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    Trump Courses Will Host LIV Golf Tournaments in 2023

    As the league announced more details of a 14-stop second season, former President Donald J. Trump’s courses remained central to the schedule, deepening his ties to Riyadh.Former President Donald J. Trump’s golf courses will host three tournaments this year for the breakaway league that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is underwriting, deepening the financial ties between a candidate for the White House and top officials in Riyadh.LIV Golf, which in the past year has cast men’s professional golf into turmoil as it lured players away from the PGA Tour, said on Monday that it would travel to Trump courses in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia during this year’s 14-stop season. Neither the league nor the Trump Organization announced the terms of their arrangement, but the schedule shows the Saudi-backed start-up will remain allied with, and beneficial to, one of its foremost defenders and political patrons as he seeks a return to power.Part of LIV’s scheduling approach, executives say, hinges on the relative scarcity of elite courses that can challenge players such as Phil Mickelson and Cameron Smith — and the abundance of them in a Trump portfolio that is more accessible than many others to the new circuit. In a court filing last week, LIV Golf complained anew that the PGA Tour had warned “golfers, other tours, vendors, broadcasters, sponsors and virtually any other third parties” against doing business with the rebel league.But Trump, whose courses hosted two LIV Golf events in 2022, has expressed no public misgivings about his company’s ties to the league, which has drawn attention to Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses and prompted accusations that the country was turning to sports to repair its reputation. A confidential McKinsey & Company analysis presented to Saudi officials in 2021 suggested there were significant obstacles to success and underscored the limited financial potential for one of the world’s largest wealth funds.Long before Monday’s announcement, the Trump family was closely entangled with the wealth fund, which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman oversees and the PGA Tour is now trying to draw directly into its legal fight against LIV.A Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    Rory McIlroy Looks for the Magic He Conjured Last Year

    Rory McIlroy’s ranking survived a weekend scare. With Scottie Scheffler close behind and Jon Rahm surging, his outing in Dubai might suggest a lot about how long it will last.DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Since Rory McIlroy arrived in the United Arab Emirates over the weekend, he has seen his No. 1 world ranking preserved by virtue of another man’s missed putt in California, been drawn into a driving-range drama over whether he ignored a defector to LIV Golf and had a tee thrown his way in retaliation, and mentioned how he was served a subpoena on Christmas Eve.But on Thursday, after one of the more bizarre tournament preludes in recent memory, McIlroy is expected to play a competitive round for the first time in 2023 and give his sport a glimpse at whether he has the form that last year rekindled some of the fever that followed him earlier in his career.“I’ve been obviously practicing at home and practicing well, but it’s always first tournament of the year, getting back on to the golf course, just trying to get comfortable again with shots on the course and visuals and all that sort of stuff,” McIlroy said Wednesday in Dubai, where he had a debacle last January but a good-enough showing in November to win the season points crown for the DP World Tour, as the European Tour is currently marketed.“I’m sure it will be a little bit of rust to start the week, but hopefully I can shake that off,” he continued.In some respects, the scrutiny has never been greater. When McIlroy last won a major championship, he was 25 years old and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund was not underwriting a splashy rival to the world’s top men’s golf tours. He is now 33, with a frustrating record of close calls but newfound stature as arguably the golf establishment’s pre-eminent spokesman against LIV.He has spent much of the past year publicly answering questions about the Saudi-backed circuit — in response to one on Wednesday, for instance, he effectively called Greg Norman, LIV’s chief executive, weak — and privately crafting a response to it. He played exceptional golf, nevertheless, winning the European Tour points title, capturing the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup and finishing no worse than eighth place in 2022’s majors. The price, he suggested Wednesday, was exhaustion and a decision to “sort of distance myself from the game of golf” for a spell.After he played an exhibition event with Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods on Dec. 10, he stashed his clubs and only picked them up again this year. Holding to his preference to start a calendar year’s competitions in the Middle East, he exercised his right to skip the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. He has held the No. 1 ranking, which he reclaimed in October, anyway, but Scottie Scheffler nearly took it back on Sunday, and Jon Rahm is threatening, having won two tournaments this year, both of them at 27 under par. (Rahm could essentially seize the top ranking on Saturday, when the PGA Tour’s event at Torrey Pines, where he won the 2021 U.S. Open, will conclude.)A Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    PGA Tour Seeks to Add Saudi Wealth Fund to Lawsuit Over LIV Golf

