like something we’ve become accustomed to during the January Premier League Transfer window. It’s like Transfer Deadline Day, but without Harry Redknapp talking to reporters through his SUV window and somebody waving a phallic-shaped blue toy on Sky Sports News.

There was finally some white smoke yesterday evening, with the official LIV Twitter – no, still not capable of calling it ‘X’ yet – account posting an image of Rahm and the caption “A NEW TEAM ARRIVES” with a series of Roman numerals below and accompanied by an hour-glass emoji. For those who are incapable/couldn’t be bothered deciphering the code, it reads 1.30.2024. January 30th, today. So today is the day we find out, presumably. Today, two days before the season starts.

Rahm has been officially confirmed since early December. If, as we’re lead to believe, the team aspect is so important and that LIV franchises are such hot commodities in terms of merchandise and sponsorship, how is it that the Tour’s biggest star and most expensive acquisition hasn’t even got an official team name two days out?

In contrast to last year when LIV targeted the sub-standard PGA Tour weeks to oppose, this year they’re going up against a ‘Signature Event’ at one of the most iconic venues in US golf. That’s a bold strategy to begin with, but becomes even bolder when you consider the lack of any kind of real promotion.

Rahm will draw additional eyeballs, that’s for certain, Hatton too, but unless the PGA Tour serves up another Sunday with the top of the board a ‘who’s who’ of ‘who’s thats?’ anybody watching golf this Sunday will be tuned to the action in Pebble Beach.

It’s ironic that, two years after LIV was declared ‘dead in the water’ following the publication of Phil Mickelson’s comments, that the league now boasts half of the current Major Championship Trophy holders, and more ironic still that it has continued to grow despite a comedy of marketing and promotional mishaps, but here we are.

On the eve of what could and should be a definitive year, the ‘Golf But Louder’ tagline may be the greatest irony of them all.

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