Dubai: Shiv Kapur, the Dubai-based Indian golfer who plays on the Asian Tour, shared his thoughts with Gulf News on the recent $25 million 54-hole LIV Golf Invitational held at the Centurion Club, London, England.
GULF NEWS: What did you think of the opening edition of LIV Invitational?
SHIV KAPUR: I was impressed with the innovation and pace of the coverage on the LIV Golf TV product. I played the previous week in the Asian Tour’s International Series at Slaley Hall, in the North East of England, so I am fully aware what a great product they deliver.
It certainly caught my attention as well as so many of my friends, both golfers and non-golfers. It got media space, attention and noise that I have never ever seen or heard in our sport of golf.
What especially caught your eye about the LIV Golf Invitational?
Golf has been looking for a shorter format for too long. Is this five-hour ‘start to finish 48 player shotgun start format’ over three days a solution model for the future of golf, aligned to an already proven team element to attract a new fan base.
Across all sports, team events attract a bigger audience than individuals: be it, The Ryder Cup, football, cricket and now perhaps mainstream golf.
What do you think about the money involved?
When businessmen and businesswomen earn more money or they are more profitable, they are celebrated, but if sportsmen and women choose to make more money, it is criticised. As is the case with LIV Golf, all the players that chose to participate are characterised as greedy and/or selfish.
First and foremost, golf is an individual sport and the ultimate selfish sport around and you owe no allegiance to anyone, it is a game with no excuses, so why should an individual who decides to play a Tour that is more lucrative, be criticised?
How about the argument of growing the game?
I personally feel that LIV Golf, by holding events in places such as: London, USA, Thailand and Saudi Arabia, is growing the game far more than the PGA Tour, that essentially limits itself to the US with token events in Japan and Korea, where they offer a very small portion of the field to local players.
The event at the Centurion Club, on the other hand, gave an opportunity for some up and coming Asian Tour players to rub shoulders with some of the legends of the game and earn a healthy pay check too.
In addition to that, LIV Golf has committed $300 million to the Asian Tour over the next 10 years, as well as significant investment in the Ladies European Tour. That to me is growing the game.
What should and will happen next, in your opinion?
For the future of the game, it would, in my opinion, be in everyone’s interest to sit across the table and find a solution and align together. The game will benefit and so will the players in the long run.
I have always been impressed with the PGA Tour events and their offering, this week at the RBC Canadian Open with five of the top 10 players in the OWGR in the field, and Maroon 5 as well as hip-hop icon Flo Rida concerts on Friday and Saturday nights, it is all great!
I would see LIV Golf as perhaps, the IPL of golf and ideally take place in the fall, and not against existing strong tournaments, with a genuine place on the global golfing calendar, where players can play for megabucks around the world in a 10-12 week window and then return to their respective Tours. Just like cricketers return to national duty and everyone is a winner.
It was an impressive first initiative by LIV Golf. In an ideal world, in my opinion, it would be part of a pyramid structure of the world of golf’s eco-system of Tours with spots available to leading players on all the Tours around the world, which would add to the long-term credibility of LIV Golf, now they already seem to have attracted many of the marquee characters on the world golf scene.
The Official World Golf Ranking model of golf needs, in my opinion, to remain, but at present this seems to be at risk also.
Any other random thoughts?
No sport or entertainment business can ignore its partners, broadcasters, sponsors and fans. Do we not all want to see the best players playing together and against each other at the same time at the golf Majors and other top events during the season, as much as possible?
The speed and interest generated by LIV Golf over the last few weeks has certainly moved the needle in the typically traditional game of professional golf, like no other in my lifetime.
Collaboration is definitely the best solution. Let’s watch this space for the next moves from all and hope that golf will ultimately benefit.
(The next $25 million LIV Golf Invitational starts in Portland, US in just 17 days’ time.)
- Shiv Kapur is a 40-year-old pro golfer who lives in Dubai.