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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Joshua Lees

Inside Valderrama's LIV Golf switch including merger clause and seven-year commitment

There are not many more iconic golf courses in Europe than the famed Real Club Valderrama, but after a near 30-year long stay on the DP World Tour schedule, its relationship with the European circuit is no more.

Instead Valderrama opted to link up with LIV Golf, and despite controversy surrounding the breakaway league, the club are more than looking forward to hosting their first edition of LIV Andalucia. The LIV switch will have been a dagger through the heart of golf's traditionalists, but the iconic Spanish club are happy to embrace change.

One key man behind the decision was Valderrama's general manager and chief executive Javier Reviriego, and in an exclusive chat with Mirror Sport, he detailed just how the new deal with the LIV setup came around.

Saudi Golf is no stranger to the Andalucía area, with the Ladies Aramco Series hosting an event at Valderrama's nearby neighbours La Reserva in the summer of 2022. This proved to be the perfect opportunity to poach one of golf's most iconic venues for LIV bosses, and one they would take.

Having met the league's representatives over a round of golf and spot of lunch, Reviriego had a huge decision to make. They were more than aware their DP World Tour contract was coming to an end, but the controversy and a lack of longevity surrounding LIV Golf posed a question of it's own.

"At the time it was a risky decision," Reviriego, told Mirror Sport. "LIV is a startup tour, they have one year of life. It was a risky decision but we thought golf was probably going to change direction with the PIF [Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia] stepping in. We decided to go for it and we are very happy that we did.”

Javier Reviriego pictured speaking alongside Sergio Garcia at Valderrama (LIV Golf)

Of course cutting ties with a Tour they had enjoyed a near 30-year relationship was tough, but with DP World Tour fields dwindling, it was a decision Valderrama felt they had to make. "It was sad," he added. "Almost 30 years of the relationship. We had great friends at the DP World Tour, and still have great friends, I speak to them frequently. But it was a business and strategic decision."

The world of golf has been littered with broken relationships following the emergence of LIV, but Reviriego reiterated that this was not the case with his friends at the Tour. He went on: "It is not because we had a fallout, not at all. We thought it was better for our club to make a change and to go for a new opportunity. There is nothing against the DP World Tour at all."

Valderrama had worked with the DP World Tour for nearly 30 years (GETTY)

Amid a turbulent 12 months, Valderrama hosts arguably the most anticipated LIV event yet, with the breakaway circuit returning for the first time since it was confirmed it would soon work under one entity alongside its rivals at the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. It remains to be seen as to what the means for each circuit, and how it will affect the running of each schedule.

Valderrama, however, had prepared for such an event, with the general manager revealing their hosting spot was protected under a merger clause. "When we negotiated this contract, which took a few months, I was very persistent that we included a clause," Reviriego went on.

LIV Golf is funded by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (Seth Wenig/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

"So we have a clause that says if there is any sort of joint venture or merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV, that all our rights would be maintained and responded." Amid the groundbreaking agreement it remains unknown what LIV's plan will be post 2023, but as far as Valderrama is concerned the Spanish setup is set to feature on the schedule five times over the next seven years.

Detailing the agreement, the CEO went on: "We have a seven-year agreement. And within that seven years we have to host five events. They can be in a row, or we can skip one year but we have a five-tournament deal." The first of those five kicks off on Friday, giving Valderrama the chance to once again showcase its beauty - and challenge - as some of the best players in the world take to the course.

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