    A federal judge will decide whether one of the tour’s leading avenues to investigate and challenge a new rival can be expanded.The PGA Tour intensified its legal fight against LIV Golf on Tuesday, when it asked a federal judge in California to let it add Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to a lawsuit that has become one of its principal ways to investigate — and try to undercut — the circuit that has assaulted the tour’s customary dominance.The request, filed in the Federal District Court in San Jose, Calif., where LIV and the PGA Tour have argued for months over matters like antitrust law and contract interference, came as the two sides braced for a ruling about whether tour lawyers might depose Yasir al-Rumayyan, the wealth fund’s governor. The fund, formally known as the Public Investment Fund, effectively owns most of LIV.But with a judge’s decision pending and potentially months of appeals ahead, the tour sought another way to examine and retaliate against Riyadh’s entry into men’s professional golf. In Tuesday’s filing, the tour also asked to add al-Rumayyan to its suit.“Documents produced by LIV reveal that P.I.F. and Mr. al-Rumayyan were instrumental in inducing players to breach their tour contracts,” the tour told the judge Tuesday, when it complained that the wealth fund and its leader had been “exercising near absolute authority” over the circuit.The wealth fund has previously rejected the tour’s accusations that it and al-Rumayyan dominate LIV, which has used condensed schedules and enormous contracts to entice players such as Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio García, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Cameron Smith to leave the PGA Tour for the league. LIV, which announced a decidedly modest American television rights deal last week, is expected to begin its 14-stop 2023 season next month in Mexico.Phil Mickelson, left, with al-Rumayyan during LIV Golf’s inaugural tournament last year at Centurion Golf Club near London.Andy Rain/EPA, via ShutterstockJudge Beth Labson Freeman will consider the tour’s request and weigh factors such as whether the tour acted with sufficient haste to amend its lawsuit and whether its request is in good faith and not a mere stalling tactic.A Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    LIV Golf Series Reaches TV Deal With The CW

    After its debut season was relegated to internet platforms, the circuit that includes Phil Mickelson and Cameron Smith will be on the CW network in 2023.LIV Golf, at last, has a television deal.The new circuit, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and the catalyst for a year of turmoil in men’s professional golf, said Thursday that its 54-hole, no-cut tournaments would air on the CW network and its app beginning next month.Although the arrangement is a milestone for LIV Golf, whose tournaments last year were relegated to internet streams even as it showcased stars like Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Cameron Smith, the deal also underscores the circuit’s short-term limitations and the challenges any alternative league faces in gaining entry into the American sports market.America’s top broadcasters were unlikely candidates for LIV Golf. CBS and NBC appeared unwilling to consider airing its events because of their close ties to the PGA Tour, and Disney-owned ABC was seen as a seemingly improbable landing spot because ESPN, which Disney also controls, streams many tour events. Another potential suitor, Fox, has stepped back from golf coverage in recent years.LIV Golf and CW officials did not immediately disclose the financial terms of the agreement, but a person familiar with the arrangement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the contract’s details were confidential, said LIV had not purchased airtime from the network. Instead, the person said, the terms offered both sides mutual financial benefits.“Our new partnership between the CW and LIV Golf will deliver a whole new audience and add to the growing worldwide excitement for the league,” Dennis Miller, the network’s president, said in a statement. “With CW’s broadcasts and streams, more fans across the country and around the globe can partake in the LIV Golf energy and view its innovative competition that has reimagined the sport for players, fans and the game of golf.”The agreement is a reprieve for LIV, which has spent recent months staring down its skeptics who have criticized the new tour’s absence of a television deal, its limited attendance at tournaments and the PGA Tour’s retention of many of the world’s top players. LIV Golf is hoping that its second season, which will begin with a tournament in Mexico in late February, will lead to fan and financial breakthroughs, especially as it more fully embraces a model that emphasizes franchises..css-1v2n82w{max-width:600px;width:calc(100% – 