COLUMBUS, Ohio — More than a dozen PGA Tour players, including two-time major champion Dustin Johnson, are included in the field for the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event, to be played next month outside of London.
The list of 42 players on the course was published by LIV Golf on Tuesday evening. It also includes longtime PGA Tour players Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood.
Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson was not on the roster released on Tuesday.
LIV Golf previously said its events will feature 48 players competing in 12 four-man teams. The final six spots will be filled by players invited by CEO Greg Norman and qualifiers from an Asian Tour event, LIV Golf said in a statement.
Mickelson – who skipped the Masters and PGA Championship, an event he won last year – was among the players who requested a release from the PGA Tour to play in the first LIV Golf event, which is scheduled for 9-11 June at the Centurion Golf Club outside London. Mickelson hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines in late January.
Among other PGA Tour players who will challenge the PGA Tour by participating in the LIV Golf Invitational Series – led by Norman, two-time Open winner and former No. 1 player, and funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund Arabia — are Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford. Brooks Koepka’s brother, Chase, is also among the LIV attendees.
The field also includes former Clemson star Turk Pettit, the 2021 NCAA individual champion, and former Michigan State star James Piot, who won the 2021 US Amateur.
Johnson, whose 24 PGA Tour victories include wins at the 2016 US Open and 2020 Masters, was the biggest surprise in the LIV realm. On February 20, shortly after Mickelson’s controversial comments about the PGA Tour’s “abhorrent greed” and the Saudi monarchy caused a firestorm, Johnson released a statement in which he said he was engaged in the PGA Tour.
“I think now is the time to put that speculation to rest. I am fully committed to the PGA Tour,” Johnson said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to play on the best tour in the world and for everything it has given me and my family.”
His agent, David Winkle, released a statement on Tuesday.
“Dustin has considered the opportunity from time to time for the past two years,” Winkle wrote. “Ultimately, he decided it was in his best interests and that of his family to pursue him. Dustin has never had a problem with the PGA Tour and is grateful for everything he has given him, but in the end he felt it was too convincing to pass on top.”
Norman said in a statement that “free agency has finally arrived in golf.”
“This is an opportunity to launch a movement that will change the course of history by bringing new and open competition to the sport we all love. The players’ desire to participate in LIV Golf demonstrates their adamant belief in our role model and their confidence in what we are building for the future,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with the diversity of our field, with players from all over the world, including major champions and those making their debut with us competing in their first professional event.”
However, the initial LIV field is not as strong as Norman and his team had envisioned. Several top PGA Tour players, including Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau, have already pledged their loyalty to the tour.
“I came out of the US PGA (Championship) and I literally don’t care what I won that week,” England’s Matt Fitzpatrick said on Tuesday. “I was just disgusted that I didn’t win. I had a chance and I didn’t take it, and that told me a lot about myself that’s all that bothers me here.
“You want to have records, I want to win tournaments, and for me, that’s why, for the moment, the kind of LIV Golf does not interest me. In five years, if all of a sudden that becomes the main round so obviously you kind of rethink your options but right now I want to make sure that I give myself the best chance of winning tournaments, winning majors and continuing my career as that.
On May 10, the PGA Tour refused exits from conflicting events allowing its players to participate in the London event, which coincides with the Canadian Open in Ontario that week. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan told players they would face disciplinary action, including potential suspensions and/or lifetime bans, for participating on the breakaway tour.
“We have notified those who applied that their application has been declined in accordance with PGA Tour Tournament Rules,” the PGA Tour said in a note to its players. “As such, Tour members are not permitted to participate in the Saudi Golf League London event under our regulations. As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players.”
Norman called the PGA Tour’s decision not to release its players “anti-golfer, anti-fan and anti-competitive.”
The DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, also denied releases to its players.
Norman argued that professional golfers are independent contractors and should be allowed to play wherever they want. He said his legal team is prepared to challenge the PGA Tour’s position in court, if necessary.
“Unfortunately, the PGA Tour appears intent on depriving professional golfers of their right to play golf unless it is exclusively in a PGA Tour tournament,” Norman said in a statement. “But whatever obstacles the PGA Tour throws our way, we will not be stopped. We will continue to provide players with options that promote the great game of golf on a global scale.”
The eight-event LIV series will include five tournaments played in the United States. It will include seven regular season events and a tag team championship final at the Trump Doral in Miami from October 28-30. The second LIV event is scheduled for July 1-3 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Oregon.
The LIV Golf Invitational series will consist of 54-hole events, with no cuts and shotgun tee times “to ensure a faster and more exciting pace.” There will be a maximum of 48 players on 12 four-man teams at each event, and rosters will be determined by a draft the week of the tournament.
The total prize money for the eight events will be $255 million, according to LIV Golf Investments, and the seven regular season tournaments will have total purses of $25 million, which would be the richest in professional golf, with $20 million. dollars in individual prizes and $5. million for the top three teams. The top three individuals after the seven regular season events will also split a $30 million bonus.
The season-ending Tag Team Championship will provide an additional $50 million in prize money.