PGA Tour 2022, LIV Golf, Saudi Golf League; reaction to Dustin Johnson news; punishment, Phil Mickelson, world view

Dustin Johnson just dropped a $ 174 million bombshell on world golf.

The former world No.1 performed a shock U-turn on Wednesday when he declared for the inaugral LIV Golf Invitational Series event in England, the new Saudi-backed golf circuit.

The American two-time major champion said in February that he would stay loyal to the US PGA Tour before becoming one of the two top-20 ranked players listed in the field for the 54-hole tournament starting on June 9.

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According to reports he will be paid $ 174 million (AUD) to join the league.

Former British Open champion and world number 20 Louis Oosthuizen, former Masters champions Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia, plus former US Open champions Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer are also in the field.

The US PGA Tour has refused to grant releases for its players in the LIV event, which clashes with next week’s Canadian Open.

Dustin Johnson has declared for the innaugral LIV event.Source: AFP

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson’s name was absent despite previously expressing

Mickelson, who became golf’s oldest major champion at last year’s US PGA Championship at age 50, hasn’t played since making controversial comments about LIV Golf.

Johnson’s defection was met with shock and anger within the golfing world amid fears it could trigger a wave of players following suit and turning their back on the PGA Tour in the United States and the DP World Tour.

Oliver Brown, chief sports writer at The Telegraph in the UK, delivered a withering takedown of Johnson.

“Dustin Johnson’s shameless volte face in joining the Saudi golf breakaway, just 100 days after he affirmed his loyalty to the PGA Tour, is one to send a shiver of dread through the game’s traditional bastions of power,” he wrote.

“Unlike his fellow defector Sergio Garcia, this is not some past-his-prime, one-and-done major champion. This is a figure who, only 19 months ago, won the Masters with a record score of 20 under par, and who held the world No 1 spot longer than any player since Tiger Woods.

“If he can be seduced into forsaking his lifelong allegiances for the sake of some gaudy cash-grab, then cold business logic suggests that anyone can.”

Johnson’s U-turn was met with fierce criticism in the golfing world.Source: AFP

Brown said Johnson cared about one thing only, his bank balance.

“Johnson has emerged as even more brazenly unprincipled than Phil Mickelson, the man who said he would overlook Saudi complicity in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in favor of a” once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the tour operates. ”

“Where Mickelson is unexpectedly absent from the LIV Series’ 42-man field, Johnson is only too happy to be the poster-boy for a regime described by a US intelligence report as having butchered a journalist.

“Loyalty, in his book, could go hang. It mattered not that next week’s Canadian Open had already issued promotional posters with his face at the heart of them. Or that the event was backed by the Royal Bank of Canada, which has since 2018 paid him a fortune as one of his primary sponsors.

“All he prized, as an already phenomenally rich man, with over £ 60 million in on-course earnings alone, was the chance to become richer still.”

Former Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul McGinley, who is on the board of the DP World Tour, said money could be the only motivation.

“This will go down as a historic moment in the game,” he told Sky Sports News.

“If this Saudi league does gather a head of speed and does challenge the two established tours in the world, considering the background and the whole idea of ​​team events, it could turn golf upside-down and on its head.

“We’ll have to see how it plays out. At this stage [Johnson’s] only one player, all the remaining top players in the world have stayed completely loyal to the PGA Tour.

McGinley said Johnson’s move was a shock but said he was not convinced it would lead to a rush of players following him.

Sergio Garcia has also joined the new league.Source: AFP

“Johnson was a bit out of leftfield considering he had pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour a mere six weeks ago,” McGinley said.

“He is in the prime of his career. With due respect to the other guys, they’re in the twilight of their careers. Here is a guy who is very much considered as being one of the favorites whenever a major championship comes around.

“It’s a big leap for him, a brave leap, considering all of the other current top players in the world have remained loyal to the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.

“In terms of floodgates, we just have to wait and see what happens and how this Saudi league is going to evolve, whether the players decide this is a better option than what they’ve had in the last 50-odd years.

“It’s not like they’re doing bad on those tours either. We’ve put the biggest prizes in the history of the European Tour on the table this year, and the PGA Tour has done something similar.

“These guys are making a lot of money. The opportunity to make a lot more money has obviously been appealing to them and why they’re going where they are. ”

Former professional and Sky Sports expert Rob Lee, meanwhile, accused Johnson of “pure greed”.

“Before [Johnson] pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour, he was one of the list of players that people thought might go and join the Saudi operation, ”Lee told Sky Sports News.

“Then he said,‘ No, I’m all PGA Tour, I’m all in ’.

“And now this is a surprise that he’s double-turned again and said that he’s got to go and feed his family, which by the way must take some feeding because he’s $ 75m richer for his career earnings and all the endorsements over the years.

“It’s pure greed. It’s only about the money it’s about nothing else. The work that these organizations [PGA Tour and DP World Tour] have had to do to get golf in such a healthy position that it’s in now has been unbelievable.

“Be absolutely assured there will be a comeback from the tours.”

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