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When LIV Golf poached Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Cameron Smith away from the PGA Tour last year, momentum seemed to be building for the Saudi-backed league to possibly take over as the premier tour in professional golf. CEO Greg Norman likely anticipated another offseason full of marquee signings to further eat into the PGA Tour’s monopoly, but that’s not exactly how it played out.

LIV Golf did manage to sign five more defectors ahead of the 2023 season, but none of them are going to move the needle. The PGA Tour has countered LIV Golf’s every move to keep the top-ranked players happy. We’ve already seen the peak of the once-promising golf league.

LIV Golf announces disappointing haul of new defectors

After LIV Golf’s moderately successful inaugural season came to a close, the golf league was expected to go after more big names in an ongoing effort to cripple the PGA Tour blow by blow. Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama, and other top-20 golfers were on the radar as the next possible defectors.

But LIV golf swung and missed on all of their top targets in the offseason. Instead, Norman was only able to poach Thomas Pieters, Mito Pereira, Sebastián Muñoz, Danny Lee, and Brendan Steele.

Pieters was the “marquee signing” of the group at No. 35 in the world, but he doesn’t have a single PGA Tour victory on his resume and wasn’t even a full-time member before joining LIV. Between the five golfers, they’ve won just five PGA Tour events combined, and Steele has three of them. Pereira might be the most popular name of the bunch, but that’s only because PGA Tour fans know him from his nervy double bogey on the 72nd hole of the 2022 PGA Championship to blow the lead.

This is not the offseason Norman envisioned, and it paints a bleak picture of LIV Golf’s future.

LIV Golf’s peak has already passed

Greg Norman looks on during the PIF Saudi International.
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman looks on during a practice round prior to the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club | Luke Walker/WME IMG/WME IMG via Getty Images

Of the five newest LIV Golf signings, only one is ranked inside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Two of them are ranked outside the top 123. These aren’t exactly needle-movers for the Saudi-backed tour, especially considering major winners Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith were the top defectors last year.

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is thriving with Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm leading the charge. The television ratings for the WM Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational were both up from last year, Tiger Woods made his season debut on the PGA Tour this past weekend, and the top-ranked players couldn’t be happier now that purses are higher than ever.

LIV Golf’s splash signings are likely behind them. The top players who remained loyal to the PGA Tour last year are here to stay, and LIV Golf will have to settle for the scraps from here on out. Norman’s revenge-driven golf league is already past its peak, and its underwhelming offseason signings prove it.


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