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Will LIV Golf Diminish PGA Tour Events Just like the Travelers Championship?


CROMWELL, Conn. — The Travelers Championship in central Connecticut, contested on a golf course beside cornfields, is celebrating its seventieth anniversary this week, which makes it one in every of the oldest constantly operated PGA Tour events. Through the many years, the tournament has modified names and venues, but in a small state lacking knowledgeable franchise in one in every of the 4 leading North American sports (the N.H.L.’s Hartford Whalers left 25 years ago), the Travelers has been a prized mainstay of Connecticut’s sporting calendar.

It has also been beneficial to the PGA Tour, reliably drawing a number of the biggest crowds of the tour season. It’s beloved by golfers due to its homespun approach that showers players’ wives and youngsters with personal attention, and that in turn has produced a bunch of marquee winners like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson.

The 1995 winner was Greg Norman, then the No. 1-ranked men’s golfer worldwide. Norman is the chief executive of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, which has roiled the PGA Tour by luring top golfers with guaranteed contracts value lots of of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Within the span of two months, the upstart circuit has threatened the primacy of the PGA Tour, and, potentially, the tour’s legacy events just like the Travelers — which, along with entertaining southern Latest England golf fans, has attracted sponsorships which have led to greater than $46 million in donations to 800 charities.

The chief beneficiary most years has been a camp in northern Connecticut that helps about 20,000 seriously unwell children and their families annually and was founded by a state resident, the actor Paul Newman.

The main focus of the extreme showdown between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, whose major shareholder is the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, has been garish monetary offers to already wealthy golfers — together with a bunch of geopolitical underpinnings — but unseen within the struggle are other connected entities, like Connecticut’s treasured golf tournament.

Could LIV Golf, which has planned eight events this yr, including five in the US, eventually upend or diminish the Travelers Championship and the opposite 30-plus PGA Tour events prefer it across the country? Already, Mickelson and Johnson, who were recently banned from the tour together with every other LIV Golf defector, are missing from this week’s field. Mickelson, 52, probably wouldn’t have played, but Johnson, the 2020 champion, had enthusiastically promised in February to return to Connecticut.

Standing on a hillside within the fan gallery overlooking the 18th hole throughout the first round of the Travelers on Thursday, Jay Hibbard of Woodstock, Conn., said Johnson was missed, “but not that much.”

“Dustin took the cash and made a selection, but I don’t come here to root for anybody golfer,” Hibbard, 39, said. “Most golf fans come for the atmosphere and to see great golfers up close. And there’s enough other major champions out here this week.”

Standing nearby, Mike Stanley of Plainville, Conn., said: “It’s a bit depressing to see things get split up because I believe it’s natural to want all the most effective guys playing together. But there’s still a bunch of top guys — I used to be following Rory McIlroy today after which Scottie Scheffler.”

Scheffler and McIlroy are first and second in the boys’s world rankings and were joined within the Travelers field by 4 other top 15 golfers. In contrast, no player committed to the LIV Golf tour is ranked within the worldwide top 15.

Contained in the players’ locker room here this week, Sahith Theegala, a 24-year-old PGA Tour rookie, said the players his age are of the same mind: Their loyalty is to the PGA Tour.

“I come from a modest upbringing,” Theegala said, “and I feel just like the value of cash has been type of lost. It just looks like one million dollars, which loads of guys earn on this tour, gets thrown around prefer it’s nothing, right?”

Asked if he was frightened concerning the way forward for PGA Tour events just like the Travelers, Theegala shook his head.

“There’s a history and legacy of this tour that the young guys have longed to be an element of,” Theegala said. “A recent tour has no standing; you’re literally just playing for money.”

A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series

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A recent series. The brand new Saudi-financed, controversy-trailed LIV Golf series held its first event in June. But what’s it? Who’s playing it? What’s all of the hubbub, and how will you watch it? Here’s what to know:

What’s LIV Golf? The series is an upstart skilled golf circuit bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Its organizers hope to position it as a player-power-focused alternative to the PGA Tour, which has been the best level of professional golf for nearly a century.

Who’s playing it? The 48 players within the initial LIV Golf event weren’t exactly a who’s who of golf, and plenty of of the largest names in the game, equivalent to Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, have stayed away. But there have been big names and former major champions, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio García.

What’s attracting the players? The LIV Golf events are the richest tournaments in golf history. The primary tournament’s total purse was $25 million, and the winner’s share was $4 million. The last-place finisher at each event was guaranteed $120,000. That’s on top of the looks fees and nine-figure signing-on payouts some players have accepted.

How can I watch the brand new tour? Despite its high-profile golfers and its big-money backing, LIV Golf has not yet secured a broadcast rights agreement in the US and will likely be shown on lesser-watched streaming services in much of the world. In the US, this week’s tournament will likely be available via live streams on LIVGolf.com, YouTube and Facebook.

He added: “You possibly can’t buy clarity of mind and twiddling with a transparent conscience.”

Joanna Aversa of Waterbury, Conn., who was attending her first Travelers, wondered if LIV Golf’s entry into the boys’s golf marketplace won’t broaden the appeal of the game.

“Up to now, the golf community has been painted as being very elitist,” she said. “Possibly with some golfers exiting for these big contracts, we’d get a complete recent wave of fans who feel more comfortable because they don’t must know all the highest people and things like that. They’ll just come out for the great golf and have a good time.”

Financially, officials for the Travelers said the event was on sound footing. Nathan Grube, the tournament director, said ticket sales for this yr’s event had outpaced the 2019 tournament, which was the last time the Travelers was not restricted by the pandemic. Corporate hospitality tents are sold out. With all net proceeds going to charity, the entire donation, which was greater than $2.2 million last yr, is anticipated to rise.

“That is place to be at once,” Grube said.

The Hole within the Wall Gang Camp for sick children that Newman founded in 1988 opened this yr on the identical day as the primary round on the Travelers. The organization has hospital outreach programs that bring the summer camp experience to the bedsides of kids at dozens of locations throughout Latest England and the Mid-Atlantic states. All programs, that are dedicated to assisting children with cancer and other diseases like sickle cell anemia and blood and metabolic disorders, are provided freed from charge.

“Being the first beneficiary of the Travelers Championship has allow us to expand our reach,” Ryan Thompson, the camp’s chief communications officer, said on Friday. “It’s so rather more than a golf tournament; it’s a source of community pride for all it contributes.”

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