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LIV Golf 2024: Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton shake things up for new season

Everything you need to know about the 2024 LIV Golf season ahead of its start in Mexico on Friday; European Ryder Cup star Tyrrell Hatton is the latest high-profile name to make the switch to the Saudi-backed tour, joining fellow debutant Jon Rahm's new Legion XIII team

Jon Rahm, two-time major winner and the reigning Masters champion poses for a photo after joining LIV Golf (Photo by Scott Taetsch/LIV Golf via AP)
Image: Jon Rahm is the highest-profile addition to the LIV Golf tour ahead of the 2024 season

Who has joined LIV Golf League ahead of the new season? What has changed with the format and what is different for 2024? Key questions ahead of the new campaign...

Who has joined for 2024?

Tyrrell Hatton is the latest high-profile player to join the Saudi-backed circuit, with the Englishman making a last-minute move to join Ryder Cup team-mate Jon Rahm as part of a new team for the new season. The pair are joined by American Caleb Surratt, who was part of Team USA's winning Walker Cup team last year, and Kieran Vincent.

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Justin Thomas wishes Tyrrell Hatton was not moving to LIV Golf and hopes he has 'done his research'

DP World Tour player of the year Adrian Meronk withdrew from the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open last week and has signed with Cleeks GC, having won four times over the past 18 months and narrowly missed out on a place in Europe's Ryder Cup team.

Australia's Lucas Herbert has not teed it up since back-to-back DP World Tour starts last month on home soil, with the former Irish Open champion committing to Ripper GC captained by compatriot Cameron Smith.

LIV Golf had the inaugural LIV Golf Promotions event last month in Abu Dhabi, a 72-hole event offering three spots for the 2024 season, with Vincent, Kalle Samooja and Jinichiro Kozuma taking those places.

Vincent will join Rahm's Legion XIII and Samooja will feature for Cleeks GC in the new season, while Kozuma represents the Ironheads GC captained by Kevin Na. Andy Ogletree earned his promotion by topping the Asian Tour's International Series Order of Merit and will play for Phil Mickelson's HyFlyers GC.

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Butch Harmon believes Rahm's departure might increase the urgency of the PGA Tour to form its Framework Agreement with LIV Golf

Which players were already involved?

Masters champion Rahm headlines the line-up for the new season after signing last month, with reigning PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka, former major winners Mickelson, Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Bryson DeChambeau all returning for the new season.

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Brooks Koepka holds the Wanamaker trophy after winning the PGA Championship
Image: Brooks Koepka holds the Wanamaker Trophy aloft after winning the PGA Championship last year

Ryder Cup legends Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are back for a third year, along with Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey, with Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquin Niemann also notable names in the line-up.

Has anything changed in 2024?

Rahm's signing means there will be 13 teams involved this season, one more than the previous campaign, with all regular-season events remaining 54 holes in length, with a shotgun start and no cut.

The field each week will now comprise of 54 players, an increase of six, with two 'wild card' golfers in each tournament still able to compete for individual prizes and the season-long individual championship race.

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Jamie Weir explains why the Official World Golf Ranking board have come to the conclusion that LIV Golf players will not be able to earn world ranking points.

Each tournament offers a $4m prize for the individual winner and $3m to be split between the winning team, the same as last season, but the distribution of funds from the total prize purse has been adjusted to account for the extra players.

What about the scoring and standings?

A significant change has been made to the team scoring for the 2024 season, with each team's top three scores counting for the first two rounds and all the scores now counting for the final round.

One of the teams will also fail to qualify for the season-ending Team Championship, with seeding in place for the 12 teams who make it through. The team in 13th place will not compete but will still attend. The top 12 teams following the 13th regular season event will be seeded. The team that finishes in 13th place will not compete but will still attend.

Only the top 24 players in the season-long standings are guaranteed their 2025 spot in the league, with those finishing between 25th and 48th - providing they're out of contract - then needing to either be re-signed by their team or picked by another.

Those 49th and below will be relegated out of the league and need to enter the 2024 LIV Golf promotions tournament, which will take place later in the year and follow the inaugural edition last December.

LIV players in the majors and the Ryder Cup?

Events will continue not to have Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points on offer, meaning LIV Golf League members will likely fall down the world rankings, but players can still feature in the majors if they're eligible or hold an exemption.

European players will still currently be eligible to play in the Ryder Cup, providing they remain a DP World Tour member and compete in at least four regular tournaments per season, although they will continue to face fines and suspensions for playing in LIV Golf events without the required "conflicting event" releases.

