What we know: History of and latest updates surrounding the Saudi Arabia-backed rival golf league

Everything you need to know about the history of the proposed rival golf league.

What we know: History of and latest updates surrounding the Saudi Arabia-backed rival golf league

The landscape of men’s professional golf may be changing right before our very eyes.

After years of 72-hole stroke-play tournaments with four majors sprinkled throughout the schedule, golf fans may soon have a new option with a rival golf league making noise once again.

Multiple people confirmed to Golfweek that a private meeting of golf media members took place on Wednesday in New York City to outline plans for a Saudi Arabia-backed golf series. Two-time major champion Greg Norman is expected to be announced as the frontman for the new circuit.

Here’s what we know about the situation with the Saudis.

Professional golf in Saudi Arabia

The first professional golf event in Saudi Arabia — the Saudi International — was held in 2019 as a European Tour event, just months after the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The event has been criticized as a targeted attempt by the Saudi government to “sportswash” its controversial human rights record and improve its image.

A handful of big names have made the trip to play over the years, including two-time champion Dustin Johnson (2019, 2021). Major champions like Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka have also been paid to play the event. After the 2020 tournament, the Saudi International moved from the European Tour to the Asian Tour schedule for 2021.

Because of this, Golfweek learned back in July that the PGA Tour would refuse to allow players to compete in the controversial tournament in 2022. Tour members must obtain a waiver to compete on other circuits and, because the Saudi event is no longer sanctioned by the European Tour, the PGA Tour noted to managers that permission would no longer be granted.

That said, last week eight players asked for permission to play in the tournament, scheduled Feb. 3-6 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City: Johnson, 2020 winner Graeme McDowell, Abraham Ancer, Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Na and Jason Kokrak (who is sponsored by Golf Saudi).

What will the new league look like?

While the official format is still unknown, two different variations of a rival league with Saudi ties — the Premier Golf League and Super Golf League — have been pitched over the last year and a half. One plan featured 40-48 players on teams of four with a captain playing an 18-event schedule all over the world with a season-ending team championship.

What players may be involved

Phil Mickelson’s involvement dates back to the 2020 Saudi International pro-am, where Lefty reportedly played alongside Premier Golf League representatives.

In July 2020, the Guardian reported that the league had sent formal offer letters worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” to a handful of players including Mickelson, Adam Scott, Stenson, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey and Koepka.

Almost a year later on May 4, 2021, a report in the Telegraph stated that multi-million dollar offers, some ranging from $30-50 million, were sent to Mickelson, Johnson, Scott, Koepka, DeChambeau, Fowler and Rose. That same month, player managers and agents met with the league’s backers on the Tuesday night before the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah, won by Mickelson.

Previous reactions

Rory McIlroy was the first big name to denounce the Premier Golf League with his, “For me, I’m out,” quote in Feb. 2020. A month later he would be joined by Jon Rahm and Koepka. At that time, the players were all ranked inside the top-three in the world.

In May of 2021 after the news of the $30-50 million offers, McIlroy doubled down, saying, “I don’t see why anyone would be for (the new league).” The PGA Tour — which created a “strategic alliance” with the European Tour to combat any rival leagues — has been steadfast in its stance. In a meeting with players that same month, commissioner Jay Monahan drew a line in the sand with multiple sources telling Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch that leaving the Tour for the new league would result in an immediate suspension from the PGA Tour and likely a lifetime ban.

On top of that, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said PGA Tour defectors would be barred from competing in the biennial Ryder Cup against Europe.

“If someone wants to play on a Ryder Cup for the U.S., they’re going to need to be a member of the PGA of America, and they get that membership through being a member of the Tour,” Waugh said in May. “I believe the Europeans feel the same way, and so I don’t know that we can be more clear kind of than that. We don’t see that changing.”

In a direct response to the Premier Golf League, the PGA Tour also created the Player Impact Program, a $40 million bonus pool designed to compensate players who drive fan and sponsor engagement. At the end of this year, the money will be distributed to 10 players, with the player deemed most valuable receiving $8 million.

Why Greg Norman?

This isn’t the Shark’s first time wading into the waters of a rival golf league.

Norman, the two-time major champion and World Golf Hall of Famer who won 20 times on the PGA Tour and 14 times on the European Tour, attempted to get the World Golf Tour off the ground in 1994, but was unsuccessful. The two-time British Open champion’s play was rejected by then-Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who announced the World Golf Championships three years later in 1997.

Source : Golf Week More   

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Mitsubishi Chemical Kai'Li graphite shafts

Pronounced Ki-Lee, the name is Japanese and translates to "The power of the ocean."

Mitsubishi Chemical Kai'Li graphite shafts

Gear: Mitsubishi Chemical Kai’Li graphite shaft
Price: $300

Mitsubishi Chemical has several popular golf shaft families in its stable, including the Diamana, which debuted in 2005, Fubuki (2010), Kuro Kage (2013) and Tensei, which was released in 2015. Now the company has announced the launching of its first new family of shafts in six years, Kai’Li.

Pronounced Ki-Lee, the name is Japanese and translates to “The power of the ocean.”

The first shaft in the Kai’Li family is Kai’Li White, a shaft designed for faster-swinging golfers who want more stability, low torque, a lower launch angle and less spin off the tee.

To achieve that, Mitsubishi reinforced the tip section with its proprietary MR70 carbon material. According to the company, it is 20 percent stronger than conventional graphites used in golf shafts. Mitsubishi engineers were also able to reduce the amount of resin used in the shaft, and therefore increase the amount of carbon to enhance feel.

Adding MR70 to the tip of the Kai’Li lowers torque and enhances feel. (David Dusek/Golfweek)

For accomplished, faster-swinging players, Mitsubishi claims an increase in feel should lead to greater consistency because golfers will know whether they made center-face contact or not. That will allow them to make minor adjustments to their swing to get optimal performance.

The Kai’Li White will be available in 60, 70 and 80-gram versions in regular, stiff, extra-stiff and tour extra-stiff flexes.

Source : Golf Week More   

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