LIV Golf, the controversial PGA Tour rival, bringing more of the sport to Houston in June

ByMatt Guillermo KTRK logo
Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Saudi-backed LIV Golf may impact Houston Open's money-making potential
You may have heard about LIV Golf, a billion-dollar startup tour that is attracting controversy over its financial backers. The big part of its existence comes in the form of the pros it is poaching from the PGA Tour, and that could lead to far-reaching consequences for the PGA's events, including the Houston Open.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Last fall, LIV Golf announced it would land in Houston, giving the area two tournaments in a handful of months.

Tickets for the LIV event at the Golf Course of Houston are now on sale. The tournament making its Texas debut will unfold Friday, June 7, through Sunday, June 9.

LIV, a startup golf league that kicked off in 2022, boasts a roster filled with major winners like Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka, who were poached from the PGA Tour.

However, the tour hasn't been without controversy due to the Public Investment Fund's backing. The Saudi Arabian government controls the fund.

Protests at tour stops have railed against Saudi Arabia's human rights record and, in one instant, harboring and supporting the September 11th hijackers.

The tour's impact has also reached Capitol Hill, where lawmakers last year were divided over a proposed PGA-LIV partnership.

A LIV Golf flag is seen during the second round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf tournament in Bedminster, N.J. on Saturday, July 30, 2022.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Nevertheless, LIV bills itself as a fan-friendlier product rich in amenities and amusement for spectators. For example, the Birdie Shack at the 16th green boasts a live DJ.

The tournament is typically five hours long each day, has shotgun starts, has no cuts, and is team-focused.

In Houston, LIV nearly put the Texas Children's Houston Open in doubt on the PGA Tour calendar. In 2022, Eyewitness News reported on the PGA Tour altering the following year's slate of tournaments, which put the viability of the November-set Houston Open in doubt.

ABC13's Adam Winkler explained how that unfolded in a June 2022 story, which you can watch in the video player above.

However, the Astros Golf Foundation's event got the OK to move to March, which was favorable to attract the tour's top names.

Stephan Jaeger won this year's Texas Children's Houston Open on March 28-31 at Memorial Park Golf Course, closer to the city center than the Golf Course of Houston. The event's 2025 dates have yet to be announced.