Since its inception in June of this year, a number of players have teed it up on the LIV Golf Series, but not all of them have been lucky enough to make a return.
Just 12 months ago, the idea of a Saudi-backed series in the world of golf was just a rumour. Fast forward one year and LIV Golf’s inaugural season has come to an end and over £190 million in prize money has been handed out across eight events.
That prize money has been split across 69 players across five months of competing, but not all of them were lucky off to return for more. With just eight events involved in its maiden season, the revolving door for the playing quota was often moving.
For many the Saudi-backed circuit proved to be the perfect pit stop to pick up a cool week’s earnings before quickly moving on, but what beckons for the discarded rebels next?
One man who made headlines when joining the LIV Golf setup was 2019 US Amateur champion Andy Ogletree. The 24-year-old seemingly gave up the dream of most American golfers growing up and decided to give up the chance to join the PGA Tour in exchange for the Saudi riches.
Despite the well-documented move, Ogletree has since played just once on the breakaway circuit, where he came dead last in the opening event at Centurion. With the 24-year-old blowing his chance to compete back home, it remained unknown as to what was next for the former amateur champion.
Despite his dismal finish in St Albans, Ogletree has taken full advantage of LIV’s connections with the Asian Tour by forging a career on the Singapore-based circuit, and winning his first ever professional title in Egypt earlier this month.
Another one event wonder on the LIV Golf roster is Pablo Larrazabal. Like Ogletree Larrazabal’s only appearance on the Saudi-backed series came in the opener at Centurion. It appeared that his one entry could be a costly one, with the DP World Tour looking to ban players who made the Saudi switch.
However, Larrazabal has been able to keep hold of his playing membership for now and finished inside the top 30 on the DP World Tour Order of Merit following last weekend’s season finale in Dubai. Revealing his commitment to European golf despite his LIV switch, he told Golf Digest : “I never wanted to leave the European Tour.
“I never had the chance to play any more LIV events. I never had a contract on the table from them. So there is nothing more to talk about. I’m here to do my best and win golf tournaments.”
Like Larrazabal, another star who received the LIV boot but is back on the DP World Tour is Oliver Bekker. The South African impressed on debut for the Saudi-backed series, winning £678,000 after a solid tied-sixth finish. Despite his top 10 performance, Bekker has since been snubbed by Greg Norman and co.
Upon his controversial return to the DP World Tour, he – like many of the LIV defectors – served a three-event ban from the Wentworth-based tour, but still managed to secure a spot in last weekend’s season-ending event, finishing 36th in the campaign rankings.
Bekker’s namesake Oliver Fisher is yet another star who was ditched after one LIV Golf event. Best known for being the first man to shoot 59 on the DP World Tour, Fisher turned to the Saudi-backed circuit after a tough few years on Tour.
Fisher competed at Centurion in event one of the Saudi-backed series, earning £124,000 for a 38th place finish. The Englishman then made a return to the DP World Tour, but unlike his fellow rebels managed to avoid sanctioning for his LIV switch after having a pre-made agreement with Keith Pelley and co due to his exemption status.
Despite not being as well known as the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter, the signing of Ratchanon Chantananuwat was an impressive one by LIV Golf. As a result Chantananuwat is one of the hottest prospects in golf, having become the youngest player to win and Official World Golf Ranking event in Thailand just two months before aged 15.
Despite his starring talent, the Thai star played just one event on the Saudi-backed circuit at Centurion and has since turned his attentions back to the amateur game.
Another one of the Centurion roster who never appeared again is South African star JC Ritchie. Following his one and only LIV appearance, Ritchie seemingly took a sabbatical from professional golf before returning to the DP World Tour at the English Open six weeks later.
Since then, Ritchie has spent the majority of his season on the Challenge Tour, which financially will seem a world away from his £197,000 win on the Saudi-backed circuit earlier this summer.
Another South African who has fallen from the LIV Golf player quota is Justin Harding. Unlike many others, Harding’s time on the Saudi-backed circuit lasted longer than one event after also making it to the second tournament in Portland after his debut in Portland.
Despite this, it would not get any better than two events for the South African, after he was cut ahead of tournament three at Bedminster. Harding has since made headlines after he joined European stalwart Ian Poulter in taking legal action against the DP World Tour after they were banned from the Scottish Open.
Harding and Poulter – who were also joined by Spaniard Adrian Otaegui – were successful in their appeal, and the South African ended the controversial week in a tie for 66th.
Hennie du Plessis
The pattern of South Africans continues, as fellow countryman Hennie du Plessis also received the axe from the LIV playing quota. Du Plessis impressed on debut in Centurion, coming agonisingly close to becoming the series’ first ever winner when putting in an impressive performance to finish second and take home a cool £1.9 million.
He then competed in Portland, and went one better than Harding by taking to the field at Bedminster. However his time on the mega-money series was soon up, and has since returned to compete on the DP World Tour.