Dustin Johnson has surprised the golf world by signing up for the primary LIV Golf occasion because the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway league lastly introduced its inaugural area.
The previous world no.1 and two-time Main champion declared his ‘full dedication’ to the PGA Tour in February – however will now compete on the debut LIV Golf Invitational match on the Centurion Membership in St Albans on June 9.
Johnson, now world no.13, is the largest and most stunning identify on an inventory that features veterans reminiscent of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia – whose participation was all-but confirmed already.
Phil Mickelson, who’s taking a break from golf after sparking outrage with feedback concerning the breakaway league and the Saudi regime, is conspicuous by his absence on the 42-man record, though six spots stay open.
The PGA Tour declined all requests for releases from its members, however gamers have been provided enormous sums to defy orders and partake in Greg Norman’s LIV Golf undertaking – which is bankrolled by the Saudi Public Funding fund.
Gamers face questions over ‘sportswashing’ and money-grabbing for saying sure to the revolutionary new sequence, that includes 54 holes, shotgun begins, no cut-lines, team-elements and IPL-style franchises.
It’s rumoured Johnson, 37, was provided as a lot as £119million to hitch the insurgent league and it’s attainable these talks led to the delayed launch of the sphere, which got here 4 days late and eight days earlier than the beginning of the occasion.
‘DJ’ is third on the all-time profession earnings record, behind Tiger Woods and Mickelson, having raked in £59million on the course and plenty of thousands and thousands extra in endorsements.
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The winner of the first LIV Golf event will take home £3m of a £20m pot, making it the most lucrative golf tournament in history, with last place bagging £95,000.
Johnson’s agent David Winkle said in a statement: “Dustin has been contemplating the opportunity off-and-on for the past couple of years.
“Ultimately, he decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it. Dustin has never had any issue with the PGA Tour and is grateful for all it has given him, but in the end, felt this was too compelling to pass up.”
The Centurion Club event takes place at the same time as the PGA Tour’s Canadian Open and one week before the US Open, golf’s third Major of the year, both of which Johnson has previously won.
It is unclear what punishment the PGA Tour will impose or when any sanctions will come into effect, although commissioner Jay Monahan has told players they face bans.
However, LIV Golf has pledged to cover any financial penalties and represent their players in court, where this battle is destined to end up.
Canadian Open organisers announced on Twitter: “Together with our partners at RBC, we are disappointed to learn at this late stage that Dustin Johnson has made the decision to play the LIV Golf Event. As a past RBC Canadian Open champion, Canadian golf fans were looking forward to DJ’s return this year.”
Full list of players announced by LIV Golf
Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat (Amateur)
Hennie Du Plessis
James Plot (Amateur)
Most current stars, including Woods and Rory McIlroy, remain committed to the PGA Tour, expressing scepticism towards Norman and his disruptors.
While LIV Golf’s critics would’ve been hoping for a field made up of yesterday’s stars looking for one last pay day, the arrival of Johnson changes things and others could now follow.
Norman, the two-time Open champion, said: “Free agency has finally come to golf. This is an opportunity to start a movement that will change the course of history by bringing new and open competition to the sport we all love.
“The desire shown by the players to participate in LIV Golf demonstrates their emphatic belief in our model and confidence in what we’re building for the future.”
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