40px);margin-top:20px;margin-bottom:25px;height:auto;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;font-family:nyt-franklin;color:var(–color-content-secondary,#363636);}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-1v2n82w{margin-left:20px;margin-right:20px;}}@media only screen and (min-width:1024px){.css-1v2n82w{width:600px;}}.css-161d8zr{width:40px;margin-bottom:18px;text-align:left;margin-left:0;color:var(–color-content-primary,#121212);border:1px solid var(–color-content-primary,#121212);}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-161d8zr{width:30px;margin-bottom:15px;}}.css-tjtq43{line-height:25px;}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-tjtq43{line-height:24px;}}.css-x1k33h{font-family:nyt-cheltenham;font-size:19px;font-weight:700;line-height:25px;}.css-1hvpcve{font-size:17px;font-weight:300;line-height:25px;}.css-1hvpcve em{font-style:italic;}.css-1hvpcve strong{font-weight:bold;}.css-1hvpcve a{font-weight:500;color:var(–color-content-secondary,#363636);}.css-1c013uz{margin-top:18px;margin-bottom:22px;}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-1c013uz{font-size:14px;margin-top:15px;margin-bottom:20px;}}.css-1c013uz a{color:var(–color-signal-editorial,#326891);-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;font-weight:500;font-size:16px;}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-1c013uz a{font-size:13px;}}.css-1c013uz a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}What we consider before using anonymous sources. Do the sources know the information? What’s their motivation for telling us? Have they proved reliable in the past? Can we corroborate the information? Even with these questions satisfied, The Times uses anonymous sources as a last resort. The reporter and at least one editor know the identity of the source.Learn more about our process.In December, when The New York Times disclosed a confidential McKinsey & Company analysis from 2021 that suggested that a Saudi-backed, franchise-filled golf league would face a tricky path to profitability and relevancy, a spokesman for the circuit said LIV was “confident that over the next few seasons, the remaining pieces of our business model will come to fruition as planned.”The McKinsey analysis considered a television deal a vital ingredient for a league’s success and suggested that the concept that became LIV could earn as much as $410 million from broadcast rights in 2028, if it settled into what it called a “coexistence” with the PGA Tour. But if the league remained mired in “start-up” status, the consultants wrote, it could expect no more than $90 million a year for its broadcast rights in 2028.In its antitrust case against the PGA Tour, which is not scheduled to go to trial before next January, LIV Golf has used its struggles to secure a television deal as evidence of what it sees as the long-dominant tour’s monopolistic behavior.The tour, which has television deals that will pay it billions of dollars in the coming years, has denied wrongdoing. But in a filing in August, LIV Golf’s lawyers asserted that the tour had “compromised” the new league’s prospects to reach a rights agreement and said that the tour had “threatened sponsors and broadcasters that they must sever their relationships with players who join LIV Golf, or be cut off from having any opportunities with the PGA Tour.”LIV also said that CBS officials had said “they cannot touch LIV Golf even for consideration” because of the network’s ties to the PGA Tour. (Paramount Global, which controls CBS, holds a minority stake in the CW. The tour also has a contract with Warner Bros. Discovery, another minority stakeholder in the CW.)LIV’s pursuit of a television deal proved more turbulent — or at least more public — than the last time its chief executive, Greg Norman, tried to build a rival to the PGA Tour. In 1994, when Norman rolled out plans for a new tour, he had buy-in from Fox, which had extended a 10-year commitment. The uprising ended quickly anyway.Despite the headwinds this time, Norman had projected confidence for months that LIV would secure some kind of contract. In November, he called a television deal “a priority” and predicted that one would be locked down “very, very soon.” More

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    Tony Jacklin Reflects on His Career and on LIV Golf

    He was on top of the world in 1970 after winning the British and U.S. Opens. And while he lived well, he said making money was never his top goal.The members of the DP World Tour, whose next event kicks off on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Yas Links in the United Arab Emirates, owe a great deal to the European players who helped make the tour what it is today.That includes Tony Jacklin, the winner of the 1969 British Open, the 1970 United States Open and eight tournaments on the European Tour, now the DP World Tour.Jacklin, from England, also played a huge role in the Ryder Cup. A four-time captain from 1983 to 1989, he led Team Europe to two victories, including the first over the Americans since 1957.Jacklin, 78, reflected recently on his career, on the controversy over the Saudi-financed LIV Golf tour that guarantees entrants six-figure payouts and the game that has meant so much to him.The following conversation has been edited and condensed.When you won your two majors, what did that fame feel like?A Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    Masters Tournament Will Let LIV Golf Players Compete in 2023

