Two-Time Champion Dustin Johnson Out Of Saudi International

Former winner Dustin Johnson is forced to withdraw from the Saudi International after tweaking his back

Dustin Johnson with the 2021 Saudi International trophy
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dustin Johnson will be unable to go for a third victory in the Saudi International after making a late withdrawal due to a back injury.

Johnson, who won the Saudi International in 2019 and 2021, has struggled with back problems before, most notably when having to pull out of the 2017 Masters. 

Johnson is now said to have tweaked his back again ahead of the Asian Tour event at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, which is sponsored by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) – the same organization that bankrolls LIV Golf

All 48 players who competed in LIV Golf's season-closing Team Championship in 2022 entered the Saudi International, which will now be down to 47 with Johnson's withdrawal.

Although the two-time champion is missing, there are still plenty of big names involved in the fifth edition of the event being held near Jeddah thanks to the LIV Golf group.

Defending champion Harold Varner III is joined by Open champion Cameron Smith and the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, and Paul Casey

As well as the event's $5 million prize purse, an added incentive for LIV Golf players is the availability of Official World Golf Ranking points in the tournament. 

The winner was projected to receive 26 ranking points before Johnson pulled out - but even without him it's still a potentially valuable haul given LIV Golf’s ineligibility to offer its players points.

Last year's title was decided in dramatic fashion as Varner III holed an incredible eagle putt of 92ft to clinch the trophy.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.