Dustin Johnson signs on for new Saudi-backed golf tour tournament as four more Aussies also take cash grab
- US star Dustin Johnson will tee off in controversial Saudi-backed golf league
- Play across three days is from June 9 at Centurion Golf Club, outside London
- Tour veterans Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter will also take part
- Greg Norman has recruited Aussies such as Matt Jones and Blake Windred
- World’s top 10 players have ignored the huge money on offer, loyal to PGA tour
Australian sporting great Greg Norman has pulled off a major coup by signing former world No.1 Dustin Johnson to his Saudi-backed rebel golf league.
Johnson, 37, who won The Masters 18 months ago, is the biggest drawcard ahead of the inaugural tournament of the Super Golf League from June 9 at the Centurion Golf Club outside London.
Two-time Australian Open champion Matt Jones has also agreed to join the tour -bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund – alongside fellow Aussies Wade Ormsby, Jed Morgan and Blake Windred.
With even the last-placed finisher guaranteed to take home almost $170,000 in prizemoney at Centurion, many of the world’s top golfers have understandably jumped ship to the new tour and abandoned the U.S.-based PGA Tour.
Veterans such Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthiuzen, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter will also tee off at Centurion for the 54-hole event.
Australian sporting great Greg Norman has secured the services of former world number one Dustin Johnson (pictured) for his Saudi-backed rebel golf league
Norman has attracted plenty of criticism as CEO of LIV Golf, with a host of critics slamming the mega-rich series
None of the current top 10 players in the world have been lured to the new tour, but the field will have 26 of the current top 150 players.
Two-time major champion Johnson, who in February said he was ‘fully committed’ to the PGA Tour, ultimately decided the riches on offer were too good to pass up.
‘Dustin’s been contemplating this for the past two years and decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it,’ his agent David Winkle told the Golf Channel.
‘He’s never had any issue with the PGA Tour and is grateful for all it’s given him but in the end felt this was too compelling to pass up.’
Norman said Johnson’s defection and that of other high-profile stars indicated they had ’emphatic belief in our model and confidence in what we’re building for the future’.
‘Free agency has finally come to golf,’ Norman said in a statement.
‘This is an opportunity to start a movement that will change the course of history by bringing new and open competition to the sport we all love.’
The world’s top 10 ranked golfers – including Australia’s Cameron Smith – have all turned their back on the mega money up for grabs, believed to be $255 million for the tour’s eight-tournament card for 2022.
Norman has come in for strong criticism as CEO of the new tour’s promotional company LIV Golf, with critics slamming the mega-rich series as a means of ‘sports washing’ for Saudi Arabia’s bad human rights record.
The field for London also features three amateurs – 15-year-old Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat of Thailand, Spain’s David Puig and 2021 US Amateur champion James Piot – along with Brooks Koepka’s brother, Chase Koepka.