LONDON. — LIV Golf is targeting up to four players from the world’s top 15 as it looks to complete its line-up for the lucrative Saudi Arabian-funded tour’s second season in 2023.
The circuit already boasts reigning Open champion Cameron Smith along with fellow major winners Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson.
LIV president Atul Khosla expects to announce new players “by the new year”.
“We are in the middle of discussions right now,” he added.
A source told BBC Sport: “Future recruits look very exciting, I’ve heard there could be two to four players from the world’s top 15 will come over.”
The 48-player line-up for the 2023 LIV season, with 12 additional reserves, will compete over 14 tournaments starting next February.
“We are going to get it (player recruitment) done this year. We want the teams locked in by the new year. It will play itself out over the next couple of months,” Khosla, who works alongside commissioner Greg Norman, said at the Team Championship here in Miami.
This suggests a new year shift in golf’s bitter narrative after 2022 was dominated by speculation, rancour and defections by some of the game’s biggest names.
Like this year, in 2023 fields will be split into 12 four-man line-ups who will compete in a team league. This team element runs alongside US$20m (£17.2m) individual events, and is worth an additional US$5m per tournament and culminates in a US$50m finale.
The teams will be set in place after a transfer window, allowing trading between line-ups along with promised newcomers.
Insiders say these entities, including The Majesticks GC, which features Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson as well as Englishman Sam Horsfield, will be heavily commercialised.
“We are already sold out of certain team merchandise,” Khosla claimed while speaking on Saturday at Donald Trump’s Doral resort.
“That shows there is a desire to purchase team gear. We have launched team social channels.
“I understand the concept is new to golf but the inherent human nature of wanting to be associated with a team is not.”
The model appears dependent on attracting more top players, but leading PGA Tour stars such as Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm as well as Tiger Woods have pledged loyalty to the established tours.
LIV is also hampered because its events do not receive world ranking points.
It has formed a strategic alliance with the relatively minor Middle East-based Mena Tour to bolster its bid for official recognition from the world ranking body that includes PGA and DP World Tour representation on its board.
“We believe we deserve the points,” said Khosla. “Clearly, including with our alliance with the Mena Tour, we absolutely deserve the points.
“We can’t control who is on the board and who is conflicted there. It is obvious at this point there are individuals on the board who are conflicted.”
LIV’s arrival in men’s professional golf has prompted an acrimonious battle for the future of the game. While the establishment would argue otherwise, Khosla insists they are a non-confrontational addition to men’s golf.
“I can’t control it,” he said. “I’m not the one creating that narrative. I can just focus on what we can do; fan experience and player experience.”
LIV has yet to secure a major television deal in the United States or the UK. These appear vital to the ambitions of the fledgling tour.
“With a global league, we are looking at rights across the board,” Khosla said.
“On the US front, we are back and forth with a few different networks. Step one was to show them the product, which they clearly understand.”
LIV tournaments are currently shown on YouTube and the tour’s own website platforms. “We are now at the point where outlets have said time could be cleared,” Khosla added. — BBC Sport