    The decision by Augusta National Golf Club is an interim victory for the upstart circuit, but other troubles loom.Augusta National Golf Club will allow members of the breakaway LIV Golf league to compete in the Masters Tournament, the first men’s golf major of 2023.The decision by the private club, which organizes the invitational tournament and has exclusive authority over who walks its hilly, pristine course each April, is an interim victory for LIV, the upstart operation bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to much of the golf establishment’s fury.“Regrettably, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it,” Fred S. Ridley, Augusta National’s chairman, said in a Tuesday statement. “Although we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is to honor the tradition of bringing together a pre-eminent field of golfers this coming April.”But the approach announced by the club on Tuesday — continuing to rely on qualifying categories that often hinge on performances in PGA Tour competitions or other majors, or on certain thresholds in the Official World Golf Ranking — threatens to limit access for LIV players as more years pass, which could ultimately make it more difficult for LIV to attract new golfers.Ridley said Augusta National evaluates “every aspect of the tournament each year, and any modifications or changes to invitation criteria for future tournaments will be announced in April.”LIV declined to comment on Tuesday.The organizers of the British Open, the P.G.A. Championship and the U.S. Open have not said how or whether they will adjust their 2023 entry standards in the wake of LIV Golf’s emergence this year. Augusta National, though, has now offered what could be a template for LIV’s short-term relationships with the major tournaments.Augusta National, for instance, did not abandon its tradition of offering past winners lifetime entry into the tournament, a reprieve for the six LIV players who have already earned green jackets: Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel and Bubba Watson. Recent winners of other majors will still qualify for the 2023 Masters, clearing the way, for at least a little longer, for players like Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith.And Augusta, which has become entangled in the Justice Department’s antitrust inquiry into men’s professional golf, will continue to admit players who are in the top 50 in the world rankings at certain times.The world ranking system is a weapon that is as subtle and technical (and disputed) as it is consequential and, for some golfers, determinative. LIV players do not currently earn ranking points for their 54-hole, no-cut events, and they have fallen in the rankings as other golfers have kept playing tournaments on eligible tours. In July, LIV applied to be included in the rankings, and more recently, it partnered with the MENA Tour, which is a part of the system, to try to keep its players in the mix.But the board that oversees the rankings includes golf executives whose reactions to the breakaway series have ranged from skeptical to hostile, and the group has not embraced LIV’s requests. If major tournaments like the Masters continue to use world ranking points as a qualifying method, at least some players will see their entry prospects evaporate. A sustained reliance on PGA Tour events as other qualifying avenues will also stanch access for LIV players.Whether LIV golfers can play the majors may be crucial to the upstart’s prospects in the years ahead. Beyond golfing glory, major championship winners earn heightened public profiles, and they are more likely to attract lucrative sponsorship arrangements. If LIV’s players face extraordinary constraints on their chances simply to reach a major tournament field, much less to win the competition, the league may have trouble recruiting new players.The possibility of exclusion from the majors was enough to warrant a brief legal spat over the summer, when the LIV players Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford asked a federal judge to order their participation in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs. Gooch, Jones and Swafford had all failed to qualify for the 2023 majors through other means, and their lawyers warned that keeping them from the playoffs would probably end their chances at doing so. Heeding the arguments of the PGA Tour, which said that “antitrust laws do not allow plaintiffs to have their cake and eat it too,” the judge turned back their request.Augusta National’s decision on Tuesday, fleeting as it might ultimately prove, is still a milestone for LIV, which has not signed a television contract or attracted marquee sponsors. Those symptoms of trouble have only deepened concerns about the long-term viability of the new tour, which many critics regard largely as a means for Saudi Arabia to sanitize its reputation as a human rights abuser. Last week, the circuit acknowledged that its chief operating officer, who was widely seen as integral to its business ambitions, had resigned.In recent months, Greg Norman, LIV’s chief executive, urged major tournaments to “stay Switzerland” and allow his circuit’s players to participate.“The majors need the strength of field,” Norman, a two-time British Open victor and three-time runner-up at the Masters, said last month. “They need the best players in the business. They want the best competition for their broadcasting, for their sponsors, all the other things that come with it.”But LIV stands to benefit, too. A victory in a major by one of its players, LIV supporters have said, would give the circuit greater legitimacy.“If it is a LIV player who wins a major next year,” Norman said, “that goes to show you how we work within the ecosystem.” More

