LIV golf field revealed: Dustin Johnson shocks as Greg Norman plan exposed

The foundations of Greg Norman’s master plan have finally been revealed and the golf world was in shock over one detail in particular.

The golf world is in shock after it was revealed former world number one Dustin Johnson will head the field for the inaugural $AUD35 million LIV Golf Invitational Series event in England next week, the Saudi-backed golf circuit announced on Wednesday.

The American two-time major champion said in February he would stay with the US PGA Tour but in an apparent U-turn Johnson was one of two top-20 ranked players listed in the field on the LIV Golf website for the 54-hole tournament starting on June 9.

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Former British Open champion and world number 20 Louis Oosthuizen, former Masters champions Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia, plus former US Open champions Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer are also in the field.

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson’s name was absent.

Mickelson, who became golf’s oldest major champion when he won last year’s PGA at age 50, withdrew from defending his crown last month and hasn’t played since his controversial comments about LIV Golf and Saudi Arabia were made public in February.

The tournament at Centurion Club at St Albans, north of London, will have a purse of $35 million, almost double that of any major, with $5.5 million going to the winner.

There were 42 players listed in the 48-player field, with the field to be completed with players who qualify via an Asian Tour-sanctioned International Series tournament beginning on Thursday in London.

Former world number one Lee Westwood and Ryder Cup stalwart Ian Poulter have also signed up for the event.

Golf world shocked over Johnson’s inclusion

Johnson’s agent David Wrinkle issued a statement about his client’s decision to play in the LIV event, which is being spearheaded by Greg Norman.

The Aussie golf legend has hinted previously there would be some big names to join his venture, despite public skepticism about who would choose him over the PGA.

“Dustin has been contemplating the opportunity off-and-on for the past couple of years. Ultimately, he decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it,” Wrinkle said.

“Dustin has never had any issue with the PGA Tour and is grateful for all it has given him, but in the end, felt this was too compelling to pass up.”

Johnson is skipping the RBC Canadian Open to compete in Norman’s pet project, despite being an ambassador for the tournament, and social media went into meltdown over the big reveal.

Mark Harris tweeted: “Nobody expected to see Dustin Johnson’s name in the field for the first LIV Golf event.”

Cameron Hardin wrote: “Dustin Johnson?! What!”

Former sports reporter Craig Choate said: “What is Dustin Johnson doing??”

Sports writer Cole Shelton added: “Dustin Johnson being a part of this is a massive surprise given RBC is a big sponsor of his and he’s missing the Canadian Open for this event.”

The RBC released a statement soon after the news about Johnson and Co. was announced, saying: “RBC is a proud partner of the PGA Tour. Our partnership is anchored with two world-class golf tournaments – the RBC Heritage and the RBC Canadian Open.

“The PGA Tour has been clear about its intentions in accordance with its tournament regulations should a golfer choose to play in a tournament outside the tour, including the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

“We were recently made aware that Dustin Johnson made the decision to play the Liv Golf Invitational Series opener.

“Dustin Johnson has been a valued RBC team member since 2018. While we are extremely disappointed in his decisions, we wish him well.”

The playing field reveal comes after Jack Nicklaus pledged his allegiance to the PGA Tour on Tuesday, saying no amount of money could have tempted him to take on a leadership role with a new Saudi-backed golf series.

The 82-year-old golfing icon revealed earlier this month he had turned down an offer worth more than $140 million to act as one of the faces of the LIV Golf International Series.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday ahead of the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament, Nicklaus said he had met with the organizers of the Saudi-funded circuit out of courtesy as he was designing a golf course for them.

But Nicklaus emphasized that taking on a role with the upstart tour was never an option.

“I did it out of courtesy to them because we’re doing a golf course for them,” Nicklaus told reporters.

“I’ve got zero interest in wanting to do something like that. I don’t care what kind of money they would have thrown at me.

“My allegiance has been to the PGA Tour. I grew up on the PGA Tour. I helped found the PGA Tour as it is today.

“My allegiance is there, and it’s going to stay there.”

The emergence of LIV Golf has dominated the sport this season, with Mickelson triggering uproar after remarks in which referred to the venture’s Saudi backers as “scary” with a “horrible record on human rights”.

Mickelson has not played since the comments, and was not included in the field for next week’s inaugural LIV Series event in the UK.

Nicklaus meanwhile sidestepped a question about whether players who opted to join LIV Golf might not receive invites to play at his Memorial tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

“The PGA TOUR will answer that,” Nicklaus said. “I don’t think that’s my question, frankly. We live by the rules of whatever the PGA TOUR is. That’s what we do.”

With AFP

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