Saudi Golf League ‘a gamble’ for younger players and ‘needs Rory McIlroy’, says Richard Bland

Richard Bland, speaking on the Sky Sports Golf podcast: “I think for the younger players it [joining a possible Saudi Golf League] is a big gamble. There’s a lot of rumours, but it’s going to happen. For how long, I don’t know, but it’s going to happen”

Richard Bland believes joining a possible Saudi Golf League could be considered a gamble for younger players and feels the breakaway competition is lacking the star appeal of Rory McIlroy.

Greg Norman is the figurehead of a Saudi-backed $300million investment from LIV Golf Investments into the Asian Tour, something he described as “only the beginning”, with the former world No 1 also expected to become the commissioner of a new breakaway Super Golf League (SGL).

The tournaments and formats for the potential league have yet to be publicly announced, with reports of $1.5billion being available to lure players to move from the PGA Tour, although Bryson DeChambeau denied he has been offered £100m to feature.

McIlroy has previously spoken out against a potential SGL, referring to the venture last year as a “money grab” and liking it to the European Super League muted in football, while Phil Mickelson admitted that the prospect of players defecting to it has given players more leverage with the PGA Tour.

“I haven’t given it a huge amount of thought, because at the minute it’s not affecting me,” Bland told the Sky Sports Golf podcast. “Nobody has approached me and I’m certainly not expecting to be approached!

“It’s a difficult one, because the money being thrown around is tough to turn down for these players. The people signing are the older players and the ones maybe coming towards their autumn of their careers. They’re thinking about a huge pay out and who wouldn’t, probably?

“What does DJ do in four or five years if he wants to go back and play in America – are they going to welcome him back with open arms? It’s a tough one and a real spanner in the works for the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour.

Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau were both in action at the Saudi International last week, financially backed by the same people proposing the Saudi Golf League

“Personally, I think it needs Rory McIlroy. Whether you’ve got a Jon Rahm, you’ve got a Collin Morikawa, you’ve got a Justin Thomas or you’ve got a DJ signed up, McIlroy is still the No 1 draw in golf.

“If they [SGL] turn around in five years and said this isn’t what we wanted, we’re not getting the returns or whatever they hope to make out of it, where does that leave players if the PGA Tour and DP World Tour say ‘you’re not coming back to us’?

Jordan Spieth said last month that the Saudi Arabia’s lucrative investment in golf is ‘a threat’ to the PGA Tour, but will be a boost to players

“If you’re in your early 30s, someone like a Tyrrell Hatton, is this going to be around for the next 20 years? We don’t know. I think for the younger players it’s a big gamble. There’s a lot of rumours, but it’s going to happen. For how long, I don’t know, but it’s going to happen.”

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