The LIV Golf Invitational Series rolled out the red carpet for Dustin Johnson and Co on Tuesday evening ahead of its inaugural £20million ($25m) event this week.
The team names, captains and players were confirmed in the draft for the opening event of the Saudi-backed league at the Centurion Club and the organisation pulled out all the stops as it welcomed its stars to the gala ahead of the action.
Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia were all suited and booted as they made their way down the red carpet.
The LIV Series rolled out the red carpet for Dustin Johnson (right) and Phil Mickelson (left)
Branden Grace (left), Lee Westwood (second left) and Sergio Garcia (right) also posed for the cameras at Tuesday night’s gala
Mickelson, who confirmed his participation in the 48-man field on Monday as widely expected, is set to make his comeback in St Albans this week after his four-month self-imposed exile following his controversial comments regarding the ‘scary motherf*****s’ Saudis and the ‘obnoxious greed’ of the PGA Tour.
Stepping out for the LIV’s inaugural gala, the six-time major champion made his first appearance in the spotlight since February and seemed to be debuting a new look.
The 51-year-old, wearing a dark shirt and trousers with a black leather jacket over the top, had slicked back his slightly longer hair and sported a scruffy beard and moustache.
The six-time major champions appeared to be debuting a new look as he slicked back his hair and sported a new beard
Inside the venue, the lefty posed alongside former World No 1 Johnson, who made headlines when he resigned from the PGA Tour earlier on Tuesday and is believed to have signed on after receiving a signing bonus in excess of £100m – just months after pledging allegiance to the PGA.
The 2020 Masters Champion cut a more sophisticated shape as he wore a navy suit and light blue shirt, unbuttoned at the collar, topped off with a white pocket square.
Englishman Poulter also opted for a navy suit with a white shirt but relaxed the look slightly by donning a pair of white trainers.
Johnson and Ian Poulter (right) cut sophisticated shapes in navy suits and shirts at the event
Both players appeared relaxed inside the venue as they enjoyed themselves ahead of the draw
Meanwhile, his fellow Ryder Cup legends were slightly more casual with Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia foregoing the suit jacket and the Northern Irishmen even rolling his shirt sleeves up.
Lee Westwood wore a pair of khaki cargo trousers and light grey cardigan as he was pictured on the red carpet alongside his wife and caddy Helen Storey.
Mickelson, Johnson, Poulter, Garcia and McDowell are five of the 12 team captains named for the opening event, which includes a four-man team competition along with individual play over 54 holes.
Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na, Martin Kaymer, Peter Uihlein, Sihwan Kim, Talor Gooch and Wade Orsmby make up the remaining skippers.
Graeme McDowell (right) and Garcia were slightly more casual, foregoing the suit jacket
Westwood wore a pair of khaki cargo trousers and light grey cardigan as he was pictured on the red carpet alongside his wife and caddy Helen Storey (right)
Former Ryder Cup team-mates, turned Saudi rebels, McDowell and Poulter posed together
Surprisingly, Westwood, who seemed almost guaranteed to be the next Ryder Cup captain for Team Europe before his involvement in the LIV Series, was not selected to skipper a team.
During the draft, hosted by Kirsty Gallacher and Shane O’Donoghue, each captain selected three players to tee it up in their team in the 54-hole shotgun start.
Each captain was greeted on stage by Greg Norman, chief executive and commissioner of LIV Golf, to receive their team cap before the selection process began.
Johnson will lead ‘4 Aces’, and completing his team will be Shaun Norris, Oliver Bekker and Kevin Yuan.
Johnson, who is healdining the field this week, is one of 12 captains for the 54-hole event
Each captain was greeted on stage by Greg Norman, chief executive and commissioner of LIV Golf, to receive their team cap
Kevin Na (right), who was the first rebel to announce his resignation from the PGA Tour is pictured alongside Sihwan Kim (left)
Mickelson’s ‘Hy Flyers’ will be made up of himself, Justin Harding, Ratchanon Chantananuwat and Chase Koepka.
Poulter’s team was already pre-determined due to an agreement to play with Sam Horsfield, Laurie Canter and Westwood – hence his exclusion from captaincy.
McDowell will be leading out ‘Niblicks GC’, which features Bernd Wiesberger who made his Ryder Cup debut last year at Whistling Straits.
Meanwhile, Garcia has taken a gamble with two amateurs in his side – David Puig and James Piot – and World No 239 Jediah Morgan.
Na, who was the first player to announce his resignation from the PGA Tour this week, will captain his side dubbed ‘Iron Heads GC’ formed of Sadom Kaewkanjana, Hideto Tanihara and Viraj Madappa.
The American made a trade with Peter Uihlein following the draft, with Na’s team getting Tanihara and Uihlein’s team getting British veteran Richard Bland.
Like Poulter, South African Oosthuizen has lined up a team composed of his countrymen with Hennie du Plessis, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace on team ‘Stinger’.
Teams and Captains
4 ACES GC- Dustin Johnson
Shaun Norris, Oliver Bekker, Kevin Yuan
HY FLYERS GC- Phil Mickelson
Justin Harding, TK Chantananuwat (a), Chase Koepka
PUNCH GC- Wade Ormsby
Matt Jones, Ryosuke Kinoshita, Blake Windred
CLEEKS GC- Martin Kaymer
Pablo LarrazabalJC RitchieIan Snyman
IRON HEADS GC – Kevin Na
Sadom Kaewkanjana, Hideto Tanihara, Viraj Madappa
SMASH GC- Sihwan Kim
Scott Vincent, Jinichiro Kozuma, Itthipat Buranatanyarat
CRUSHERS GC- Peter Uihlein
Richard Bland, Phachara Khongwatmai, Travis Smyth
MAJESTICKS GC – Ian Poulter
Lee Westwood, Sam Horsfield, Laurie Canter
STINGER GC – Louis Oosthuizen
Hennie du Plessis, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace
FIREBALLS GC – Sergio Garcia
David Puig (a), James Piot (a), Jediah Morgan
NIBLICKS GC – Graeme McDowell
Bernd Wiesberger, Turk Pettit, Oliver Fisher
TORQUE GC – Talor Gooch
Hudson Swafford, Adrian Otaegui, Andy Ogletree