Among the 42 players announced on Tuesday as part of the Saudi Golf League's inaugural event, the biggest surprise of the bunch was undoubtedly superstar Dustin Johnson. The LIV Golf Invitational Series is set to host its debut tournament at Centurion Club outside London from June 9-11, which also happens to coincide with the PGA Tour's RBC Canadian Open.
While many golf fans were left baffled by Johnson's decision to join the breakaway tour, perhaps the recent contract agreement between the two sides will shed some light on the matter.
According to a report from The Telegraph in London, LIV Golf paid Johnson "around" $125 million to join their eight-event series. Somewhere right now, Paulina is smiling ear-to-ear while looking at her checking account.
Due to Johnson's commitment to the LIV Golf Invitational Series, the two-time major winner (along with Graeme McDowell) lost his sponsorship with RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) on Wednesday.
"We were recently made aware that Dustin Johnson made the decision to play the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener. DJ has been a valued RBC team member since 2018. While we are extremely disappointed in his decision, we wish him well."
RBC signed Johnson to a sponsorship deal back in 2018 when he was the No. 1 ranked player in the world.
“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 bank said in a statement. “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.
Johnson, the winner of the 2016 U.S. Open and 2020 Masters, had previously pledged his commitment to the PGA Tour in a statement released in February.
"I feel it is now time to put such speculation to rest. I am fully committed to the PGA Tour. I am grateful for the opportunity to play on the best tour in the world and for all it has provided me and my family."
It's funny how $125 million can change someone's mind so fast, isn't it?
With Johnson now officially a member of the LIV Golf Series, the PGA Tour will likely strike down with a punishment of their own in the coming weeks. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has warned players about potential suspensions or even permanent bans for taking part in the Saudi-backed events.
In addition to Johnson, other PGA Tour notables such as Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na, Talor Gooch, Ian Poulter, and Lee Westwood were announced as part of the field for LIV's debut event as well.
The 2022 U.S. Open is also right around the corner, with the tournament set to take place from June 16-19 at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. The United States Golf Association (USGA) will be forced to make a quick decision as to whether or not those playing in LIV's inaugural tournament can participate in the year's third major championship.