Valderrama added to the LIV Golf with a tournament from 30th June to 2nd July 2023.
by Chris Chaplow
On 30th November 2022 the Saudi backed LIV Golf tour simultaneously announced three venues that will host tournaments on the LIV Golf League 2023. These were Real Club Valderrama (30 June-2 July), El Camaleón Golf Course at Mayakoba, Mexico (24-26 February), Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore (28-30 April). The Grange Golf Club in Adelaide (21-23 April) was previously announced. It is expected the 2023 tour will be made of 14 tournaments.
The prize purse for the 2023 season will be $405 million. LIV Golf, with the injection of Saudi capital, continues to make inroads against the traditional PGA (Professional golfers Association) and PGA European Tour (Professional Golfers Association) traditional tournaments. The battle between the LIV and the two PGA bodies is still raging and a number of golfers have already switched sides. The LIV Golf League claims its aim is to "do things differently" which is certainly true. With smaller fields, fewer rounds, a defined season, shorter playing windows, rousing American football style team names, and shotgun starts, the format is claimed to be designed with fans as the #1 priority.
The LIV tour features 12 teams or franchises named Aces, Crushers, Fireballs, Stingers, Smash, Majestics, Torque, Hyfliers, Iron Heads, Cleeks, Punch, Niblicks. Each team will have four players making 48 players in total. By comparison the PGA European Tour - Andalucia Masters event last October at Valderrama had 262 players and the traditional four rounds played over four days, the cut after two days meant spectators attending at the weekend were disappointed not to see many of the top golfers. The 2022 LIV tour had 12 events, the 2023 is expected to be increased to 14.
Each LIV Golf regular season event will essentially be two simultaneous competitions - an individual and team event. For the individual event, every stroke counts just like it always has (although with 54 holes, a fast start is even more important). The individual winner will be the player with the lowest 54-hole stroke play total. The player with the most ranking points after 7 events will be named the Individual Champion.
The Team Championship in is the final event of the season. This will be a seeded four-day, four-round, match play knock-out. The team event is where the scoring gets complicated. Over the first two rounds, the best two stroke play scores will count for each team. For the third and final round, the best three scores will count, with the lowest overall team score after 54 holes being named the team winner.
LIV Golf Valderrama date of 30 June to 2 July is scheduled one week before the prestigious British Open. Valderrama mentioned that it had signed a contract for five events over five years.
Players announced for the Valderrama event are Sergio García (Winning tournaments at Valderrama in 2011, 2017, 2018), Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Eugenio López Chacarra and Phil Mickelson. Another Valderrama veteran expected to take part is Northern Ireland's McDowell (2010).
Tickets for Valderrama are available online on LIVGolf.com. Early Bird prices for one-day are form 42€ to 48€ and three-day passes (which include target practice and competitions) are 115€. Hospitality packages are also available.
The choice of Valderrama certainly raised eyebrows. The most traditional of clubs hosting the newest and polemic tour. The Andalucia Masters was the traditional October European Tour (rebranded DP world Tour) event at Valderrama. However, the low and decreasing spectator attendance in October 2022 at Valderrama, in spite of the beautiful weather was most noticeable. The organisers have never released figures for the last few editions. Perhaps this never bothered the sponsors, since TV rights were their primary goal. Those that did attend were treated to a front row view of the top professional golfers on the tees and greens without even having to push to the front. There were rumours at Valderrama last October that the event would be switched to the summer. We did not pay attention as this would have flown in the face of a significant sponsors; Andalucia Tourist Board’s long-standing policy to combat seasonality (the large, uneconomic and inefficient difference between summer and winter tourist arrivals). Perhaps Valderrama's defection solves their attendance problem. We presume the Andalucia Masters tournament will now switch to a different course in the usual mid-October slot; the week after the Spanish Open in Madrid, and a course closer to the heart of the Costa del Sol.
Real Club Valderrama CEO Javier Reviriego said: "Real Club Valderrama has a rich history of hosting outstanding golf tournaments, and we are excited to begin this new partnership with LIV Golf. The quality of the players competing at Valderrama will no doubt attract many European fans eager to see some of the best golfers in the world. We will ensure that the golf course is presented in the best conditions and that it represents a real challenge, where accuracy and strategy will play a key role. There is no doubt that the five LIV Golf events we will be hosting over the next few years will further position Andalucía as one of the best golf destinations in the world."