DJ heads breakaway Saudi event in London

We already knew about most of the headline players for the first event of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational series in London next week. But Dustin Johnson has surprised many with his inclusion in the field list released today.

The two-time major winner had previously pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour, where he has played since 2008, won 24 titles and made close to $75 million to sit third on the all-time money list.

Dustin Johnson Dustin Johnson (Credit: WGC)

So Johnson’s decision to play is an interesting one. He is in the enviable position of having earned enough money to never have to work again and is also the calibre of player that the PGA Tour will find hard to ban as they have previously threatened to do.

Even if he is banned for life, perhaps Johnson, with his 2020 Masters win, has achieved what he wants to on the PGA Tour and is now happy to chase the money.

“Dustin’s been contemplating this for the past two years and decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it,” said his agent, David Winkle.

“He’s never had any issue with the PGA Tour and is grateful for all it’s given him but in the end felt this was too compelling to pass up.”

With $25 million on offer at each tournament, and the highest credentialed player in the field, the 37-year-old should be at or near the top of the leaderboard each week that he tees it up in the 54-hole, no-cut events.

And on top of the money available for each tournament, various reports indicate the signing bonuses are astronomical. According to the Telegraph’s James Corrigan and Tom Morgan, Johnson was paid approximately US$125 million to take part in the series

Even the amateurs have got in on the cash grab with Twitter user @acaseofthegolf1, who has a superb track record when it comes to inside news, tweeting that one of the amateurs in the field was offered $6 million up front and a guaranteed $250,000 per tournament.

One player missing from the announcement was Phil Mickelson. The 51-year-old has been absent from the PGA Tour for months now and was expected to play in London.

There’s still time, of course, with six more spots to be filled on Tuesday 6th June ahead of the inaugural tournament on Thursday.

Ironically, given Norman’s involvement, just four Australians are included in the field – Blake Windred, Jed Morgan, Matt Jones and Wade Ormsby.

Morgan, unlike Johnson is just beginning his professional journey, and is risking a ban from the PGA and DP World Tours before he even gets started. However, the Australian PGA champion, only has to win one tournament and the US$4 million prize money to earn what most pros spend a decade or two trying to achieve.

Curiously, Morgan is still listed in the field for this week’s Memorial Tournament along with Matt Jones.

Will it be the last time they get to play on the PGA Tour? We’ll find out soon enough.

LIV Golf Invitational London Field

  • Adrian Otaegui
  • Andy Ogletree
  • Bernd Wiesberger
  • Blake Windred
  • Branden Grace
  • Charles Schwartzel
  • Chase Koepka
  • David Puig
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Graeme McDowell
  • Hennie Du Plessis
  • Hideto Tanihara
  • Hudson Swafford
  • Ian Poulter
  • James Piot
  • JC Ritchie
  • Jediah Morgan
  • Jinichiro Kozuma
  • Justin Harding
  • Kevin Na
  • Laurie Canter
  • Lee Westwood
  • Louis Oosthuizen
  • Martin Kaymer
  • Matt Jones
  • Oliver Bekker
  • Oliver Fisher
  • Pablo Larrazabal
  • Peter Uihlein
  • Phachara Khongwatmai
  • Richard Bland
  • Ryosuke Kinoshita
  • Sadom Kaewkanjana
  • Sam Horsfield
  • Scott Vincent
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Shaun Norris
  • Sihwan Kim
  • Talor Gooch
  • TK Chantananuwat
  • Turk Pettit
  • Wade Ormsby