The No. 20-ranked golfer in the world is the latest to join LIV. In an exclusive conversation with Boardroom, he explained his decision and expressed excitement for what’s to come.
“It was really about quality of life,” says Abraham Ancer, a professional golfer who is currently ranked 20th in the world, of his latest career decision: As he revealed to Boardroom earlier this month, he’s joining the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
“If I take the feelings out of it and just as a businessman, it’s not even a question, it’s an absolute no-brainer,” he said.
Backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the LIV Golf Invitational Series is filling the pockets of an increasing number of professional golfers who are choosing to sidestep the PGA Tour. Its first event, the 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Series London, wrapped on June 11 at the Centurion Club with an absolutely smashing $25 million purse.
“We are obviously playing for bigger purses [in LIV Golf]. It would be a lie if you [said you] don’t look at the purses when you enter tournaments; it doesn’t matter where you’re playing,” Ancer told Boardroom. “Being able to do that and also having more time by cutting the amount of tournaments that I play per week is beneficial.”
Ancer, who has one PGA Tour victory to his name at the 2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitationalsaid last August, planned to compete in the 2022 US Open over the past weekend, but withdrew shortly before the start of Round 1. He was fully eligible to participate in the event.
At the Centurion Club, top finisher Charl Schwartzel took home the $4 million winner’s payout, plus an extra $750,000 bonus as a member of the top-performing four-man team), runner-up Hennie Du Plessis claimed $2.1 million, and Branden Grace and Peter Uihlein both earned $1.5 million in tying for third. The lowest total that any participating golfer earned was $120,000.
By comparison, the total prize pool at the 2022 Masters was $15 million, a record for the event. Last year’s US Open featured a $12.5 million purse. Justin Thomas just pocketed $2.16 million for taking top honors at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said earlier this month that the Tour would suspend players who compete in LIV Golf events. There are 17 golfers currently confirmed to have made that list, including notable names like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, and Brooks Koepka. At least nine of the 17 golfers on that list had already resigned their membership.
As for how all this relates to Ancer, the feelings of worry fleeted after his inner circle was very supportive of his decision. “I had really deep conversations with my family, my friends, my trainer, my coach, and my agent, and we were all on the same page completely. I thought there was going to be more hesitancy from people but it was the opposite so that gave me some peace.”
“I don’t know what the future is going to be like. Ideally, I’d like to play wherever I want,” Ancer continued. “I think if you want to exercise their right to play wherever they want that’s definitely not growing the game. I think competition is good for business.”
While LIV Golf has attracted top talent with the help of some serious dollar signs, they aim to draw fans to the action through some unique structural elements. Each weekend features three rounds of 18 holes each — “LIV” refers in Roman numerals to those 54 holes, as opposed to a traditional tournament’s 72 — with 12 team captains selecting three teammates to join them. As with any other event, the player with the lowest score after 54 holes is the individual winner.
Team scores, meanwhile, are determined by stroke play for Rounds 1 and 2. In Round 3, however, a team’s best three scores are combined, with the lowest total score winning the team title.
“Golf is such an individual sport. Even though you have a team aspect, you’re still playing for yourself. If you can have both, it will be more exciting for us and for the fans to watch and get behind a team or player. I think it’s going to be sweet,” Ancer said.
Ancer is also aware that LIV Golf is currently dividing the sport, but he would prefer for fans to focus on the new opportunity to watch their favorite professional golfers in a unique format.
“People get so caught behind the keyboard and hating, bad news spreads much more quickly than good news,” he explained. “We’re not doing anything wrong, we still want to play the game we want to play. We’re just excited about a little bit of a different format that I think will be great for fans to enjoy.”