Ian Poulter during the LIV Golf series press conference. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo.)
MEXICO--LIV Golf announced its 12 rosters of four-players teams for the upstart league's second season Monday night, making official the reported signings of Thomas Pieters, Danny Lee, Dean Burmester and Brendan Steele.
After the Saudi-funded rival to the PGA Tour debuted in 2022 with its "Invitational Series" season, LIV locked in 48 golfers for its expanded second campaign, which will begin this weekend at Mayakoba Resort's El Camaleon Golf Course in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Pieters, a Belgian who is No. 35 in the Official World Golf Ranking as of this week, joined Bubba Watson's team, RangeGoats. Pieters, who played primarily on the DP World Tour, recently took to Twitter for a parting shot at the PGA Tour after not qualifying for last week's Genesis Invitational.
"Sad to miss my favorite tournament of the year. Because well as #34 in world, I just couldn't get in @PGATOUR," Pieters wrote.
Lee, from New Zealand, will be on Iron Heads, captained by Kevin Na. Burmester filled out the all-South African team, Stinger, led by Louis Oosthuizen.
Steele joined HyFlyers, captained by six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, whose commitment to LIV last season served as a catalyst for other top names to follow.
One team will feature three co-captains. Majesticks has Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood of England and Henrik Stenson of Sweden working together, with the roster rounded out by Englishman Sam Horsfield.
Other teams include Torque, a group with a South American bent, captained by Chilean up-and-comer Joaquin Niemann and adding recent signings Sebastian Munoz of Colombia and Mito Pereira of Chile; and Cameron Smith's all-Australian team, now called Ripper.
Players who finished in the top 24 of the 2022 Invitational Series were guaranteed spots for the 2023 LIV Golf League, according to a press release. American Sihwan Kim earned a spot for winning the Asian Tour Order of Merit, and Zimbabwe's Scott Vincent did the same by winning the Asian Tour International Series Order of Merit.
The rest of the roster spots were filled by captains' selections and league exemptions. It was not immediately clear what that meant for the players who played LIV events in 2022 and did not qualify for 2023, and whether they would be able to go back to their previous tours if they wished.
The league continues to be a source of controversy in the game of golf, both for its upheaval of the ecosystem of the PGA Tour and international circuits, and for its use of Saudi Arabia's sovereign fund money, which critics have called an attempt to "sportswash" the kingdom's poor human rights record.
"In less than a year, LIV Golf has reinvigorated the professional game and laid the foundation for the sport's future. In 2023, the LIV Golf League comes to life," LIV CEO and commissioner Greg Norman said in a statement. "The most popular sports in the world are team sports, and our league format has already begun to build connections with new audiences around the globe.
"Major champions, current and future Hall of Famers, and up-and-coming stars are all committed to creating this new platform for world-class competition as the sport evolves for the next generation."
The series will grow from eight events last season to 14 in 2023. The Mayakoba season opener will be played Feb. 24-26.