More golf stars have defected from the PGA Tour to the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf series ahead of the US Open this week.
The highly-anticipated LIV Golf series made its anticipated debut at The Centurion Club in St Albans last weekend, with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia headlining a mixed field in terms of big name pull and talent. Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, secured a one-stroke victory and a £3.86 million payout with a one-stroke victory.
The Saudi-backed LIV series is the most lucrative golf tournament in history. Its $25million (£20million) prize dwarfs the £7million on offer at the Canadian Open, the PGA Tour event won by Rory McIlroy last weekend.
The eight-event series, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), has a prize pot of just over £200m for 2022, while an extra £1.6 billion has reportedly been secured to expand the event to a 14-event league by 2024. Former World No. 1 Johnson joined Ryder Cup legends Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood along with major champions Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen in following Mickelson to the new series.
Former British Masters champion Richard Bland and PGA Tour veteran Kevin Na also signed up, while reigning US Amateur winner James Piot is among the young players who featured in the inaugural event in London. Ahead of the second round at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland from June 30, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler are set to join LIV Golf.
DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion who became a sensation as the longest driver on the PGA Tour, insisted the move to LIV Golf was ‘a business decision, first and foremost’ regardless of the threat of being suspended from his former tour. On Monday, DeChambeau said: “There was a lot of financials to it and a lot of time. I get to have a life outside of the game of golf as well.”
Who do you think will be the next star to leave the PGA Tour for LIV Golf? Let us know in the comments section.
The 28-year-old was reportedly offered a guaranteed $100 million (approximately £83 million) to join the LIV Golf series which is fronted by Greg Norman. DeChambeau suggested the move was ’a business decision for my family’s future’ and he intends to play the final seven LIV Golf events in 2022.
Johnson, Na, Garcia, Oosthuizen, Schwartzel, and Branden Grace are several names who have resigned from the PGA Tour, and it means two-time major champion Johnson will not be able to be selected for future Ryder Cups. Johnson and Mickelson are among 17 players already suspended from the PGA Tour by commissioner Jay Monahan for taking part in the first LIV event.
Monahan made it clear other players who go the LIV route would be suspended as well, although DeChambeau said he has not resigned his PGA Tour membership and hoped to keep playing on the tour.