BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — There’s no questioning LIV Golf had its most successful event fan wise three weeks ago in Adelaide, Australia.
However, there may be a new top event in the United States.
Fans came out in droves for the first round of LIV Golf Tulsa. They braved rainy conditions at some times, as well. Golf fans in Oklahoma are one of the reasons LIV Golf decided to come to the state, and they turned out Friday to Cedar Ridge Country Club.
“I think this is probably the best one we’ve had in America, to be quite honest,” first-round leader Branden Grace said of the crowds. “In Australia it was fantastic. Singapore was really good, as well. We came out there with a warm welcome, and you come to Tulsa, the guys are really loving it out here. They’re sport hungry, or event hungry, if I can put it that way.
“I’ve heard for the first time in America where — the U.S. where you see where the guys are going to go this week; are they going to support the PGA TOUR or come out to LIV, and I heard a hell of a lot more people saying they’re coming out to the LIV and seeing what it’s all about. Just shows we’re doing something right.”
LIV Golf Tulsa: Photos | Merchandise
There’s no official attendance, but LIV officials estimated at least 10,000 fans were going to be at the tournament each day. The number was that and possibly more during the first round.
Now, compared to the 2022 PGA Championship, which was held about 10 miles away at Southern Hills Country Club, the LIV Golf Tulsa crowd is minuscule, and it’s not quite fair to correlate the 14th event in the league’s history to a major championship. It does, however, compare more to the Senior PGA Championship that was held at Southern Hills in 2021.
But even at that, it’s a sign of growth and interest, even with all of the commotion and controversy surrounding the league.
“The crowds were amazing, and the energy was great,” Brendan Steele said. “So exciting that everybody showed up and is having a great time out here because we think we have a great thing going, and I love to see people in new places come out and check it out.”
Playing only 3.5 hours north of the PGA Tour event in McKinney, Texas, this is the closest the two tours have competed near each other since LIV began play last June. But the location, being in a golf-crazed state like Oklahoma, is pivotal for LIV having one of its largest crowds yet.
Every player who talked with media after the round spoke about the crowds, including former Oklahoma State star Talor Gooch, who has won the past two LIV events.
“For the American events so far, Miami last year might have been the only one that felt like it was bigger than today from a crowd perspective,” Gooch said. “I was happy that Oklahoma turned out today.”
Added Dustin Johnson: “I think the crowds were great today. A lot of fans out there. There was a lot of support.”