Love it or hate it, the LIV Golf Tour is here to stay. For decades, the PGA Tour has been the global standard in golf competitions. Rival leagues have come and gone, but with multiple high-profile tours around the world – including the European Tour and the Japan Tour – and with majors with multi-million dollar prize purses, the PGA couldn’t be touched.
Last year, this changed. After a quashed Saudi Golf League, the tour was rebranded as the LIV Golf Tour and launched in 2021. However, the primary stakeholders behind both leagues remain the same: the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. The fund has been tied to more than a few ‘odd’ incidents, which has led to severe public backlash against PGA Tour pros looking to jump ship for the more profitable league.
Many feel it has been a shameless cash-grab. For example, the recent LIV Golf event in London included $4 million for the winner—which far surpasses PGA major paydays. But so far, over a dozen PGA golfers have jumped ship—and the PGA immediately cut ties with these pros to dissuade more defectors. In response, thirteen former PGA golfers filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA, condemning the league’s monopoly on professional golf.
While the public and the courts continue to weigh in on the new league, sportsbooks haven’t shown the same hesitancy to explore LIV Golf. In fact, many of the sportsbooks offering deals on OddsChecker currently offer lines on LIV Golf Tour events. DraftKings, for example, offers full coverage of top events like the recent Trump Bedminster tournament.
Clearly, bettors aren’t feeling conflicted about the new league. But which pros can they bet on?
Over the last 25 years, Mickelson hasn’t moved from a Top 50 ranking in the Official World Golf Rankings. Last year, he became the oldest major champion after nabbing the PGA Championship at age 50. But he quickly fell from favor after announcing a move to LIV Golf in 2022.
Along with defecting to the rival league, Mickelson was embroiled in public controversy for stating he didn’t care about the nature of the money funding LIV Golf Tour—he just wanted the opportunity for larger prize purses and a chance to ‘reshape the PGA’.
Known as ‘The Scientist’ for his emphasis on tweaking his form with research-driven precision, DeChambeau is one of his generation’s biggest golfing personalities. Throw in a vibrant rivalry with Brooks Koepka, and DeChambeau has been a rewarding golfer to follow for years.
In February 2022, DeChambeau released a statement pledging to stay with the PGA Tour. But on June 8, 2022, reports confirmed that DeChambeau would be jumping ship with other pros. Since then, he has lost multiple sponsorships. He is one of the plaintiffs who filed the antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour for leveling suspensions against him.
With two majors under his belt and 24 PGA Tour wins, Johnson hit the apex of his career in 2020. Since then, he’s qualified for fewer events—which may explain his jump to LIV Golf. In late May 2022, LIV Golf announced Johnson would be competing in its Invitational Series. Similar to Mickelson and DeChambeau, this cost him multiple sponsorships.
Johnson’s move marked a changing tide for potential PGA defectors and highlighted the major money behind the new league. Since going pro in 2007, Johnson has earned close to $75 million from tournament winnings. However, he signed a four-year contract with LIV Golf worth $125 million.
Though still in the first half of his career, Koepka has already managed to nab four major titles—and they include back-to-back wins at the PGA Championship and the US Open. Along with his entertaining rivalry with DeChambeau, Koepka is known for being levelheaded and methodical.
However, his move to LIV Golf in June 2022 came under fire. Similar to DeChambeau, the move came months after he confirmed his loyalty to the PGA Tour, even using the words ‘sell out’ to describe pros switching to LIV Golf. Suspiciously, the announcement came right after he performed poorly at the US Open.