The bomb that had been about to explode for some time has finally done so in recent days. The more or less veiled threats of schism in professional golf have been consummated with the confirmation that the LIV golf sponsored by Saudi Arabia goes ahead. It will be next week when the first test will be held at Centurion Golf with four players from the top 50 in the world, as well as other figures that will give this first of the eight events planned in the new calendar a glittering veneer.
The most important name of the 48 that will meet in London in this new championship model is that of Dustin Johnson, former world number one and who is out of the type of golfer who had been present in the previous rumors that had been emerging until now.
The difficulty in having the stars confirmed (the PGATour threats to sanction those who dared to play in this new Super League stopped many of them) meant that only men who are already back on the American circuit (such as Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell or Sergio García) decided to publicly confirm their interest. On the other hand, the repeated presence of these professionals at the Saudi Invitational for four years already suggested that they were not going to be disgusted by this new initiative either.
However, despite the fact that Johnson is a double winner of this winter tournament, nobody could have expected that this PGATour icon would decide to make the leap to LIVGolf. This is a direct challenge to Commissioner Jay Monahan and his threat to sanction those who dared to disobey him. Especially since Dustin is not just anyone, but the man who has spent the most weeks as world number one of all those who are active (135 weeks) and the one with the highest ranking of those who will debut next Thursday in England (13 ). And the fine imposed on him (which can vary from a year without playing on the Tour to a lifetime ban) will depend on what the rest of his teammates do in the future.
In fact, on this first trip to South Carolina he will be accompanied by Louis Oosthuizen (20), Kevin Na (33) or Talor Gooch (35), in addition to the other figures mentioned, not without merit at all: Westwood was number one world and European while Garcia, McDowell, Oosthuzien and Charles Schwartzel have greats to their credit.
The main motivation of all of them, along with other outstanding players on the European Tour such as Pablo Larrazábal, Adrián Otaegui, Bern Wiesberger or Oliver Fisher (these last two members of the European side of the Ryder Cup), is the possibility of changing their lives in a few few tournaments. Each week they play in Europe for an average of two million dollars in prizes while in each of the new ones they will do it for twenty-five. And with a closed cast of 48 competitors and no cut, which ensures income whatever they do.
On the other hand, the slowness in deciding to hold this Centurion tournament has meant that it is not yet known how the alternative team event is going or if it will be able to be seen on television on any of the usual channels. It is no longer known if it is due to secrecy or because the bull has caught them with the dates and until they have secured the squad of players they have not started to close the rest of the issues. What is striking is that apart from the professionals, outstanding amateurs have been admitted, such as the Spanish David Puig (who is triumphing at Arizona State), the American Jamers Piot (winner of the USAmateur) or the Thai TK Chantananuwat, who At 15 years old, he is one of the great hopes for the future of world golf.
The future of Greg Norman at the head of the Saudi project will depend on what happens next week in London. His latest public statements did not help him at all and he jumped to the fore the name of Jack Nicklaus to replace him. Although the "Golden Bear" quickly denied the biggest: "I grew up on the PGA Tour and I have no interest in turning my back on it at this point." The best thing, in any case, will be to wait to see how the tournament turns out and if Monahan finally dares to take his threats to the last consequences.