2023 schedule, prize money, players, defectors, Bubba Watson, Patrick Cantlay, Donald Trump, Greg Norman, golf news

The breakaway LIV Golf series announced a 14-event league for 2023, with organizers aiming to expand their reach across the globe.

The Saudi-backed rebel series launched this year with eight events, vying for talent with the US PGA Tour and the Europe-based DP World Tour in a bitter battle that has created deep divisions within the sport.

Star players recruited by LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman include major winners Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia.

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LIV Golf said Wednesday that 48 players and 12 team franchises would compete in a 14-event Golf League next year.

Players will be competing for $405 million ($A579m) in prize money, with the season culminating in a team match play grand finale.

Organizers emphasized the schedule “will not compete with the majors, international team events or heritage events”.

The full list of tournaments will be announced at a later date. LIV Golf League players will also be expected to compete in International Series tournaments — events staged in partnership with the Asian Tour.

In total, LIV Golf will put on 25 tournaments worldwide in 2023.

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is expected to be revealed as LIV Golf’s latest big-name addition this week, according to The Telegraph.

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Bubba Watson is a two-time Masters champion. Harry How/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Watson, a former World No. 2, is said to be receiving a fee of more than £41 million ($A71m) and will first tee it up in Boston in September.

World number four Patrick Cantlay denied he was planning a move to LIV Golf without entirely closing the door on a future move to the rebel circuit rocking the game.

“I don’t have any plans at the moment to leave after the FedExCup,” Cantlay said when asked on the eve of the US PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit to address rumors he might be headed to the Saudi-funded series spearheaded by Greg Norman.

He said hearing his name linked to the controversial circuit that offers star players guaranteed appearance money as well as massive purses wasn’t a source of concern.

“I don’t take too much stock in outside noise,” said Cantlay, who acknowledged that the money up for grabs in LIV Golf was certainly notable.

“I think anytime anyone’s playing their profession, money’s a big contributing motivator,” Cantlay said.

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Launched this year with the backing of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, LIV Golf has attracted fierce criticism from human rights groups who say the venture exists as a tool to “sportswash” the kingdom’s international reputation.

The expansion announcement came as LIV prepares to stage its third event of the year this week at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey.

US players who have signed up to LIV Golf have been indefinitely suspended from the PGA Tour, meaning they are no longer eligible to play in the Ryder Cup, a team event that takes place every two years and pits the United States against Europe.

The DP World Tour fined its members who played in last month’s inaugural LIV event in London and banned them from three events, but no indefinite suspensions have yet been imposed.

European veteran Paul Casey, one of the latest players to sign with LIV, accused DP World Tour chiefs of “changing goal posts” with its decision to fine players who had not obtained releases to play on the rebel circuit.

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“Fines being handed out for playing without a release, I’ve played many a tournament without a release and was never fined, and suddenly the goal posts are changing,” Casey said at a press conference in Bedminster.

Casey and fellow new LIV recruits Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell meanwhile insisted they were not intending to damage the sport by signing with LIV.

“None of us are intending to damage golf or damage the Tour,” Casey said.

“At no time have I ever tried to damage the Tour in the decision that I’ve made. If it’s damaged, I think the questions have to be asked somewhere else.”

PGA Tour veteran Howell insisted that his decision to join LIV was not influenced by money but rather a desire for a new experience after 22 years on the PGA Tour.

“No, money was not a factor,” Howell said.

“For me, I’ve been (on the PGA Tour) for 22 years, and it’s been awesome. I’ve got nothing but great things to say about the PGA TOUR, what they’ve given me, the opportunities, et cetera.

“For me, this is something new. It’s exciting. 22 years with the PGA TOUR, I was ready for this, for a change.”

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