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    Atul Khosla, Chief Operating Officer of LIV Golf, Exits Saudi-Backed League

    The executive’s departure is the latest turmoil for LIV, which has drawn plenty of attention but no major television or sponsorship deals.Atul Khosla, the veteran sports executive who was expected to guide LIV Golf into the franchise model on which it has staked its viability, has resigned from the venture that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund financed in a challenge to the PGA Tour.Khosla’s exit, just more than a year after LIV announced his appointment as its chief operating officer, comes as the start-up struggles to gain sustained traction and, confidential records reported by The New York Times this week suggest, is far from reaching the benchmarks that would make it successful.“At the conclusion of LIV’s successful inaugural season, Atul Khosla decided to move on,” Greg Norman, LIV’s commissioner, said in a statement on Friday, days after players and agents were privately told that Khosla would step down. “We respect A.K. and his personal decision.”Khosla is not the first senior official to leave LIV this year, and the outfit has faced questions over the future of Norman, a two-time winner of the British Open and a vociferous critic of the PGA Tour’s design. But while a departure by Norman would threaten to deprive LIV of one of men’s golf’s most familiar and time-tested voices, Khosla was increasingly seen as the LIV executive most integral to fashioning a way forward.At the same time, suspicions about the true scope of his power swirled in the weeks before he left LIV. In a recent court filing, the PGA Tour accused the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, as the wealth fund is formally known, of having an outsize role in managing an operation that has attracted a handful of the world’s top players, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Cameron Smith.But even with the defections of those players and some others from the PGA Tour, LIV has not secured the television and sponsorship arrangements that are the lifeblood of top-tier professional sports. Such deals were seen by McKinsey & Company consultants, in an analysis privately prepared for Saudi officials last year, as vital to the new league’s prospects for success.Moreover, LIV, which some experts regard as little more than an effort by Saudi officials to sanitize the country’s reputation as a human rights abuser, has not achieved other benchmarks identified by McKinsey as crucial to realizing even a “coexistence” with the PGA Tour, including signing most of the world’s top 12 golfers and facing “no/mild response” from the golf establishment.LIV has insisted, though, that it remains on track as it heads toward a system in which its teams will act as franchises. In a statement to The Times last week, Jonathan Grella, a LIV spokesman, said that it “has repeatedly made clear that our stakeholders take a long-term approach to our business model.”“Despite the many obstacles put in our path by the PGA Tour, we’re delighted with the success of our beta test year,” Grella said. “And we’re confident that over the next few seasons, the remaining pieces of our business model will come to fruition as planned. Our business plan is built upon a path to profitability. We have a nice, long runway and we’re taking off.”One week later, word of Khosla’s departure became public.In his statement on Friday about Khosla’s resignation, Norman asserted that some of LIV’s “most trusted partners” were “supporting our structural transition and introduction of exciting new developments.” More

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    Confidential Records Show a Saudi Golf Tour Built on Far-Fetched Assumptions

    McKinsey documents suggest the Saudi league is far off-track for success. Experts say the analysis shows it was never just about profits.Early in 2021, consultants working for Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund studied an audacious idea: The desert kingdom wanted to become the world leader in the hidebound realm of men’s professional golf.If the idea seemed unlikely, records show that the benchmarks for success bordered on the fantastical. A new Saudi league would need to sign each of the world’s top 12 golfers, attract sponsors to an unproven product and land television deals for a sport with declining viewership — all without significant retaliation from the PGA Tour it would be plundering.The proposal, code-named Project Wedge, came together as Saudi officials worked to repair the kingdom’s reputation abroad, which hit a low after the 2018 assassination of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents. The