Sports

Dustin Johnson Joins Field for League Looking to Rival the PGA Tour

Dustin Johnson, who in February pledged his loyalty to the U.S.-based PGA Tour, shall be the top-ranked golfer in the inaugural occasion of a Saudi-backed rival tour subsequent week at the Centurion Golf Club outdoors London. Phil Mickelson, who not too long ago expressed some measure of help for the various circuit, was not amongst these listed in the discipline for the event.

Mickelson’s absence is a light shock, although there have been nonetheless six spots out there on Tuesday, so he might change his thoughts. Johnson’s inclusion is a breach in the broad solidarity expressed by the PGA Tour’s elite males’s golfers over the final six months.

Johnson, 37 and ranked thirteenth in the world, was certainly one of 42 gamers listed in the discipline for the first occasion of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, whose main shareholder is the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. The upstart league provides no-cut tournaments with $25 million in whole prize money at every, and ensures prime gamers thousands and thousands in look charges no matter their efficiency.

Other gamers in the discipline had been anticipated, with many — like Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Richard Bland, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter — older than 40. Overall, whereas there are 16 gamers in subsequent week’s LIV Golf discipline ranked in the prime 100, solely two — Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen — are ranked in the prime 30.

The PGA Tour and the established European golf tour have denied releases for member golfers to play in LIV Golf, which is led by the retired main champion Greg Norman. PGA Tour officers have mentioned that these enjoying in any of the breakaway circuit’s tournaments would danger punishment, which might embrace suspensions or a lack of tour membership.

The subsequent step in the conflict could also be in courtroom. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has insisted that the tour’s attorneys imagine any self-discipline handed to golfers who play for the rival tour will stand up to authorized scrutiny.

Johnson, a two-time main winner who has collected greater than $74 million in career earnings from the PGA Tour, mentioned in February that he was “fully committed to the PGA Tour.” It was a sentiment echoed by each participant in the prime 10, and every of the main golfers in a youthful cohort that has dominated the PGA Tour in the final two seasons.

Rory McIlroy, the four-time main champion, known as the new rival league “dead in the water.”

Johnson’s agent, David Winkle, issued an announcement on Tuesday evening: “Dustin has been contemplating this 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.”

“Free agency has finally come to golf.,” Norman mentioned in his personal assertion. “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.”

The LIV Golf collection consists of eight occasions from June to October, together with one in Thailand and 5 in the United States. In late July, the host website shall be the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

Saudi Arabia’s function in the new tour has already prompted controversy. Mickelson set off a hailstorm of criticism in February after he acknowledged Saudi Arabia had a “horrible record on human rights” — together with the homicide of a Washington Post journalist — however mentioned he considered the new tour as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to apply strain on the PGA Tour to enhance participant revenues. Mickelson later mentioned his remarks had been “reckless.”

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