Carried by Saudi Arabia and former champion Greg Norman, the LIV golf, with an extraordinary budget, is fracturing the hushed world of golf by attracting several stars into its nets who will compete on Thursday during the inaugural tournament in London.

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An earthquake, neither more nor less. And no doubt a new era… For months now, the backstage of world golf has been buzzing with nothing but this new league financed by the Saudi investment fund, a project that is finally coming out of the ground, and which risks reshaping the outlines of this sport.

The threats of sanctions or exclusion from the PGA did not work, at least for two sacred monsters of the American circuit, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.

The former world No.1, winner of two Majors, and the brilliant left-hander, arguably the second greatest player of the past 20 years after Tiger Woods, succumbed to Saudi golden sirens, stepping over a Rubicon that many thought impassable.

They are not the only ones. Other illustrious names on the European circuit have also succumbed, such as Lee Westwood or Sergio Garcia.

“Do not go”

This is undoubtedly the first success of this controversial circuit from its embryonic stage: to have managed, despite the fierce opposition of the American and European circuits – which refused the dissidents to sign them an exit voucher – to attract 16 of the 100 best players in the world.

In the end, this league brings together a total of 48 dissident players, no doubt seduced by a strong argument: the endowment that some consider “indecent” of nearly 200 million euros for this series of eight tournaments around the world with a format unreleased over three days, without a cut.

For the first, which will take place at the Centurion Club in St Albans, north London, as for the other stages, 23 million euros will be distributed, more than double each of the four Majors. Not a single event on the American circuit offers so much money.

“It’s the start of a battle bigger than all these stars” predicts Pascal Grizot, the president of the French golf federation (FFG).

Because this new league divides, at least as much by the promised mountain of money as by the identity of its founders, in particular because of the question of human rights, a sensitive subject in Saudi Arabia.

“Even I would love to play for such a big amount of money (…), but there comes a time when you have to straighten up and act like a human being. I know there are players who are not comfortable with this, but I have the impression that they remain silent, just in case a piece of the cake comes to them one day (…) . Don’t go there!” Urged, for example, the Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera on the Irish site at the beginning of May.

“Huge mess”

Phil Mickelson forced himself into a long silence of several months after having, in February, taken a stand for this Saudi league. “Lefty” had both pointed to the “odious greed” of the American circuit, and said he was ready to join the LIV despite the “lack of respect for human rights and in particular towards homosexuals” of Arabia saudi. Statements that had drawn the wrath of many players.

Proof of the Saudis’ fierce desire to break the age-old tradition of golf: golfing icon Jack Nicklaus, 82, recently revealed he turned down an offer of over $100million to be one of the faces of the new circuit .

The question now arises of the consequences of this choice for dissidents. The PGA had warned that players who choose to participate in the LIV would be subject to penalties, including exclusion. Some have anticipated such an outcome like Kevin Na or Dustin Johnson, who resigned from the PGA.

What about their presence and those, for example, of Mickelson or South African Louis Oosthuizen – another dissident – at the US Open, one of the four Majors of the season, in a few days (June 16)?

“There will undoubtedly be lawsuits for years,” prognosticates Pascal Grizot, “I don’t blame the pros. They go where there is the most interest.

“I find it indecent, this escalation will be harmful to the image of golf in the world. It looks like a huge mess, because when we talk about golf and we only talk about money, that’s not what the image of golf needs, “he says.