LIV Golf Lawyer's Prize Money Admission Is Turning Heads

The LIV Golf Invitational Series started its first tournament in 2022 amid controversy. The new league, which rivals the PGA Tour, is funded by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), and former pro-golfer, Greg Norman, serves as its CEO. As Golf noted, the controversy surrounding the new golf league stems from its association with the PIF, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund that has committed human rights violations.

The league's critics say that LIV Golf is another attempt of the Saudi government to divert the public's attention from its numerous violations. The PIF has also invested in other sports, such as wrestling and soccer. According to The New York Times, LIV Golf's premiere tournament has a total purse of $25 million — the largest in golf history. In May 2022, PGA Tour announced that member golfers participating at the LIV Golf event would be suspended from the league. Despite the warning, 17 golfers took part in the LIV Golf tour, which violated regulations, and they were suspended from the PGA Tour.

LIV Golf prize money controversy

In June, Brandel Chamblee, an analyst for the Golf Channel, posted a tweet alleging that the prize money players won at the LIV Golf tournament was counted against the golfers' signing bonus, as reported by Swing U. The tweet has since been deleted. During a press conference, a member of the press asked players about Chamblee's allegation, and a spokesperson for LIV Golf released a statement that said the prize purses are "in addition to" the signing bonus.

In a court hearing in August, however, an LIV Golf attorney contradicted what the representative said about the players' contracts. As reported by The New York Post, the attorney stated that golfers' earnings are counted against the signing fee they received, which coincided with Chamblee's tweet. The contradicting statements from two people representing LIV Golf left many wondering what the truth is in regard to prizes and contracts.

LIV Golf stands by its original statement

The statement from an LIV Golf attorney was said during a hearing where three PGA Tour golfers — Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones, and Talor Gooch — were seeking to be allowed to participate in the FedEx Cup Playoffs after being suspended by the PGA, as noted by The New York Post. The attorney, apart from saying that winnings are taken against the signing bonus, also stated that each player's contract is different and that not all money is guaranteed.

After the controversial statement, a spokesperson from LIV Golf stood by the original statement that the prize money is not taken from golfers' signing bonus. Golf Digest writer Dan Rapaport posted a tweet with the spokesman's statement that said the attorney was referring to a different question when he said the seemingly contradicting statement. Further, the spokesman said, "We maintain that every player's contract is separate from prize money." The hearing ended with the judge ruling against the three players. The reason given was that they had knowledge of the consequences from PGA before joining LIV Golf and that they were compensated well by the rival tour.