Dustin Johnson Resigns from PGA Tour, Explains Decision After LIV Contract

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJune 7, 2022

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - JUNE 07: Dustin Johnson of The United States attends the press conference prior to the LIV Golf Invitational - London at The Centurion Club on June 07, 2022 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images)
Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images

Dustin Johnson confirmed Tuesday he's resigned from the PGA Tour in order to join LIV Golf, which is holding its inaugural event this week in London.

Johnson described the LIV series, which is financially backed by Saudi Arabia, as a "true test," and he'll wait to see how the PGA Tour handles players who compete in the rival competition.

"Obviously at this time it's hard to speak on what the consequences will be, but for right now, I've resigned my membership from the PGA Tour," the two-time major champion told reporters. "I'm going to play here for now, and that's the plan. What the consequences are going to be, I can't comment on how the tour is going to handle it."

An immediate test of the PGA Tour's power over traditional golf will come next week when the next major championship, the 2022 U.S. Open, takes place in Massachusetts.

The U.S. Open is run by the USGA, which doesn't have to enforce any bans put in place by the tour. In turn, Johnson expressed confidence he'll be able to play in the four major events along with the LIV Golf schedule.

"I can't answer for the majors, but hopefully they're going to allow us to play," Johnson said Tuesday. "Obviously, I'm exempt for the majors, so I plan on playing unless I hear otherwise."

If he's eligible for the majors, the biggest loss for Johnson and the other LIV golfers will be removal from consideration for the Ryder Cup.

The 37-year-old South Carolina native said the international event has "definitely meant a lot to me" and he's hopeful the decision is reversed before next year's tournament.

"Obviously, all things are subject to change," Johnson said. "Hopefully at some point it will change and I'll be able to participate. If it doesn't, well, it was another thing I really had to think long and hard about. Ultimately, I decided to come to this and play out here."

He'd also be ineligible for the Presidents Cup, which is next scheduled for September.

A 20-time winner on the PGA Tour, Johnson stated in February he was "fully committed" to the Tour despite interest from LIV Golf.

His decision to reverse course came amid a £100 million offer ($125 million) from LIV, per James Corrigan and Tom Morgan of the Telegraph.

Greg Norman, who won 20 times on the PGA Tour and now serves as the CEO of LIV Golf, told Kent Babb of the Washington Post it also offered Tiger Woods a deal that was "mind-blowingly enormous; we're talking about high nine digits," but he turned it down.

A commitment from Woods could have tipped the scales in favor of LIV, but getting a former top-ranked player in Johnson along with a legend like Phil Mickelson should help generate interest from both golfers and fans alike.

The biggest question for the long-term viability of LIV is likely whether fans take to the format—48 players split into 12 four-man teams. It's a stark variation from the typical solo nature of golf.

Johnson said Tuesday he's confident the new style is going to work.

"Ever since I was first introduced to this idea, I thought it was great for the game of golf," he said. "I was excited about a new format, a new kind of golf that I think is great for the game, is great for the fans, and I think it's going to be very exciting.”

While LIV makes its debut at London's Centurion Club, the PGA Tour is set to host the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto this weekend.