Inside the LIV Golf Promotions field: Why more PGA Tour pros aren’t competing in Abu Dhabi

LIV Golf released the list of players competing in its first-ever LIV Golf Promotions event on Thursday and the field included some interesting names.

A handful of rising amateurs will be at Abu Dhabi Golf Club Dec. 8-10, as will a pair of former Ryder Cup players and a major champion. The best of the four amateurs – China’s Sampson-Yunhe Zheng – is ranked No. 27 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. The Ryder Cuppers were one-time members of Team Europe (Victor Dubuisson in 2014) and Team USA (Jeff Overton in 2010) at least a decade ago. The major champion? That’d be 46-year-old Jason Dufner, who claimed the 2013 PGA Championship but went on to win just two more Tour events over his professional career, the last coming at the 2017 Memorial.

LIV officials and fans alike had to be expecting a better turnout, especially after the PGA Tour confirmed last month that it didn’t view LIV Golf Promotions as an “unauthorized tournament” due to its status as a qualifying event. That, however, doesn’t mean players could just automatically tee it up, no questions asked.

So why aren’t more PGA Tour players featured in the LIV Golf Promotions event? For a player to be able to play the promotions tournament, they still needed to apply for and be granted media releases by the proper deadlines: 15 days in advance for Korn Ferry Tour players and 45 days in advance for PGA Tour players. While LIV Golf Promotions has been discussed since February, it wasn’t officially announced until Oct. 26, less than 45 days before the first round on Dec. 8.

Players who compete without a release from the Tour will most likely face the same punishments as those who initially left for LIV, but don’t expect the Tour to publicize which players received releases and which did not. It’s also not customary for the Tour to publicize disciplinary measures, but similar to past situations, a player wouldn’t be subject to punishment until they actually compete in an event without a proper release from the Tour.

While the names in the promotions field may leave something to be desired, the event in the Middle East isn’t the only avenue to join the upstart circuit.  LIV still has the ultimate flexibility to sign new players at their discretion, meaning if Rory McIlroy or Jon Rahm wanted to leave the Tour, they could be signed to lucrative deals just like other notable players before them. There are only a handful of open positions on the 12 current teams, but officials hinted throughout 2023 that the league could operate its shotgun start format with as many as 15 teams.

If you’re unfamiliar with the LIV Golf Promotions setup, four rounds will be played over the three days, with 36 holes on the final day. The purse is $1.5 million and players must pay a “nominal” entry fee (when LIV opened entries for its first event in London in 2022, “Tiger Woods” entered 216 times). A total of 73 players will compete for three spots in the 2024 LIV Golf League. The promotions event is the same week as the PGA Tour/LPGA mixed team event, the Grant Thornton Invitational at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida. It’s also the same week as the DP World Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club in South Africa.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek