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SBNation.com – All Posts: LIV Golf’s stunning relegation reveal points to existence into future despite PGA Tour deal


Greg Norman, LIV Golf, London
ST ALBANS, England — Greg Norman talks during day three of LIV Golf Invitational London at The Centurion Club on June 11, 2022. | Photo by Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images

The Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour announced a new approach to its competition structure, referencing changes into a 2024 season.

LIV Golf announced a new relegation structure Monday, mirroring how the English Premier League and many other European soccer organizations facilitate its competitions.

But this announcement signals that LIV Golf may continue into 2024 and beyond.

An ESPN report on Jun. 9 indicated that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan would have oversight of LIV Golf, which would relegate current LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.

This report also indicated the potential for LIV Golf folding. If that were to happen, former PGA Tour players who defected to LIV could face financial punishments.

Everything still needs to be finalized, and nobody knows when these concrete details will emerge.

Yet, LIV Golf will continue for the time being.

This week, LIV golfers will play at the prestigious Valderrama Golf Club in Spain, which previously hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup and the Andalucia Masters from 2010-2022.

Some have dubbed Valderrama, which sits just miles from the Strait of Gibraltar, as the “Augusta National” of Europe.

Valderrama, Ryder Cup, Spain
Photo by DERRICK CEYRAC/AFP via Getty Images
VALDERRAMA, Spain — Americans Jeff Maggert, Scott Hoch, and Europeans Nick Faldo (picking up the ball), Lee Westwood arriving on the famous 17th green during the foursome match on the last day of the 1997 Ryder Cup at the Valderrama Golf Club.

LIV Golf still has seven more events slated for 2023.

Following Valderrama, the tour will go to London, the Greenbrier in West Virginia, Trump Bedminster in New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, and then Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

By the time LIV Golfers reach the end of the season at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Jeddah, relegation will be at the forefront of every player’s minds.

Here is how it will work.

Three zones will now exist among those playing on the LIV Golf Tour.

The top zone, the ‘Lock Zone,” will include the top 24 players in the LIV Golf standings. Those 24 golfers will secure their spot for the 2024 season. They will also stay with their respective teams.

Below that, players ranked between 25 and 44 will fall into the ‘Open Zone.’ This second tier will still play on the LIV Golf circuit but are susceptible to trades or release from their respective teams.

Then, anyone who fails to qualify in the top 44 will find themselves in the ‘Drop Zone.’ Essentially, players in the Drop Zone will be relegated from LIV Golf. From there, they will automatically qualify for the LIV Golf promotional tournament for the chance to play their way back into the league.

The League Standings battle is heating up as we begin the second half of the season

Read more about Lock, Open, and Drop Zones here: https://t.co/OKufE8Hy0e pic.twitter.com/kQu9MU0n8s

— LIV Golf (@livgolf_league) June 26, 2023

The English Premier League works similarly.

The bottom three teams from the Premier League drop into the English Championship League. Conversely, the top three teams from the English Championship League are promoted to the Premier League.

Leicester City, Leeds United, and Southampton finished 18th, 19th, and 20th this past season, so those three teams were relegated. Meanwhile, Burnley, Sheffield United—the favorite team of Matthew Fitzpatrick, and Luton Town finished in the top three of the championship league and thus were promoted to the Premier League.

Lee Westwood, LIV Golf
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
TUCSON, Ariz. — Lee Westwood putts on the 16th green during the LIV Golf Invitational Tucson on March 17, 2023.

As for LIV Golf, if the season finished today, Bernd Wiesberger, Chase Koepka, James Piot, and Sihwan Kim would face relegation.

Interestingly, LIV Golf captains cannot be relegated. So even though Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer fall into the ‘Drop Zone,’ their captaincy saves them from relegation.

Monday’s announcement comes during the week in which LIV Golf will play its first event in continental Europe.

LIV Golf’s structure will look very European, at least for now.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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