Dustin Johnson’s flip was very expensive.
The Telegraph in the UK reports that LIV Golf, the Saudi government-backed upstart golf league run by Greg Norman that is looking to disrupt the PGA Tour, has paid Johnson “around” £100m – or around £125m. million dollars – to join their series.
Big money is certainly at stake. Golf legend Jack Nicklaus recently said he was offered “over $100 million” to lead the league. That role eventually went to Norman.
RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), one of Johnson’s main sponsors, cut ties with the golfer and announced that he was “very disappointed” with his decision to play on the tour.
“RBC is a proud partner of the PGA Tour. Our partnership is anchored in two world-class golf tournaments, the RBC Heritage and the RBC Canadian Open,” the bank said in a statement. “The PGA Tour has been clear on its intentions under its tournament rules if a golfer chooses to play in an off-tour tournament, including the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
“We were recently informed that Dustin Johnson has made the decision to play Game 1 of the LIV Golf Invitational Series. DJ has been a valued member of the RBC team since 2018. While we are extremely disappointed with his decision, we wish him well.
Johnson, 37, married to Paulina Gretzky, won the 2016 US Open and the 2020 Masters.
Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Kevin Na, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, Graeme McDowell and Talor Gooch are among the other golfers at the Saudi Golf League June event outside London.
Phil Mickelson caused a major outcry earlier this year when he downplayed the human rights concerns associated with competing in the league.
“They’re scary motherfuckers to get involved with,” Mickelson told his biographer Alan Shipnuck in February. “We know they killed [Washington Post reporter Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible human rights record. They execute people there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because it’s a unique opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour works.
Mickelson, who also ripped into the PGA Tour’s “abhorrent greed” over the amount of money not being distributed to golfers, faced what amounted to a months-long phantom ban from the PGA Tour after the remarks.
Wednesday, the PGA Tour released a statement claiming that the members were “not allowed to participate” in the Saudi Golf League event and are subject to so far unspecified “disciplinary measures”.