Ugly new Dustin Johnson fallout amid $3 billion golfing war

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Pictured left to right, American golfer Dustin Johnson and Aussie legend Greg Norman.
Dustin Johnson is the most high-profile star to have joined Greg Norman's LIV series. Pic: Getty

Former World No.1 Dustin Johnson has been dumped by one of his sponsors after his decision to turn his back on the PGA Tour and join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Johnson shocked the golfing world this week after it was revealed he would be among a handful of top players joining the controversial breakaway competition, headed up by Aussie legend Greg Norman.

'SO CRUEL': Golf world gutted for star amid PGA Championship 'disaster'

'PAINFUL TO WATCH': Tiger Woods in shocking PGA Championship first

The Saudi Arabian-backed LIV series has been heavily criticised as an attempt by the nation to detract from longstanding accusations of human rights abuses.

Norman - who has reportedly been given a $3 billion war chest - has been heavily involved in the formation of the series, which has attracted four Australian entrants for the first event in England next week - Matt Jones, Wade Ormsby, Blake Windred and Jed Morgan.

The mega-rich series boasts a massive $35 million prize pool, with the winner getting $5.5 million of the total winnings - adding up to more than double that on offer for the richest major.

Johnson represents the biggest draw the LIV Invitational has been able to attract to date, as debate rages over the merits over the controversial but lucrative series.

The American's agent, David Winkle, told Golf Channel it was too big of an opportunity for the golfer 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 said.

"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."

The first LIV Golf event at Centurion near London - where $US25 million ($A35m) in prize money is up for grabs, including $US4m ($A5.6m) for the winner - is running at the same time as the PGA Tour's Canadian Open where the winner will get $US1.57m ($A2.18m) from an $US8.7m ($A12.1m) purse.

One of the major sponsors for that PGA Tour event is the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), which announced it was cutting its sponsorship deal with Johnson and Graeme McDowell, in response to their defection to the Saudi-backed series.

“As a result of the decisions made by professional golfers Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell to play the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener, RBC is terminating its sponsorship agreement with both players,” said RBC spokeswoman Elynn Wareham in a statement Wednesday.

“We wish them well in their future endeavours.”

Seen here, American Dustin Johnson playing his shot from the 17th tee during the second round of the 2022 PGA Championship.
American Dustin Johnson plays his shot from the 17th tee during the second round of the 2022 PGA Championship. Pic: Getty

PGA Tour defectors warned over future sanctions

The RBC said it was “extremely disappointed” by Johnson's decision and added that it was a “proud partner” of the PGA Tour.

As well as the sponsorship fallout, Johnson and his fellow defectors look set to face sanction from the PGA Tour after being warned their actions will be "subject to disciplinary action".

The PGA Tour has already declined requests from members who had asked for releases to compete at Centurion, and while the US-based circuit did not disclose what disciplinary action could be taken, it remained firm in its stance.

"As communicated to our entire membership on May 10, PGA Tour members have not been authorised to participate in the Saudi Golf League's London event, under PGA Tour Tournament Regulations," the PGA Tour said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Members who violate the Tournament Regulations are subject to disciplinary action."

LIV Golf chief executive Norman said last month during a media event at Centurion that the startup league would reimburse players who are fined and has legal injunctions ready to go if any are sanctioned or banned by the PGA Tour.

"If you so choose to want, as an independent contractor, to come and play with us, we've got your back," former world No.1 Norman said last month during a media event at Centurion.

"I'll break it down to three very simple things: we'll defend, we'll reimburse, and we'll represent."

with agencies

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting