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Speculation surrounding Bryson DeChambeau’s almost imminent signing to the rumoured Saudi-backed Super League (Update: $250m Saudi League launched) continues to grow. Recent reports revealed that he had told fellow PGA Tour players at the Saudi International that he would no longer compete on the PGA Tour, only to backtrack once those reports were made public, citing them “Completely inaccurate”.
DeChambeau, who will not compete this week at the Genesis Invitational due to a hip and wrist injury, is again thrust into the Saudi limelight with legendary golf coach, Jim McClean, reporting that, “Source is saying Bryson DeChambeau is moving to the Saudi Golf League”. DeChambeau is yet to respond to the recent revelations.
DeChambeau and Mickelson have long been linked to the rumoured Super League, with reports of DeChambeau being offered upward of $200m to be its ‘poster boy’ and Mickelson publicly confirming a direct approach from the Saudis. According to PGA Tour pro, Kramer Hickok, 17 PGA Tour players had signed on the dotted line to join the league.
McClean, who has taught Major champions in the likes of Tom Kite, Lexi Thompson, Christie Kerr, Keegan Bradley and Gary Woodland, added, “It should allow him to play the Masters, US Open and British Open. Lots of rumors on Mickelson going, as well. If true, sparks will be flying”.
In response to the rumoured Saudi-backed Super League, the PGA Tour has threatened to impose lifetime bans for any member that leaves for the rival league. Reports suggest Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson had been informed of that and face a Ryder Cup captaincy dilemma. As members of the PGA Tour, all must abide by its Player Handbook and Code of Ethics. The players acknowledge that the PGA Tour Commissioner has the authority to impose bans should they violate its rules. At present, it’s unknown if leaving to join a rival league would be considered a violation.
Whilst it remains uncertain as to whether a lifetime ban could be imposed, it doesn’t mean it will be free from challenge. The PGA Tour does not govern the Major championships in the same way it does ‘regular’ PGA Tour events and there are a number of exemptions that have already been earned. Phil Mickelson’s victory at the 2021 PGA Championship earned him lifetime exemption to the tournament, alongside a five-year exemption into the US Open. His Masters victory, last in 2010, gave him lifetime exemption into the tournament and his Open Championship win in 2013 gives him exemption until he is 60 – Nearly a decade from now. With victory at the 2020 US Open, DeChambeau is exempt for 10 years and awards him entry into the Masters, Open Championship and PGA Championship for five years. At this moment in time, it is unknown how the Official World Golf Ranking would recognise the rumoured Saudi-backed Super League. As it stands, the rankings are a key determinator to many of the world’s leading events.
Whilst DeChambeau and Mickelson are seemingly moving closer to the rumoured Super League, the likes of Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, and Collin Morikawa have publicly backed the PGA Tour. Speaking ahead of the Genesis Invitational this week, Morikawa said, “The PGA Tour is where I belong”.
James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.
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