Joaquin Niemann won the golf tournament, but the PGA Tour won the weekend. That’s because Dustin Johnson missed the cut at the Genesis Invitational in Pacific Palisades, California, by two strokes but issued a significant blow to Greg Norman’s renegade tour. Bryson Dechambeau quickly followed suit.
If more of the world’s best golfers follow suit, the Super Golf League will have to rebrand itself as the Pretty Good Golf League. Or it might have to give up entirely.
Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau reject overtures from Greg Norman
Dustin Johnson pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour, and the former No.-1 ranked golfer in the world may have fatally wounded the Saudi-backed Super Golf League. Shortly afterward, Bryson DeChambeau released his own statement confirming he will remain aligned with the PGA Tour.
“I am fully-committed to the PGA Tour. I am grateful for the opportunity to play on the best tour in the world and for all it has provided me and my family. While there will always be areas where our Tour can improve and evolve, I am thankful for our leadership and the many sponsors who make the PGA Tour golf’s premier tour.”Dustin Johnson
Said DeChambeau: “As long as the best players in the world are playing the PGA Tour, so will I.”
Those constitute major blows to former golf great Greg Norman, who is trying to organize the new league. Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, and Collin Morikawa also spurned the Super Golf League, according to the New York Post.
Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau may have been too hasty
Playing on the PGA Tour has been lucrative for Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and other leading players. The weekly tournament purses are good, and the endorsement opportunities are better.
However, Greg Norman came along to propose a new league funded with money from Saudi Arabia. Aside from big signing bonuses and tournament purses, the league would offer 40 or so of the world’s top players a shorter schedule in which events would also have a team component.
The PGA Tour counterpunched by beefing up purses and adding a $40 million Player Impact Program, which funnels money to big-name players. According to the New York Post, however, the organization also was planning to mimic the team competition. That’s where Johnson and DeChambeau may have been premature in declaring their allegiance.
According to the paper, a major backer on the PGA Tour proposed investing heavily to buy out six less-successful tournaments and make them part of a schedule of eight lucrative team events jointly owned by the backer and the players. Commissioner Jay Monahan reportedly supported the plan.
However, Ed Herlihy, the chairman of the PGA Tour Policy Board, shot the idea down in October, with the paper citing sources who said he insisted upon the Tour maintaining complete ownership.
“That is complete BS,” one of the sources in the report said.
Phil Mickelson has been critical of the PGA Tour
Longtime star Phil Mickelson has been one of the golfers taking a long look at jumping to the Super Golf League because of his dissatisfaction with the way the PGA Tour handles licensing and marketing. He says more money should have been flowing into players’ pockets all along. He has gone so far as to call the people running the organization “obnoxiously greedy.”
An unauthorized Mickelson biography, likely arriving around the time of The Masters Tournament or the U.S. Open, contains more harsh comments from Lefty, according to Golf Week. Even Mickelson finds it almost unbelievable that he’d do business with a league backed by money from Saudi Arabia.
“They’re scary motherf****** to get involved with,” author Alan Shipnuck quotes Mickelson as saying. “We know they killed (reporter Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.
“Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates. They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse.”
In that respect, perhaps Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau were premature in throwing their support behind the PGA Tour. According to the New York Post story, players didn’t have a voice in the plan for a team format.
“This concept never even got to the players,’’ a source said. “They never even heard it, they never got to discuss it, they never voted on it.’’
If that’s the case, then players may be doing themselves a disservice by not giving Greg Norman a chance to tell them more about the Super Golf League. Their potential leverage might never be greater than it is now.