Phil Mickelson will tee off in the opening event of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series on Thursday afternoon, bringing an end to months of speculation.
The 51-year-old has not played since controversial comments about the breakaway series and the PGA Tour were published in February, but he will participate in the tournament at Centurion Club.
On the eve of the tournament, two other big names in Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed were announced as joining the circuit, though will not play in the opening event.
Mickelson is one of six players added to the list of competitors for this week’s event, completing a 48-man field – and Telegraph Sport breaks down what you need to know ahead of the rebel circuit’s opener.
Which players have signed up?
DeChambeau and Reed will not play in the opening event but Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are the star names in the inaugural field, with other notable participants including Englishmen Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace. Rickie Fowler is also close to be confirmed, Telegraph Sport understands.
The complete field for the opening event is here:
Where are the eight LIV Golf events?
The breakaway circuit begins at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire, before moving to the United States for three stops.
It then has two events in Bangkok and Saudi Arabia, before the tour finishes at Trump Doral in Miami at the end of October.
What is the format?
The 48-man field will play across 12 teams of four players, which will be determined at a draft on June 7.
The first seven regular season events will consist of three 54-hole events, with no cut and shotgun starts, while the final event will be a four-day team matchplay knockout.
LIV then plans 10 events in 2023 followed by “a full season” of 14 tournaments in 2024 and 2025.
Centurion, like the other seven events in 2022, is being classed by chief executive Greg Norman as “baiter tournaments”, aiming to lure big names who have so far resisted the circuit’s overtures.
What is the prize money?
LIV Golf says the total prize purse for its eight events “will reach an unprecedented $ 255 million” (£ 204m).
The first seven regular season events will have a prize pool of $ 25m (£ 20m), with the individual winner receiving $ 4m (£ 3.2m), the last-placed finisher collecting $ 120,000 (£ 96,000) and a team event dishing out $ 5 m (£ 4m).
At the season-ending eighth event, teams will compete for a share of $ 50m (£ 40m) in prize money.
How to watch
Coverage of this week’s inaugural event will be streamed on the organization’s website as well as on YouTube and Facebook, with Arlo White anchoring a three-person broadcast booth. LIV Golf said “more than 50 cameras and 16 different towers” will be used, along with player and caddie mics, to follow the action.
Why is it controversial?
The Saudi-backed circuit is on a collision course with the two main Tours – the DP World Tour and PGA Tour – who have refused to grant permission to players to appear in the rebel events, with a legal battle between the Tours and LIV Golf likely .
LIV chief executive Norman has also been criticized for heading up the breakaway circut, with its Saudi investors accused of “sportswashing” the country’s poor human rights record.
However, Norman said LIV Golf was “independent” and the Saudis were “not my bosses”. The Australian told Sky Sports: “We [LIV Golf] are independent. I do not answer to Saudi Arabia. I can categorically tell you, that’s not the case. I do not answer to MBS. “
What is the latest news?
Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed will be announced imminently as the latest big-name players to sign up with the Saudi rebel circuit.
In the news that will further stun the world of golf, the two controversial Americans have already agreed multi-million dollar deals to join the £ 200 million LIV Golf Series, Telegraph Sport understands.
That news came after Mickelson confirmed he will play in the opening event at Centurion, but it has emerged Tiger Woods rejected a “mind-blowingly enormous” offer to join the tour.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Norman confirmed LIV Golf’s exorbitant proposal to Woods, suggesting the former world No 1 turned down a sum in excess of the $ 150m (£ 120m) that secured Dustin Johnson and perhaps close to $ 1bn (£ 798m).