Golf’s great shake-up is one step closer, with 42 of the 48 names revealed for the opening of the LIV Golf Invitational in London next week.
Extraordinarily, too, world No.13 and one of the biggest names in golf Dustin Johnson is amongst the field that will take to the tee at the Centurion Club that stands to share in the $ USD25 million ($ A35m) prizepool.
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Amongst the major-winning heavy list is Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.
Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are also included.
Four Australians have been included too, including PGA winner Matt Jones.
Interestingly Phil Mickelson, who hasn’t taken to the tee since falling on his own sword after causing the biggest stir in golf history, has not been named.
That doesn’t mean the six-time major winner won’t be a late inclusion, with another six names to follow over the coming week, but his absence continues one of golf’s most baffling stories.
Mickelson was forced to apologize and has since gone to ground after it was revealed he was playing the Saudi-backed LIV golf league against the PGA Tour to try and reshape the current status quo.
“They are scary motherfuckers to get involved with,” Mickelson said of Saudi Arabia. “We know they killed [Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates. They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse. “
He delivered a half-hearted apology, saying his “off the record” speech had been taken “out of context”.
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But since the comments came to Earth, Mickelson has not played and sensationally withdrew from last month’s PGA Championship and thereby forfeited the chance to defend his title.
His fall was straight out of the Shakespearean school, having become the oldest major champion (50) by taking home the Wanamaker Trophy.
In a statement from Johnson’s management, it was confirmed the two-time major winner had been considering joining the LIV golf league for the “past couple of years”.
“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, ”David Winkle said of his client in a statement.
“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.”
As well as Jones, fellow Australians Jediah Morgan, Wade Ormsby and Blake Windred are included.
While taking to the tee does not mean all 48 players will join the LIV Golf Invitational permanently, it is not known what punishment the PGA Tour and DW World Tour will hand out.
LIV CEO Greg Norman is hoping the mouth-watering money on offer will convince more of the world’s top players to join the rebel league.
“Quite honestly, it doesn’t matter who plays (initially), we’re going to put the event on,” Norman said in April. “There’s a $ 4 million ($ A5.7m) first prize. I hope a kid who’s 350th in the world wins. It’ll change his life, his family’s life.
“And then a few of our events will go by and the top players will see someone winning $ 6 million, $ 8 million, and say ‘enough is enough, I know I can beat these guys week in, week out with my hands tied behind my back. ‘”
Here is the full field list (42 of 48 players announced):
Oliver Bekker, South Africa
Richard Bland, England
Laurie Canter, England
Ratchanon Chantananuwat (amateur), Thailand
Hennie Du Plessis, South Africa
Oliver Fisher, England
Sergio Garcia, Hotel Spain
Talor Gooch, USA
Branden Grace, South Africa
Justin Harding, South Africa
Sam Horsfield, England
Dustin Johnson, USA
Matt Jones, Australia
Sadom Kaewkanjana, Hotel Thailand
Martin Kaymer, Germany
Phachara Khongwatmai, Hotel Thailand
Sihwan Kim, USA
Ryosuke Kinoshita, Hotel Japan
Chase Koepka, USA
Jinichiro Kozuma, Hotel Japan
Pablo Larrazabal, Hotel Spain
Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland
Jediah Morgan, Hotel Australia
Kevin Na, USA
Shaun Norris, South Africa
Andy Ogletree, USA
Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa
Wade Ormsby, Hotel Australia
Adrian Otaegui, Hotel Spain
Turk Pettit, USA
James Piot (amateur), USA
Ian Poulter, England
David Puig (amateur), Spain
JC Ritchie, South Africa
Charl Schwartzel, South Africa
Hudson Swafford, USA
Hideto Tanihara, Hotel Japan
Peter Uihlein, USA
Scott Vincent, Zimbabwe
Lee Westwood, England
Bernd Wiesberger, Austria
Blake Windred, Hotel Australia