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Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley says there has been a 'seismic shift' in golf following Jon Rahm's decision to join LIV Golf.

Some LIV Golf players have already won DP World Tour events this season, with Dean Burmester and Oosthuizen both registering two titles and Niemann also claiming a victory, although all LIV Golf members remain banned from competing on the PGA Tour.

Who else has been linked?

Tommy Fleetwood said earlier this month that he had rejected an offer to join LIV Golf, while Rickie Fowler quashed rumours over his future when he said he had "zero plans" to sign for the rival circuit.

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Rickie Fowler insisted he was not affected by Rahm's shock move to LIV Golf, but conceded it is not good for the sport to be divided

Reports in Norway have denied suggestions that FedExCup champion Viktor Hovland will switch to LIV Golf, with Tony Finau taking to social media to confirm he was planning to stay on the PGA Tour.

Jason Day, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele are among the other players to have previously distanced themselves from LIV Golf, while speculation has linked three-time PGA Tour winner Anthony Kim - who last competed in 2012 - as a possible addition to the roster.

Where will tournaments take place?

The 2024 campaign starts at El Camaleon Golf Course in Mexico ahead of a trip to Las Vegas the following week, with a Saturday finish to avoid a clash with the Super Bowl held in the same city, with early March seeing back-to-back Asian events in Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

A sign for Super Bowl 58 adorns a pedestrian walkway across the Las Vegas Strip ahead of the Super Bowl, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Image: LIV Golf visits Las Vegas during the same time as Super Bowl LVIII next week

Trump National Doral in Miami hosts an event the week ahead of The Masters, before LIV Golf returns to Adelaide at the end of April ahead of a tournament at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore a week later.

USA-based events will take place in Houston and Nashville either side of the US Open in June, while Valderrama in Spain and JCB Golf and Country Club in England host tournaments before and after The Open the following month.

The Old White course at The Greenbrier completes the regular season from August 16-18, with details of the individual championship and team championships yet to be announced.

What is next for LIV Golf players?

With Hatton becoming the latest European Ryder Cup player to join LIV, it remains to be seen what sort of agreement can be reached between its backers, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), and the PGA Tour to ensure the stars of the game can compete with each other on a regular basis.

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Jamie Weir explains why the PGA Tour has launched PGA Tour Enterprises, a partnership with Strategic Sports Group, and what this means for a potential agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund

The PGA Tour has specifically come out and said that a new $3bn partnership with Strategic Sports Group will not prevent an "ultimate agreement" being reached with PIF.

The deal, which includes an initial contribution of $1.5bn from the group led by Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group, has funded the launch of PGA Tour Enterprises, a new commercial venture designed to give players the opportunity to become equity holders in the tour.

The agreement has been made as negotiations continue between the PGA Tour and PIF. A Framework Agreement between the two parties, which stunned the world of men's professional golf, was announced on June 6, but an end-of-year deadline for a deal to be concluded had to be extended as no agreement was reached.

Until such point as an agreement is reached, the two tours and the game's biggest stars remain separated except for when some LIV players are eligible to compete at majors and/or choose to participate at selected DP World Tour events.

McIlroy softens stance on LIV defectors

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, a vocal critic of LIV Golf since it first launched in 2022, has said ahead of the new season that he had been "too judgemental" in his views about players switching to the Saudi-backed circuit.

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Rory McIlroy admits he has changed his tune by saying returning LIV Golf players should not be punished

"I think life is about choices," he told reporters this week, ahead of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. "Guys made choices to go and play LIV, guys made choices to stay here. If people still have eligibility on this tour [PGA Tour] and they want to come back and play or you want to try and do something, let them come back.

"I think it's hard to punish people. I don't think there should be a punishment [for returning]. Obviously, I've changed my tune on that, because I see where golf is and I see that having a diminished PGA Tour and having a diminished LIV Tour or anything else is bad for both parties."

Rahm was happy to hear of McIlroy's softened stance, saying: "I think he might be seeing that the landscape of golf is changing and at some point you need to evolve... it's nice to have the support from a player the calibre of Rory."

Hatton added: "I've spoken to Rory a bit in the past week and back in December. That's kind of along the lines of what he said to me, so it's not a surprise to hear him say that in the media.

"Ultimately, I would like to still be able to play events on the other two tours. But we'll see how all that works out."

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