LIV Golf has made its first offseason splash. Thomas Pieters, the No. 34-ranked player according to the Official World Golf Rankings, has signed to play in the PGA Tour rival league and will make his LIV debut next week in Mexico.
Pieters, who has been a stud on the European Tour for much of his career and was a star at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, tweeted earlier this week that he was disappointed not to have gotten into this week’s Genesis Invitational. It turns out, there was a reason for that.
James Corrigan of The Telegraph hinted at the fact that the European Tour becoming essentially a feeder tour for the PGA Tour didn’t sit all that well with Pieters.
But a seven-figure up-front fee as well as the huge prize funds on offer – even if a golfer finishes last every time in the 14-event league then he is guaranteed at least $2 million – became too much of a temptation. There is also a suspicion that Pieters was not (enamored) with the “strategic alliance” between the DP World Tour and PGA Tours.
Pieters, who is a European Tour member but not a PGA Tour member, is a really good get for LIV, if you presume its goal is to be the most competitive golf league in the world. He’s immediately the third or fourth best golfer in that league behind Dustin Johnson, Cam Smith and perhaps Joaquin Niemann, Paul Casey or Abraham Ancer.
There were certainly rumors that Pieters was on the verge, but negotiations apparently went to the 11th hour. Previously, LIV’s most notable signings in the offseason were Mito Pereira, Sebastian Munoz and Dean Burmester. Now, they have a bit of a coup. ESPN reported that Danny Lee and Brendan Steele will also be joining Pieters on Monday.
Pieters most recently played in the Dubai Desert Classic where he finished T6. He has won a worldwide event in three of the last four years and has two top 10s in major championships. Data Golf ranked him inside the top 12 on the potential 2023 European Ryder Cup team.
LIV’s 14-tournament season begins next week at Mayakoba, a former PGA Tour spot.