Dustin Johnson Resigns from PGA Tour and Communications to Rival LIV Golf

Dustin Johnson, a two-time major golf champion, surrendered his PGA Tour status on Tuesday and said that for the immediate future he planned to play only major tournaments and events sponsored by the Saudi-backed LIV golf circuit.

Appearing at a news conference in advance of the first eight LIV golf events in 2022 that will begin Thursday on the outside of the Centurion Club in London, Johnson also used terms like “right now” and “for now” when describing his decision to bolt from. the PGA Tour.

“For right now, I’ve resigned my membership on the tour,” said Johnson, who joined the PGA Tour in 2008 and is ranked 15th in the world. He added that he would play the LIV tour, “for now, that ‘s the plan.”

The breakaway tour headlined by Greg Norman has promised hefty appearance fees and a format that guarantees every entrant six-figure payouts, with 48 players competing for $ 25 million in prize money in a 54-hole format with no cut. A report last week in The Telegraph said Johnson was paid $ 125 million to join LIV Golf, whose major shareholder is the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund worth more than $ 600 billion.

Johnson’s PGA Tour resignation could help him avoid a suspension or a lifetime ban from the Tour’s Commissioner, Jay Monahan, who indicated that punishment was a possibility at that level. But so far, the United States-based PGA Tour has kept quiet as Johnson and others, such as Phil Mickelson, the six-time major champion who has earned more than $ 94 million at tour events, have signed that they will play in this week’s LIV Golf tournament. Monahan’s lack of response may be just a bit of institutional timing. PGA Tour players are not in violation of any of the tour’s rules unless they actually play in a rival event without permission – and the tour has not granted its consent for any players requesting play this week in England.

One thing is certain: Under current guidelines, if Johnson is not a member of the PGA Tour, he cannot play in the biennial Ryder Cup, a ballyhooed competition between top golfers from the United States and Europe with history that dates to 1927. Johnson He has played in the Ryder Cup five times, including last year when he was undefeated in five matches and helped lead the United States to a dominating victory.

But on Tuesday, at least in his mind, the door was still open to play in the upcoming Ryder Cups.

“Obviously all things are subject to change,” Johnson said. “Hopefully at some point, it will change and I will be able to make. If it doesn’t, well, it was another thing I really had to think about long and hard. Ultimately, I decided to come to this and play out here.

“The Ryder Cup is unbelievable and something that definitely meant a lot to me. I’m proud to say I’ve represented my country, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that again. But I don’t make the rules. “

Johnson’s eligibility for major golf championships is not a surety, though there has been no indication that he will be barred from playing in next week’s US Open. He qualifies for a spot in the field in multiple ways, not the least of which is that he won the championship in 2016. He is also qualified for next month’s British Open because of his 2020 Masters victory. The Masters title would normally make him welcome at the Masters for many years to come, as well as a fourth major, the PGA Championship, for the next five years.

But the Masters is run by Augusta National Golf Club, which has proven in the past that it will make decisions independently. The PGA Championship is governed by the PGA of America. Before that event was held last month, the organization’s chief executive, Seth Waugh, pledged his loyalty to the established PGA Tour, which he referred to as part of golf’s existing ecosystem.

“Our bylaws do say that you have to be a recognized member of a recognized tour in order to be a PGA member somewhere, and therefore not eligible to play,” said Waugh, speaking of the PGA Championship.

Asked about the alternative LIV Golf tour, Waugh replied: “We think of the structure – I don’t know if it’s a league, it’s not a league at this point – but the league structure is slightly flawed.”

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