plan was the foundation for what became LIV Golf, the series whose debut this year provoked accusations that Saudi Arabia was trying to sanitize its human rights record with its deep pockets, former President Donald J. Trump’s country clubs and a handful of big-name golfers. Some of those golfers have publicly played down Saudi abuses, as has Mr. Trump.The league’s promoters say they are trying to revitalize the sport and build a profitable league. But hundreds of pages of confidential documents obtained by The New York Times show that Saudi officials were told that they faced steep challenges. They were breaking into a sport with a dwindling, aging fan base — if one with plenty of wealthy and influential members — and even if they succeeded, the profits would be a relative pittance for one of the world’s richest sovereign wealth funds. Experts say that these make clear that Saudi Arabia, with a golf investment of least $2 billion, has aspirations beyond the financial.An unidentified man trying to hold back the press as Saudi investigators arrived at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in April 2019 amid a growing international backlash to the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.Chris Mcgrath/Getty Images“The margins might be thin, but that doesn’t really matter,” said Simon Chadwick, a professor of sport and geopolitical economy at Skema Business School in Paris. “Because subsequently you’re establishing the legitimacy of Saudi Arabia — not just as an event host or a sporting powerhouse, but legitimate in the eyes of decision makers and governments around the world.”The documents represent the most complete account to date of the financial assumptions underpinning LIV Golf. One of the most significant was prepared by consultants with McKinsey & Company, which has advised the kingdom’s leaders since the 1970s. McKinsey, which has worked to raise the stature of authoritarian governments around the world, was key to Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to diversify the kingdom’s economy and turn it into a powerful global investor. Worldwide sports have become a pillar in that plan, with Saudi officials even discussing the possibility of someday hosting the World Cup.McKinsey, which declined to comment, analyzed the finances of a potential golf league, but pointedly said in its report that it was not examining whether it was a strategically viable idea. And many of Saudi Arabia’s rosy assumptions, McKinsey added, “have been taken for granted and not been challenged in our assessment.”Indeed, LIV Golf appears far from meeting the goals that the Project Wedge documents laid out. After an inaugural season that cost in excess of $750 million, the league has not announced major broadcasting or sponsorship deals. And its hopes for a surrender by, or an armistice with, the PGA Tour have instead collapsed into an acrimonious court battle.Mr. Trump with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, right, at a LIV tournament at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in July.Seth Wenig/Associated PressMoreover, the league is nowhere near having signed all of the elite players who Saudi advisers said were required for success. In one presentation slide, as McKinsey projected one of its more optimistic financial forecasts, the participation of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy — who have combined to win 25 major championships — was included under the headline “What you need to believe.”Of those stars, only Mr. Mickelson joined LIV, with a deal that is reportedly worth at least $200 million.Mr. Woods, with his ability to attract fans and sponsors, was seen as essential. Even though the league offered Mr. Woods a long-term plan that could have made him “in the neighborhood” of $700 million to $800 million, according to Greg Norman, LIV’s chief executive, the league has found Mr. Woods to be one of its greatest public antagonists.“I don’t know what their end game is,” Mr. Woods said of LIV last month in the Bahamas, where he was hosting a tournament on the PGA Tour schedule. Mr. Woods acknowledged that the PGA Tour “can’t compete dollar for dollar” with the Saudis, but he said that “an endless pit of money” was not a surefire means to “create legacies.”Saudi soccer fans celebrating during a World Cup match against Argentina in Qatar last month. Worldwide sports have become a pillar in the plan to raise Saudi Arabia’s global stature.Tasneem Alsultan for The New York TimesNot long after Mr. Woods spoke, LIV announced details for several of the 14 tournaments it expects to be the proving grounds for $405 million in prize money next year, in addition to the guaranteed payouts it has promised players. It has said it will release its full schedule “in the coming weeks.”The season will unfold as LIV’s business evolves toward its planned franchise model. Although professional golf has some signature team events like the Ryder Cup, the PGA Tour generally relies on players competing for themselves. LIV, whose music-blasting gatherings feel little like traditional tournaments, is betting that fans will prefer to watch a dozen four-player teams competing against each other.