Updated Aug 2, 2022 - Sports

The top golfers who’ve signed (and declined) LIV

Bryson DeChambeau tees off at the 16th tee during the 3rd round of the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Bryson DeChambeau tees off at the 16th tee during the 3rd round of the LIV Golf. Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tiger Woods turned down somewhere between $700 million and $800 million to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, CEO Greg Norman said in an interview with Tucker Carlson Monday night.

Why it matters: Woods' decision comes as many other major professional golfers have signed lucrative deals to compete in the LIV Golf circuit despite the tension between the event series and the PGA Tour.

Driving the news: Norman told Carlson that the offers to Woods were made before he was CEO.

  • "Look, Tiger is a needle mover, right? So, of course you're got to look at the best of the best," Norman told Carlson. "They had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO. That number is somewhere in that neighborhood."
  • Woods has been an advocate for the PGA Tour during its battle with LIV Golf to secure the best professional golfers, ESPN reports.

Why LIV Golf is controversial

The upstart golf circuit has drawn controversy due to its connection to Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of trying to boost its global image by funding the tour.

  • Critics have pointed to Saudi Arabia's poor record on human rights, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Axios' Tim Baysinger reports.
  • 9/11 families have also called out golfers and former President Donald Trump for hosting the event. Fifteen of the 19 attackers on 9/11 were citizens of Saudi Arabia.
  • Last year, the FBI released a declassified document from 2016 related to its investigation, which showed Saudi hijackers allegedly received heavy support from Saudi government officials, but it did not include any evidence of a direct connection with the ruling royal family, and the Saudi government has denied any wrongdoing.

Top golf names signed to LIV Golf

The big picture: Despite the controversies, at least 10 of the top 50 players on the Official World Golf Ranking have joined LIV Golf.

  • Other top golf names — both young and veteran golfers — have inked deals to compete as well. Those names include:
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Bryson DeChambeau
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Bubba Watson
  • Abraham Ancer
  • Louis Oosthuizen
  • Paul Casey
  • Kevin Na
  • Jason Kokrak
  • Talor Gooch
  • Patrick Reed

Major golfers who declined LIV Golf

The intrigue: Woods is the biggest name to reportedly decline LIV Golf offers. Other golfers and personalities have also declined offers to join the league.

  • Rory McIlroy told reporters that younger players joining LIV Golf are "taking the easy way out" for large paydays, per Bleacher Report.
  • Jordan Spieth's agent Jay Danzi told Golf Monthly in July that Spieth "is not in discussions with LIV and is fully supportive of and happy on the PGA Tour."
  • Jordan Smith told Swindon Advertiser's Jonny Leighfield that LIV Golf is "not something I’d entertain."
  • Former NBA player Charles Barkley declined to join LIV Golf's broadcast team, he told the New York Post.
  • Companies such as Rocket Mortgage, the Royal Bank of Canada and UPS have dropped their support for players in the Saudi-backed golf circuit, too, Forbes reports.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect Scottie Scheffler has not joined the LIV Golf Tour and Jordan Smith, not Cameron Smith, said LIV Golf is "not something I'd entertain."

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