Golf: European golfers get pay guarantee in face of LIV threat

England’s Matt Wallace plays a shot during the final day of the DP World Tour's European Masters tournament in August. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON – DP World Tour players will be guaranteed minimum earnings of US$150,000 (S$212,000) in 2023 in the latest response from the established tours to the threat from the lucrative rebel LIV Golf series.

Golfers on the circuit, formerly known as the European Tour, will receive cash under the new Earnings Assurance Programme if they play a minimum of 15 events in the new season.

The PGA Tour announced a similar programme in August, with rookies guaranteed US$500,000.

Last place in each of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf events this season was worth US$120,000 while US star Dustin Johnson earned more than US$35 million in individual and team prize money.

DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley also announced a record prize fund of US$144.2 million.

“Our overall prize fund for the 2023 season represents US$50 million more than 2021 and also underlines the strength of our partnership with the PGA Tour, who are working with us to drive revenue and a long-term growth plan,” he said.

“One of the many benefits we have been able to introduce because of this partnership is the new Earnings Assurance Programme, similar to what they already have on the PGA Tour.”

Pelley said the initiative “recognises and rewards” golfers’ achievements in gaining playing rights on the tour.

“Although we will never lose the magic of the meritocracy and purity of a performance-based structure, this offers certainty of income to players who have made it to the pinnacle of the professional game in Europe,” he added.

Prize money has been boosted from US$8 million to US$9 million for the first four Rolex Series events in 2023. They are the Abu Dhabi Championship, Dubai Desert Classic, Scottish Open and PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Former US Open champion Justin Rose and Thomas Bjorn were among those who responded to the news.

Englishman Rose tweeted that it was “brilliant news” while Dane Bjorn said the DP World Tour is “building for the future”.

Separately, Patrick Reed, who moved to LIV Golf in 2022, has filed another lawsuit after previously suing multiple entities (including the PGA Tour) for defamation, lawyer Larry Klayman said.

The new suit, for defamation, injurious falsehood and tortious interference over malicious false publications, is directed at Fox Sports, the New York Post, the Associated Press and others, who were all named as co-conspirators with the subjects of the previous claim.

Shane Ryan, the author of the book The Cup They Couldn’t Lose: America, The Ryder Cup, And The Long Whistling Straits, is a primary focus of the new complaint.

“My client, his family and colleagues have been made the whipping boy of cheap and dishonest journalists in the golf media, like Shane Ryan,” Klayman said.

The original claim, filed in August, alleged that Brandel Chamblee and Golf Channel conspired with the PGA Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan to defame 2018 Masters champion Reed for the past nine years.

The suit was refiled in September to include more defendants: Golf Channel and three of its contributors, Damon Hack, Shane Bacon and Eamon Lynch; plus Golfweek. AFP, REUTERS

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