great champions Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed are planning to join the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational series in time for the rival circuit to begin play in US cities, a British newspaper reported Wednesday.
The Daily Telegraph says Greg Norman and his staff who run LIV Golf Investments plan to announce the final two defectors from the PGA Tour on Friday.
The inaugural LIV Golf Invitational at Centurion Golf Club, featuring Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia, kicks off Thursday.
DeChambeau was one of the first recruits in the Saudi league in January. That changed when Mickelson drew unwanted attention to the emerging league with interviews that discredited the PGA Tour and the Saudis who fund the LIV Golf Investments.
Johnson was the biggest name to announce his support for the PGA Tour in February, with DeChambeau following.
“While there has been a lot of speculation about my support for a new tour, I want to make it very clear that as long as the best players in the world play the PGA Tour, so will I,” DeChambeau said in a February statement. †
Asked about his interest at the Memorial last week, DeChambeau said, “I personally don’t think I’m in a place in my career at this point in my career where I can risk that sort of thing.”
“I’m loyal to my family that I’ve created around me with sponsors and stuff. And from now on the golf world will probably change somehow. I don’t know what that is. Not my job I’m just going to stay professional golf playing and enjoying it wherever it takes me, playing with the best players in the world.”
His agent said in a statement Wednesday that “Bryson has always been an innovator.”
“Having the chance to enter on the ground floor of something unique has always intrigued him. Professional golf as we know it is changing and it’s happening fast,” said Brett Falkoff of GSE Worldwide.
DeChambeau won the US Open at Winged Foot in 2020 at a time when he captivated golf with his out-of-the-box thinking that more speed and more power would change the game. He added 40 pounds of muscle and mass and his driver ball speed reached 200 mph. He also took part in long-haul exhibitions.
Reed won the 2018 Masters for his only major. In addition to being known for his guts and short game, in 2019 he was a major source of meddling in US galleries for removing sand from his golf ball in the Bahamas, a clear violation of the rules.
Players get huge signing bonuses for joining the Normandy league. The Telegraph reports that Johnson will receive $150 million even before competing for $25 million in funds at each of the eight LIV events on the schedule.
Mickelson was asked about reports that he was paid $200 million.
“I think contract agreements should be private,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to be the case, but it should be.”
The first U.S. event for the LIV series is the weekend before July 4 at Oregon’s Pumpkin Ridge. The PGA Tour did not release its players this week to compete outside of London, and some of them have canceled their membership.
Oregon is different in that the PGA Tour does not allow releases for tournaments held in North America. It is yet to be determined whether the players who take the Saudi money can return to the PGA Tour.
The US Open said on Tuesday it will honor players who qualified to compete at The Country Club outside of Boston next week, and the British Open is expected to do the same.
Reporting by the Associated Press.
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