“LIV has repeatedly made clear that our stakeholders take a long-term approach to our business model,” Jonathan Grella, a spokesman for LIV, said in a statement. “Despite the many obstacles put in our path by the PGA Tour, we’re delighted with the success of our beta test year. And we’re confident that over the next few seasons, the remaining pieces of our business model will come to fruition as planned. Our business plan is built upon a path to profitability. We have a nice, long runway and we’re taking off.”Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s 37-year-old de facto ruler, often gravitates toward splashy ventures and has repeatedly said that he sets sky-high targets in hopes of motivating officials to achieve a fraction of them. In its analysis, McKinsey called the golf league “a high-risk high-reward endeavor.”The consultants detailed three possible outcomes for a franchise-driven league: languishing as a start-up; realizing a “coexistence” with the PGA Tour; or, most ambitiously, seizing the mantle of dominance.In the most successful scenario, McKinsey predicted revenues of at least $1.4 billion a year in 2028, with earnings before interest and taxes of $320 million or more. (Federal records show that the PGA Tour, a tax-exempt nonprofit, logged about $1.5 billion in revenue and posted a net income of almost $73 million for 2019.)By contrast, a league mired in start-up status — defined as attracting less than half of the world’s top 12 players, navigating a “lack of excitement from fans,” reeling from limited sponsorships and confronting “severe response from golf society” — stood to lose $355 million, before interest and taxes, in 2028.The American golfer Phil Mickelson, right, at LIV Golf’s inaugural event in St. Albans, England, in June.Adrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesFor now, LIV’s standing tilts sharply that way. Its tournaments have not commanded large crowds, and its broadcasts are largely limited to YouTube. The PGA Tour suspended players who defected, and it is not yet clear whether the organizers of the four major men’s tournaments will allow LIV golfers to participate.Of the top 12 players on a roster in the McKinsey report, LIV has attracted four: Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Mr. Mickelson and Henrik Stenson.McKinsey’s work on the golf project is part of a longstanding pattern of foreign consultants providing rationales for Gulf States’ multibillion-dollar projects, some of which become white elephants. When the crown prince announced plans to build a futuristic city called Neom, McKinsey was among the companies that helped envision proposals for robotic dinosaurs, flying taxis and a ski resort that officials say will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029.The Project Wedge analysis was conducted for Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, which is led day to day by its governor, Yasir al-Rumayyan. Mr. al-Rumayyan, a longtime golf enthusiast, is also chairman of the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation. In 2019, he hosted a “Golf Means Business” tournament at the crown prince’s annual investment conference in Riyadh. The PGA Tour describes Mr. al-Rumayyan in court documents as a micromanager whose “daily involvement and influence bears on everything from LIV’s global strategy to the tiniest detail.”Tiger Woods at the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course in Nassau, Bahamas, this month.Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesOne document obtained by The Times shows that LIV organizers considered assembling an all-star board of business, sports, legal and political titans. But nine of the people who were identified as possible board members, including Ginni Rometty, the former IBM chief executive, and Randall Stephenson, the former AT&T chairman, said they had never been approached about joining.“I didn’t know I was on the list, and I have never been approached,” Mr. Stephenson, who is a member of the PGA Tour’s board, said in an interview. If asked, he said, he would decline. “It would be a quick conversation,” he said.Most others listed in the document, including the basketball legend Michael Jordan; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and Mark Parker, the executive chairman of Nike, did not respond to requests for comment. McKinsey did not appear to prepare the document, which carries the logo of Golf Saudi, which Mr. al-Rumayyan leads.Mr. Grella, the LIV spokesman, did not answer inquiries about the current composition of a board, which a player handbook said would initially have up to 10 members, including Mr. al-Rumayyan and Mr. Norman.Despite its struggles, LIV is making plans for tournament venues years into the future and is trying to sign more stars. Mr. Norman said in November that a television deal was “a priority,” and as the new season nears, golf fans and executives alike have debated what boost the new league might get if one of its players captured a major championship in 2023.That, Mr. Norman has suggested, would be proof of “how we work within the ecosystem.”It would also be a sign that an outright ban of LIV players from the sport’s biggest stages, one of the gravest hazards that McKinsey flagged, had so far been avoided.Greg Norman, center, the chief executive of LIV Golf, has said that a television deal is “a priority.”Glyn Kirk/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesKevin Draper More