LIV golfers playing in the PGA Championship 2023 are Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Thomas Pieters, Talor Gooch, and more.

Out of the 156 players participating in this year's PGA tournament at Oak Hill East Course, 16 of them are affiliated with LIV Golf. Similarly, last year, in 2022, 37 LIV players qualified and competed at Southern Hills for the event.

It is a professional tour supported by Saudi Arabia and directed by Greg Norman, a former world number one and two-time British Open winner.

When the idea of LIV Golf was proposed in 2019, the then commissioner of the PGA Tour, Jay Monahan, stated that players who choose to join LIV would be ineligible to participate in future PGA events.

Why Are LIV Players In PGA Championship?

The PGA Championship allows LIV Tour players to compete in the tournament because it is an independent event organized by the PGA of America, not the PGA Tour.

Many are under the impression that because both tournaments have PGA upfront in their brand, they are the same thing. Although it may be confusing due to its name, the PGA Championship is actually run by the PGA of America and has nothing to do with the PGA Tour.

Brooks Koepka promoting A SHOC Energy on April 26, 2023.
Source : instagram

They both are distinct entities with different responsibilities and regulations. Consequently, the PGA Championship has the authority to establish its own rules regarding player eligibility.

LIV golfers in 2023 PGA championship are:

  • Abraham Ancer
  • Anirban Lahiri
  • Brendan Steele
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Cameron Smith
  • Dean Burmester
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Harold Varner III
  • Joaquin Niemann
  • Mito Pereira
  • Patrick Reed
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Sihwan Kim
  • Talor Gooch
  • Thomas Pieters

Initially, there were 18 LIV golfers in the PGA championship of Oak Hill, but Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey both withdrew due to injury.

Following the conclusion of Round 1 in the PGA Championship 2023, which began on May 18, LIV players are doing relatively fine, with the 2018 Canadian Open champion Dustin Johnson holding the T3 position. Johnson has completed his full round of 18 holes with a score of -3.

The Belgian professional Thomas Pieters finished the first round (R1) with a score of -1. This means that Pieters completed the round with one stroke under par. Pieters is currently tied for the 10th position on the chart.

Dustin Johnson at BMW Championship in August 2020
Source : twitter

Similarly, Harold Varner III from Akron, Ohio, is tied for the 20th position on the leaderboard at the end of R1. Varner had a score of E (even par), which suggest he has the same number of strokes as the par for the course.

On the other hand, the six-time major championship winner Phil Mickelson has a score of +1 after playing 16 holes in Round One. He has scored one stroke over par so far in the tournament. As of his current progress through 16 holes, Mickelson is set at T27 on the ranking.

Additionally, Brooks Koepka positioned himself in the T42 rank on the standings after R1. Koepka concluded the first round with a score of +2.

Is The PGA Championship A Major?

Yes, the PGA Championship is a major golf tournament, alongside The Masters, The Open Championship, and US Open. 

Every year, the major golf tournaments, known as the majors, start in April with the Masters Tournament. The PGA Championship follows in May, and then a month later, in June, the US Open is held. The final major of the season is The Open Championship, which takes place in July.

Major Month Run by Location
The Masters April Augusta National Golf Club USA
PGA Championship May PGA of America USA
US Open June United States Golf Association USA
The Open Championship July The R&A UK

Although there are several golf tournaments present and held every year, not all of them are in the prestigious league of majors.

In professional golf, a major is a highly regarded tournament that holds significant historical and cultural importance in the sport. Apart from the historical significance, the substantial prize money Major Championships offer sets them apart from regular tour events.

Oak Hill Country Club seated in the suburbs of Pittsford, New York
Source : facebook

On the other hand, the location and course also matter. PGA Championship, which has been around for over a century since its inauguration in 1916, has been held at different locations and golf courses throughout the country.

One of its prominent locations is Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York. For a major championship to be played, the course must have 18 holes. Oak Hill meets this requirement, so it has been granted the opportunity to host a major tournament.

Established in 1901, the Country Club hosted its first major, the US Open, in 1956. So far, Oak Hill has hosted three US Opens and four PGA Championships in 1980, 2003, 2013 and 2023.

LIV Golfers Allowed To Play In Majors

LIV Golf distinguishes itself as a separate entity from the PGA Tour and operates independently. It has caused significant discussion and division within the golfing community.

Contrary to initial reports, no restrictions are preventing LIV Tour players from participating in the PGA Championship or any of the other three majors.

The PGA Championship, along with the Masters, U.S. Open, and Open Championship, are not under the control of the PGA Tour. 

As a result, the PGA of America and the other principal championship organizers have the authority to determine their own eligibility criteria and extend invitations to players from various tours.

Saudi Golf promotional poster for CW Sports 2023.
Source : pinterest

In the 2023 Masters won by Jon Rahm, there were 18 participants from the LIV golf, and the numbers are increasing. Although LIV  players can attend the PGA Championship, they must still meet specific criteria to qualify for the tournament. 

These prerequisites include being previous tournament winners, having secured victories in other majors within the past five years, claiming the Players Championship title in the previous three years, or finishing among the top 15 players in the prior year's PGA Championship.

These requirements ensure that the field comprises competitive and accomplished players, regardless of their affiliation with any other tour.

However, there is ongoing uncertainty regarding how LIV players will qualify for upcoming major tournaments, as their positions in the world golf rankings have been declining.

It has not been decided whether these players will still earn points towards qualification. However, for the current year, if LIV players meet the necessary exemption criteria, they can partake in each of the major championships.

How does LIV Golf differ from the PGA?

The Saudi-funded Golf Tour has its own set of rules, slightly distant from the PGA. Furthermore, LIV also offers a higher amount of prize money.

Unlike the traditional four rounds, LIV went with three rounds for the competition, one of the significant differences between the two events. 

Comparision of prize money across two prominent leagues.
Source : reddit

Furthermore, unlike PGA Tour, LIV announced that every contestant who takes part in the tourney would receive a certain percentage from the prize fund even if they could not finish in the top ranks. It means no players have to go home empty-handed, which is a really tempting factor.

It is a huge factor that many notable PGA golfers are heading toward Saudi funded league. Two-time PGA Tour and 25th-time Europen Tour winner Lee Westwood had the best answer as to why there is a surge in the transition from PGA to LIV, and it is about the money.