The ordago is very serious. The rebels of the Saudi golf league leave the American circuit. Dustin Johnson, Sergio García and Phil Mickelson, stars enrolled in the first tournament of the LIV Golf circuit, fattened with petrodollars and which takes place between this Thursday and Saturday at the Centurion Club in London, have found the door on the PGA Tour . Faced with the threat of sanctions for competing in an appointment for which they have not received permission from the American circuit, the three figures, in addition to other golfers such as Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, have chosen to cut their losses. full divorce. Johnson confirmed this Tuesday in London his resignation from the PGA Tour card, of which he has been a part since 2008, the same thorny path that García and Mickelson have taken. The frightened supposes that the three will play the eight tournaments that make up this first edition of the LIV Golf circuit, in addition to the big four, for now unrelated to the war because they are under the umbrella of different organizations: Augusta National (the Masters), the PGA of America (PGA Championship), the USGA (US Open) and Royal and Ancient (British Open).
“Right now it’s hard to talk about what the consequences will be, but for now I have relinquished my membership on the PGA Tour. For now I’m going to play here [en el LIV Golf]That’s the plan,” Johnson said Tuesday in London. “On what the consequences will be, I can’t comment on how the Tour is going to handle it, I can’t vouch for them. Obviously I’m exempt for the big ones, so I plan on playing them unless they say otherwise.” The American circuit can expel the fugitives of their tournaments, but not of the majors despite the fact that he has pressured the organizers of the four Grand Slam events to sanction the insurgents with expulsion. The war is now being waged in offices with hundreds of millions at the heart of the conflict. Each tournament of the new Saudi league distributes 25 million dollars among the 48 participating players, the winner pockets four million and the last classified, 120,000 dollars. These are amounts that far exceed the prizes on the PGA Tour and in the big ones. The most succulent tournament on the circuit is The Players, with 3.6 million for the champion. The Masters of Augusta and the Championship of the PGA enter 2.7 million in the bank account of the winner; 2.2 million US Open (the next edition is held next week in Boston, without the injured Tiger Woods); and 2.07 will win whoever lifts the jar at the British Open in July at Saint Andrews.
Dustin Johnson, 37 years old and current number 15 in the world, has won two majors (2016 US Open and 2020 Masters) and has amassed 74 million dollars in prize money on the American circuit alone. Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf, put another 125 million on the table to consummate his betrayal. Sergio García, 42 years old, number 57 in the world, green jacket in 2017, has collected 54 million. A month ago his intentions already advanced when at Wells Fargo he publicly charged against the referees for a decision: “I can’t wait to leave this circuit! I can’t wait to go. Just a couple more weeks and I won’t have to deal with you guys anymore.” The triumvirate of stars bought by the Saudi millionaire has been completed by Mickelson, six greats behind him, who at 51 years of age was separated from the American circuit due to his controversial support for the nouveau riche. The Augusta Masters already invited him not to go there last April.
The consequences of desertion are still unpredictable. Kevin Na opened the crack last week and the dissidents have crossed a line that will hardly be reversed. Off the PGA Tour, Dustin Johnson is no longer an eligible player with the US Ryder Cup team (USA vs. Europe), whose next edition will be held in 2023 in Rome, just like the Presidents Cup (USA vs. non-Europeans) . The PGA of America can’t play their card. The contest in the big four, meanwhile, has it insured for the coming years. Winning the 2020 Masters gave him the ability to compete at Augusta forever, plus a five-year exemption from the British Open and PGA Championship, and the US Open is guaranteed until 2026 after his conquest six courses ago. Although the source can dry up. The LIV Golf does not count, at the moment, for the score ordered by the world golf ranking, a list that gives access to participate in the Grand Slam to those who do not have extra permits. It may be the case of Sergio García, for example, although the man from Castellón is also a lifelong guest at Augusta. The Spaniard, on the other hand, hopes to maintain his presence in the Ryder through an agreement with the European circuit, with which the tension is lower compared to the American. Garcia has won the Ryder six times and is the leading scorer (28.5 points) and golfer with the most wins in his games (25) in the history of the competition.
“It has been a difficult decision knowing that I cannot go to the Ryder, but I hope that things change and I can participate,” said Johnson, six times in the American team, on Tuesday. “It was another thing I had to think about a lot. The Ryder is incredible, it has meant a lot to me, I am proud to have represented my country and I want to do it again, but I don’t make the rules”, added the former world number one (135 weeks on the throne), owner of 24 wins on the PGA Tour; “I was excited about the new format, it’s great for the fans and it’s going to be very exciting.” The 48 players per tournament are divided into 12 teams of four golfers (there is also an individual version), in three rounds instead of four, with no cut and with the entire squad starting at the same time, with the same weather and state conditions of the field. players and caddies they will carry microphones during the rounds.
Saudi money has tipped the balance on which Johnson weighed his priorities. In February, in a statement issued precisely by the PGA Tour (the golfer’s Twitter account is @DJohnsonPGA), the former number one commented: “It is time to end the speculation. I am fully committed to the PGA Tour.” About that swerve he had to give explanations this Tuesday in London: “Many things have changed in recent months. I’m so thankful to the PGA Tour and everything they’ve done for me, I’ve done pretty well there for the last 15 years, but this is something I thought was best for me and my family, and I’m really excited to play. It is something new and great. I don’t want to play golf for the rest of my life and this gives me the opportunity to spend more time with my family and doing things that I like”.
Saudi league rebels cling to legal battle. Golfers have the possibility of a one-year exemption on the American circuit that would allow them to later keep the card, but the PGA Tour will hardly accept the participation of some of its stars in a Saudi league that competes with them as a reason to grant them a sabbatical course. The war continues.