The controversial new LIV Golf Invitational Series, majority-owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, continues to add notable names. The latest two are Bryson DeChambeau (seen at left above) and Patrick Reed (seen at right above), who will join the series not for its opening tournament in London, England this week, but beginning with its first U.S. event and second event overall. That’s set to take place from June 30 to July 2 at Pumpkin Ridge outside of Portland, Oregon. James Corrigan of The Telegraph broke that news Wednesday:, and added that Rickie Fowler is also “close to being confirmed”:
Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed will be announced imminently as the latest big-name players to sign up with the Saudi rebel circuit.
In news that will further stun the world of golf, the two controversial Americans have already agreed multi-million dollar deals to join the £200 million LIV Golf Series, Telegraph Sport understands.
The breakaway circuit, that begins here at the Centurion Club on Thursday, will unveil the captures before the end of this 54-hole tournament and it is also understood that Rickie Fowler is also close to being confirmed. Both DeChambeau and Reed are expected to compete at the second event in Portland from July 3.
Bob Harig of Sports Illustrated added further confirmation:
A source told SI.com/Morning Reed that DeChambeau and Reed would take part in the first United States-based event, June 30-July 2, at Pumpkin Ridge outside of Portland, Oregon, and that they had signed on for multiple years.
Reed (who won the 2018 Masters) and DeChambeau (who won the 2020 U.S. Open) are the latest major winners to join LIV Golf. That list also includes Phil Mickelson (six majors), Dustin Johnson (2016 U.S. Open, 2020 Masters), Sergio García (2017 Masters), Martin Kaymer (2010 PGA Championship, 2014 U.S. Open), Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters), and Louis Oosthuizen (2010 Open Championship). Interestingly enough, though, as Harig notes, DeChambeau’s comments at last week’s Memorial Tournament suggested he intended to stick with the PGA Tour:
“Every person out here has their own opinion on it. For me, I personally don’t think that at this point in time I’m in a place in my career where I can risk things like that.
“I’m loyal to my family that I’ve created around me with sponsors and everything. And as of right now, the golf world is probably going to change in some capacity.
“I don’t know what that is. Not my job to do so. I’m just going to keep playing professional golf and enjoy it wherever it takes me, play with the best players in the world. That’s really all I’ve got, that’s what I’ll do for the rest of my life, because I want to be one of the best players in the world.”
Of course, that was far from definite. But it does appear that things changed in a week for DeChambeau to a point where he can now “risk things like that.” It’s unclear just what changed for him.
It may be notable to DeChambeau’s decision that the United States Golf Association (which runs the U.S. Open) said Tuesday they’ll allow LIV Golf players to compete at that event. The R&A (which runs The Open Championship) and Augusta National Golf Club (which runs the Masters) have not yet declared a firm stance on LIV players’ participation. The PGA of America (which runs the PGA Championship and is separate from the PGA Tour) seems to be set to ban LIV players from the PGA Championship and from the American Ryder Cup team, but that’s not completely set in stone yet.
The only body that’s specifically banned LIV players so far is the PGA Tour. So LIV players can now take part in LIV events (they’re set for eight this year, 10 in 2023, and 14 beginning in 2024) and at least the U.S. Open, and possibly two or even (but unlikely) three further majors as well. The majors are perhaps especially notable, with Johnson in particular citing a desire to keep playing majors. So that U.S. Open announcement that they’ll allow LIV players to participate may be a factor in further people joining that series.
The LIV series has drawn fire for its Saudi governmental backing, particularly around the cited role for that government in the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, their long-running dispute with Qatar (which has had its own sports dimensions), and their mass execution of 81 people earlier this year. Even Mickelson addressed the Khashoggi situation and other Saudi human rights violations in particular earlier this year, comments that led to a huge amount of backlash and to him missing the Masters and the PGA Championship. Mickelson decided to join LIV Golf anyways, though, and so have lots of other golfers, broadcasters, and production executives. We’ll see who’s next to join this series.
[Top images of DeChambeau and Reed respectively from Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports and Adam Cairns/The Columbus Dispatch via USA Today Sports]