The real reason why LIV Golf star names will NOT return to PGA Tour before 2025

The true cost of breaking a LIV Golf contract has been revealed.

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 29 Mar 2023
The real reason why star LIV Golf names will NOT return to PGA Tour anytime soon

If a LIV Golf player was to ever break their three-year contract, it would mean a penalty worth "two, three or four times their signing bonus", according to Sports Illustrated's Alex Miceli. 

As it stands, every PGA Tour member to have jumped ship to LIV Golf remains suspended on the American circuit until further notice. 

It is understood PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has no interest in ever opening the door for some of its former stars to return such as Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka

Koepka, who joined LIV Golf from the PGA Tour last season, was recently said to be having "buyer's remorse" according to golf biographer Alan Shipnuck. 

But Koepka, who signed for LIV Golf in a deal worth $100m, has denied such claims. 

When you look into the figures behind breaking a LIV contract, you sort of begin to understand why Koepka won't be giving any consideration to a return to the PGA Tour before 2025. 

If Koepka, for example, chose to leave LIV before his contract ends (and of course he was allowed back onto the PGA Tour), then the four-time major champion would potentially be looking at handing back $400m (x4 the value of his signing bonus). 

"I knew everything I was getting into," Koepka told Miceli when pressed on the fineprint of his LIV agreement. 

In his latest column for Sports Illustrated, Miceli writes: 

What It Costs to Break a Contract: 
"LIV Golf maintains that some of its players still want to play on the PGA Tour.
"But with the exception of playing a one-off event in a player’s hometown or somewhere they have had success; many LIV golfers seem content to play their 14 plus majors and call it a season.
"None want to play a full season on the PGA Tour, which is good because their LIV contracts, while not prohibiting them from playing a full schedule on another tour, does force them to honor their commitment to LIV and if for some reason they wanted to leave LIV, the penalty clause is two, three or four times their signing bonus to break their agreement.
"This penalty clause effectively keeps the players part of the LIV stable until the contract expires after the 2025 season."

Miceli also discusses in his report the amount of LIV Golf League tournaments that players are expected to compete in during the course of the 14-event season. 

All player contracts vary, but a 10-14 rule is in place.

There is still something of a grey area on that front, explains Miceli: 

"Some players have read the 10-14 rule in their contract differently, believing that they are not required to play in more than 10 events and suggesting that if they play in the additional four, they should be compensated for those additional events."

Miceli adds: 

"Each contract is different so it is impossible to know exactly what each says, but generally the 10-14 provision is understood to be consistent in each contract."

LIV Golf players can of course compete in the four majors if they are eligible. 

Koepka will be one of 18 LIV players competing in The Masters next week. 

He will be looking to improve on some fairly sluggish early season form having finished outside the top 20 in his first two starts of the new LIV Golf League season. 

Koepka did win on LIV Golf over in Saudi Arabia in 2022, but the rest of his season was a fairly lacklustre one. 

Injury, it must be said, hasn't helped. 

Related: LIV Golf player form guide, odds and ratings ahead of The Masters

Earlier this week, PGA Tour attorneys warned they will seek a 'default order' against LIV Golf's backer - the PIF - and its governor unless they respond to counterclaims. 

In a court filing made public on 27 March, attorneys for the tour have argued that PIF and Yasir al-Rumayyan "have tried everything possible to duck service" in order to "stonewall discovery". 

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