Johnson among top players seeking Saudi start
It seems everywhere you turn these days, the Middle East is posturing itself as part of the future of world golf. They have the money and means but just need to convince the marquee players to show up.
Greg Norman’s appointment as CEO of a new Saudi golf venture last week could well prove to be a huge shark-shaped pain the side for the PGA and European Tours.
Johnson with his second Saudi Invitational trophy earlier this year (Credit: European Tour)
The oil-rich nations know they need to diversify in order to move their countries away from fossil fuel dependance and golf, along with other sports events, are an attractive option to improve their image on the world stage.
The PGA Tour has already made its position known when it comes to players taking part in the Saudi International, now that it is no longer part of the European Tour.
However, World No.2 Dustin Johnson is the defending champion, and the tournament now has a new home on the Asian Tour, so the problem becomes a little trickier for PGA Tour commissioner, Jay Monahan.
Does he give in and allow a major-winning former World No.1 star like Johnson and a handful of other players to take part in the event or stand his ground?
Outside of the political issues associated with the Saudi Kingdom, the tournament also directly conflicts with the flagship AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Johnson has won that title on two occasions and has missed playing the tournament just once in his entire career.
If it wasn’t for Johnson, Monahan would probably have knocked the idea on its head already but he’ll need to tread carefully around this issue to ensure Johnson and others in his class, don’t become disenchanted by the PGA Tour and start looking elsewhere.
Grab your popcorn…it’s going to get very interesting indeed.