Express & Star

Staffordshire to host golf's rebel LIV superstars

Staffordshire will host the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf League after it was confirmed the stunning JCB Golf & Country Club will stage an event next summer.

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The course, next to the JCB factory at Rocester, near Uttoxeter, will host the likes of superstars Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka from July 26-28.

The club, which only opened its doors five years ago and has already played host to the Legends Tour and the Rose Ladies Series.

It is also a venue used regularly for practice rounds by established DP World Tour professionals.

Rumours emerged last month that the Staffordshire venue would replace the Centurion Club, near London, on the LIV calendar – and that has now been confirmed.

LIV has been at war with the established US PGA Tour and European DP World Tour since its inception last year. Numerous top golf stars defected to join the breakaway tour in return for huge contracts, funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.

These also included England’s Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood as well as 2022 Open Champion Cameron Smith, two-time major winners Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer, who were accused by human rights groups of helping the country’s repressive regime of alleged ‘sportswashing’.

JCB chief executive Graeme Macdonald said: “We have very ambitious goals for the JCB Golf & Country Club and the whole team is absolutely delighted that LIV Golf has selected the course as its sole UK venue for 2024.

“To have secured this tour event so early in the life of the JCB Golf & Country club is testament to everyone’s hard work in creating a course which is already recognised as one of the best in the country.

“Having already hosted four professional tour events, this news in another great step towards putting the JCB Golf & Country Club firmly on the international golf map.”

LIV Golf commissioner and CEO Greg Norman said: “LIV Golf made history in the UK with our groundbreaking launch in 2022 and memorable encore event this past summer.

“For 2024, we’re thrilled to expand our reach in the UK with a new host venue in JCB Golf & Country Club, one of the top courses in the country.

“Only five years old, this fantastic course has already proven its mettle on the professional stage and will add to an exciting summer swing in Europe.”

Spanning 240 acres of rolling countryside, the JCB Golf & Country Club has been hailed as a masterpiece in contemporary course design since it opened in 2018.