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Former world No.1 Lee Westwood says that LIV Golf is winning the public over after an acrimonious launch two years ago.

Westwood, 51, was speaking ahead of a busy month for the Saudi-backed league, with events taking place at Valderrama this week and in the UK in a fortnight’s time.

The co-captain of Majesticks GC reflected on where the circuit is now compared to where it was in June 2020.

At LIV’s inaugural event at the Centurion Club, Westwood and compatriot Ian Poulter endured serious scrutiny from fans and media alike over the ethics and morality of their switch to the league.

The English duo were even asked if they would consider playing in Russia for Vladimir Putin if the price was right.

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However, Westwood insists those days are gone and that LIV has firmly established itself as part of the sport’s mainstream.

“The tide seems to have turned on LIV Golf” he said. “It feels like it’s been more accepted. I get fewer questions about playing in Russia nowadays.

“It seems people are understanding what it’s about now and starting to see it as a different form of golf and, you know, starting to enjoy it more, I guess.”

Westwood also defended LIV against those who have mocked it for claiming to “grow the game”.

“We are growing the game, but myself and Ian and a lot of other players, we’ve been growing the game for 25 years,” he added. “I’ve had golf schools, academies, junior golf tournaments. Since the early 2000s, you know, this is not a new thing, ‘growing the game’.

“This is just us focusing more on that now, and having home courses and home academies speeds up that process. We don’t want to miss out.

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“Somewhere like the UK, kids have a lot of choices of a lot of different sports, and golf is probably fifth or sixth on that list. In the United States, they’re drawn towards American football and basketball and hockey, and golf is probably low down on that list.

“We’ve got to elevate golf further up that list for kids and give them an easier route into it and a better chance of taking it up. That’s where you grow the game, and you find all this new talent.

“People get hung up on this ‘LIV Golf trying to grow the game’, and it seems to wind them up a little bit. I don’t know why it should wind them up to try and do a good thing. But we have literally been growing the game for a quarter of a century.”

Poulter echoed Westwood’s sentiments, saying: “The narrative has changed, I think, and is changing within the media, which is good. Finally, we’re getting rid of some of the stigma and some of the boring questions that are getting very tired, and we can actually start talking about the good things that we have done and we are doing and we’re progressing towards.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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