The first LIV Golf event is being staged this week in England, and today was the first day for actual press conferences.

The Saudi-backed sportswashing effort that has signed Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, and more couldn’t have had a more on-brand day, right down to their choice of emcee: Ari Fleischer. Yes, that Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary during the George W. Bush administration. An auspicious start for a new sports league!

He made his presence felt, too, ending a press conference with Graeme McDowell that had ventured a bit too close to reality for the taste of the LIV folks:

From there, things somehow went further off the rails. Associated Press reporter Rob Harris attempted to ask Kevin Na about the status of deferred payments from the PGA Tour now that Na has resigned his membership, a fairly basic inquiry. He was essentially shouted down by a different moderator; it’s not often you here someone say “Excuse you!” to a reporter as if they’re an elementary school teacher admonishing a student for speaking out of turn.

Amazingly, Harris was actually (briefly) ejected for this.

Thanks to The Fried Egg, we got a look at the LIV promotional materials, which included a watermarked Getty image AND the likeness of Rory McIlroy, who is very much not involved with LIV, has spoken out against it, and was called “brainwashed” this week by LIV CEO Greg Norman.

The entire thing manages to feel shoddy as hell, which is pretty much exactly how anyone paying attention would have expected it to go.

Oh, and also there was a robot for some reason:

And Phil Mickelson showed up looking like he’s leaning fully into the heel turn he’s taking with his involvement:

The thing about the entire LIV venture, though, is that it doesn’t have to make money. It doesn’t have to sell tickets (which is good, as they’ve been trying to give them away for free in London), it doesn’t have to land a massive television rights deal (also good, as they don’t have one and don’t seem close.)

It just has to exist, with players like DJ and Phil going in front of microphones and massive LIV Golf-emblazoned backdrops and pretending that this is all fun and cool and good, and hey, while you’re at it, give MBS a big hand for all of this! (No pun intended.) The PIF can burn through all kinds of cash, maybe even driving the PGA Tour to the brink (at which point maybe LIV does become a viable league on its own), because it has no real need for profit. That’s not the mission.

Surely it would be nice, and if they dump Greg Norman overboard (figuratively, although you never know given the people involved here) it’s a sign they’re getting more serious about being taken seriously.

But until then, it’s going to be full of soulless, depressing spectacles like this. Let’s just hope there’s at least more unintentional comedy on the way.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.