Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson haven’t had a crooked arm in turning their backs on the PGA in favor of the new LIV Golf series. Basically why? For the dollars. Where they are counted by hundreds of millions.
Posted at 6:00 am
Until very recently, the PGA Tour had a monopoly on golf not only in the United States, but also everywhere on the surface of the globe.
It was true until a group of Saudi investors decided to stir the cage. Truth be told, they chose to take what the PGA Tour has best to offer: its players.
The first tournament of the LIV Golf series takes place this weekend in London. Johnson and Mickelson are going to be the most popular and controversial names to start with.
a question of money
The LIV Golf series scared very few people a few months ago. Nobody believed that a new circuit, with new regulations and that dared to challenge the PGA Tour, was going to be able to attract big names. However, things changed quickly. The big money beat out several players who were tempted.
When former world number one and 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson announced that he was going to be a part of the Saudi adventure, the golf world was rocked.
According to various sources, he would have signed an agreement of approximately 150 million dollars, fully guaranteed, and this, even before having hit a single ball. Meanwhile, Mickelson is expected to receive nearly $200 million. Except that although the columns of the temple shook, it did not collapse.
“There are golfers who only move for money and there are others, more purists, passionate about the history of the PGA Tour, like Tiger [Woods] or Rory [McIlroy]. Whereas Phil Mickelson or Dustin Johnson, they do it for the money”, explains Yohann Benson, professional at Le Mirage golf club and RDS analyst.
McIlroy and Woods have also turned down nine-figure offers out of loyalty to the PGA Tour.
“Dustin Johnson is not a player who hangs out with other guys. He does his little business with his wife Paulina and his family. He is more of a loner,” he adds.
His colleague Jean-Sébastien Légaré, an analyst for RDS and 91.9 Sports, agrees: “I’m not surprised that Dustin made this decision, not because he’s a bad guy, but because he always preferred to take care of himself first.” »
He doesn’t care what others think.
Jean-Sébastien Légaré, RDS and 91.9 Sports analyst, on Dustin Johnson
On the other hand, the Royal Bank of Canada, which sponsored Johnson for nearly 15 years, severed its association with its former glory. The first tournament of the LIV Golf Series will take place at the same time as the RBC Canadian Open. As an RBC athlete, Johnson would have been forced to participate, which of course he won’t. That is why the Bank has definitively cut ties with him.
Johnson’s OEM, TaylorMade, joined Pressbut would not comment on the situation.
Other players who have had great careers have formalized their membership on the new circuit, including Louis Ooosthuizen, Lee Westwood, Kevin Poulter and Sergio Garcia. Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed would make the announcement soon, according to the daily telegraph.
However, the first observation remains that the caliber is low and that for most of the players on the list, the best is behind them.
The PGA in danger?
The LIV Golf Series has eight tournaments scheduled. “We talked about the event in London, but there are five of the eight events that are in the United States. When it comes to the United States, will more players want to participate? asks Jean-Sébastien Légaré.
The grants are also likely to sway players who have been reluctant so far.
Twenty million dollars will be distributed in each tournament. The winner will pocket 4 million and the last in the classification will receive $120,000. Not to mention the participation bonuses for star players and bonuses of $18 million, $8 million and $4 million for those who finish the season on the podium of the general classification.
Dizzying sums that could scare the PGA: “It’s like when you go to court and you’re against an opponent who has a lot of money and money is not an issue, that sure has to be taken seriously,” emphasizes Yohann Benson.
The circuit led by former star Greg Norman has 48 players and each tournament is played over three rounds, with no cuts, so all players are guaranteed payout. The tees are made in the form of a “shotgun”, that is, there will be tees at each hole to speed up the game.
The PGA Tour and its commissioner Jay Monahan have not yet reacted. There are rumors that players participating in the Saudi circuit could be banned, suspended or banned for life. A risk that compensates, from all points of view, for some golfers.