LIV Golf luring players from PGA Tour events
CROMWELL, CT (WFSB) - We’re a week and a half away from the Travelers Championship and at least one superstar won’t be there.
Dustin Johnson, the 2020 Travelers champion, has been suspended from the PGA Tour after he joined the Saudi Arabian sponsored LIV Golf.
Johnson’s long-term status on the PGA Tour is still up in the air.
Tournament officials said they deal with golfers coming and going every single year but defecting to a different tour is a first.
Phil Mickelson, one of the most recognizable names in golf teed off this morning in London, with LIV Golf.
“This is really an existential threat to golf,” said Declan Hill.
LIV has been luring pros like Mickelson and Johnson with huge amounts of money.
Johnson reportedly got $125 million for signing on with LIV.
The former number one golfer in the world made $74 million over 15 years on the PGA Tour.
While Johnson is already a star, LIV is going after pros who aren’t household names.
Hill, an Investigations Professor from the University of New Haven, said there will be more.
“The PGA Tour is really under a direct threat because this is a multi-million-dollar contract for these golfers and it’s really difficult for the golfers, many of whom, struggled all their sporting life to put enough bread on their table, to say no, even if it’s coming from a human rights challenged regime,” Hill said.
Hill said LIV Golf is an example of sports washing, which is designed to distract from a negative image.
“It’s constructing an alternative reality,” said Hill.
No matter how you look at it, the reality is that LIV is pulling pros from the PGA.
Nathan Grube, the Tournament Directors, said the impact on Travelers is minimal.
“Dustin won’t be here this year, but we have probably one of the strongest fields we had in probably our 15-year history,” said Grube.
Grube said the constant shuffling of schedules is very common.
The LIV influence is something new but isn’t going to threaten the Travelers and the tens of millions it’s given back to the community since the tournament started.
“When you look at all the ingredients in what a PGA Tour event is, it’s a pretty special formula that I think has a very long-lasting business model,” Grube said.
The field is expected to be bolstered this year because the US Open is next week and it’ll be in the Boston area.
LIV also goes to the Boston area later this year.
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