The Saudi golf invasion is actual.
After the Greg-Norman-led LIV Golf Invitational Collection, backed by a seemingly countless pool of cash from Saudi Arabia, revealed the gamers within the subject for the tour’s first occasion, to be performed subsequent week exterior of London, the PGA Tour is subsequent up on the tee.
A high-stakes sport of rooster, which for months has represented nothing greater than a variety of shadow boxing with the shortage of any big-name golfers dedicated to the brand new enterprise, took a extra critical flip with the revelation Tuesday that Dustin Johnson’s title is on that first subject listing.
That was, little question, jarring to the PGA Tour — not solely as a result of the 37-year-old Johnson is ranked thirteenth on this planet, has gained 24 instances on the PGA Tour (together with two main championships) and is without doubt one of the tour’s largest stars, but in addition as a result of Johnson, in February, publicly pledged his allegiance to the PGA Tour in favor of the LIV Golf sequence.
Apparently, nonetheless, that Saudi cash spoke to Johnson, who in keeping with a report by the UK outlet The Telegraph, was provided about $125 million to affix its sequence of occasions. Now that Johnson has reversed subject and brought the cash, it hardly appears out of the query others will observe.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, proper, talks with with Dustin Johnson throughout a pro-am on the RBC Heritage in April.Getty Pictures
Again in March, buoyed and emboldened by the general public allegiance to the PGA Tour from its high gamers (together with Johnson), commissioner Jay Monahan spoke confidently about his product and the self-discipline that might be levied on gamers who competed on the LIV tour, punishments that may very well be as harsh as a everlasting ban.
Whether or not or not Monahan and the PGA Tour have the authorized proper to regulate the place gamers, who consider they’re unbiased contractors, select to play is one other matter completely — one which certainly can be determined by a courtroom of legislation.
However Johnson has boldly pushed that envelope throughout the desk at Monahan, who issued an announcement, in response to the LIV subject announcement Tuesday, that didn’t say something that hadn’t been acknowledged earlier than.
Ian Poulter, proper, is without doubt one of the gamers dedicated to taking part in within the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf event later this month.Getty Pictures
There are lots of layers to this, not the least of which is how different organizations will react to gamers who take the Saudi cash.
Sponsors are already disassociating themselves from gamers who’ve dedicated to the primary LIV occasion. The Royal Financial institution of Canada, for which each Johnson and Graeme McDowell (additionally taking part in in subsequent week in London) have been ambassadors, on Wednesday severed ties with these gamers. There have been different circumstances as nicely, together with UPS dropping Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen, who each dedicated to the preliminary LIV occasion.
Fallout may additionally have an effect on the approaching Ryder Cup competitions as a result of a number of high-profile gamers who’re on the high of the listing as future captains for each the U.S. and Europe are taking part in within the LIV occasions: Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Westwood on the European aspect and presumably Phil Mickelson, anticipated by many within the golf world to be the subsequent splashy announcement by Norman, on the U.S. aspect.
What in regards to the governing our bodies for the foremost championships? Will they ban gamers from competing of their occasions ought to these gamers play within the LIV occasions?
For instance, Mickelson has gained the Masters 3 times and Johnson has gained it as soon as, which suggests each are eligible to play till they’re 60. Would Augusta Nationwide bar these gamers from returning in the event that they play within the Saudi occasions?
The PGA of America oversees each the PGA Championship and the U.S. Ryder Cup aspect. Its CEO, Seth Waugh, has been aligned with Monahan all through this course of, as has the European Tour. Would these governing our bodies ban gamers from their high occasions?
Rory McIlroy, a 20-time winner on the PGA Tour and a four-time main champion who’s a member of the PGA Tour’s Participant Advisory Council, stated he doesn’t consider the PGA Tour must “drop the hammer’’ in disciplining the gamers who’ve chosen to play within the London occasion.
“Look, they’re nicely inside their rights to implement the principles and laws which have been set,’’ McIlroy stated of the PGA Tour. “However … it’s going to finish up being an argument about what these guidelines and laws are. I’ve some very shut buddies which might be taking part in on this occasion in London and I actually wouldn’t need to stand of their approach for them to do what they really feel is true for themselves.’’
There can be many extra layers to peel again as this drama performs out. However this a lot is obvious: The Saudi golf factor is now actual, and it doesn’t seem like going away anytime quickly.