“I certainly don’t think the field is anything to jump up and down about,” said Rory McIlroy, one of the best players in the world who has been publicly committed to the PGA Tour.
Indeed, at LIV’s first event, the field left much to be desired.
Of the 48 players competing, just 18 were ranked in the top 100 in the world, according to the Official World Golf Rankings. Just one of them, Johnson (No. 15), was ranked in the top 20. Three more — Louis Oosthuizen (No. 21), Kevin Na (No. 34), and Talor Gooch (No. 35) — were inside the top 40.
Further, the same number of players — 18 in the field — were outside of the top 200 in the world ranking.
Safe to say, if LIV were going to become a true force in the golf world, it needed to keep working on its roster.
Over time, they have.
With each passing week, LIV has continued to add names, several of which have been star players such as Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. LIV has also added a slew of talented up-and-coming players such as Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz, to fill out its field.
Heading into this weekend’s event in New Jersey, LIV’s field has indeed improved, with 22 players in the top 100, including eight from the Top 40.
This improvement in LIV’s share of the OWGR Top 100 comes despite the fact that joining the ranks of LIV inherently lowers a golfer’s world ranking.
As things stand, LIV events do not qualify for OWGR points, meaning that players have no way of improving their world ranking while playing on the new tour. It’s a problem that Tiger Woods made note of ahead of the Open Championship this year.
That said, top-ranked players aren’t the only ones LIV is going after. Instead, LIV has also placed a ton of value on players that could be described as “needle-movers.”
You only have to look as far as the PGA Tour’s own list of its most popular players to see LIV’s player target strategy. Two years ago, the PGA Tour introduced the Player Impact Program, or PIP, which measures how much interest a particular player drives. The top 10 players at the end of the year each receive a cash bonus.
With LIV officially adding Bubba Watson to its roster just this week, the new league has now poached five of the PGA Tour’s Top 10 needle-movers from 2021.
Beyond talent and attention, LIV is also clearly angling for worldwide representation across its 48-man roster. Thus far, the team aspect of LIV has been somewhat fluid, but the league has clearly worked to pair nationalities or regions together, which in the future could help drive support and interest in teams.
Right now, gathering talent is still a top priority, but with more announcements coming every week, and likely a new influx of players moving at the conclusion of this year’s PGA Tour season, LIV could someday see a field worth jumping for and about.