Report: Dustin Johnson Offered $125m To Join Saudi-Backed LIV Series

The World No.13 is reportedly earning a huge sum for joining the new competition

Dustin Johnson plays a practice round before the 2022 PGA Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The news that Dustin Johnson will be headlining the first event of the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series has shocked many in the golf world, particularly as he’d pledged his allegiance to the PGA Tour as recently as February.

However, according to a report from The Telegraph’s Golf correspondent, James Corrigan (opens in new tab), an eye-watering figure of around $125m (£100m) has been enough to instigate a change of heart in the World No.13, who will now tee it up at London’s Centurion Club on 9 June with the likes of Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Pouter.

The LIV Golf Invitational Series field had originally been expected to be revealed last Friday. However, that was delayed, apparently until LIV CEO Greg Norman, who is a close friend of Johnson, could strike a deal to persuade a marquee name to sign up. Initially, that big-name player was thought to be six-time Major winner Phil Mickelson. However, according to the report, the 51-year-old suggested he was taking too much heat. As a result, much of that pressure will now fall on former World No.1 Johnson, who is likely to lose sponsorship deals due to his controversial decision.

Nevertheless, the vast fee he is reportedly receiving – which apparently could reach to around $150m (£119m)  – will comfortably offset any financial penalties that come his way due to the move. However, one of the first sponsors to waver in its association with the American could be the Royal Bank of Canada. Johnson had been scheduled to appear in the RBC Canadian Open next week and has an endorsement deal with the bank as one of its ambassadors. 

Now, the bank has released a statement in the wake of the news expressing its disappointment at Johnson’s decision. It read: “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.”

If Johnson does lose his deal with RBC, it will follow similar fates inflicted on Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen, who will also tee it up next week and have lost their UPS deals because of their links to the Saudi-backed series. Then, of course, there is Mickelson, whose controversial comments on both the series and the PGA Tour saw him lose several sponsors earlier in the year.

Five of the remaining six slots in the 48-man field are up for grabs in this week’s International Series, leaving one to fill, which could go to Mickelson. But, as we await news on that, Johnson is undoubtedly the stellar name Norman had been hoping to get on board for the series – something the organisation he fronts was clearly willing to pay handsomely for.

 

Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.