Golf’s big shake-up is one step closer, with 42 of the 48 names revealed for the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational in London next week.
Remarkably, too, world number 13 and one of the biggest names in golf, Dustin Johnson, is among the entrants who will tee off at the Centurion Club, who will share the $25 million ($35 million) prize pool.
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Among the heavy list of major winners are Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.
Also included are Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.
Four Australians have also been included, including PGA winner Matt Jones.
Interestingly, Phil Mickelson, who hasn’t teed off since falling on his own sword after causing the biggest stir in golf history, has not been named.
That’s not to say the six-time Grand Slam winner won’t be a late inclusion, with six other names to follow over the next week, but his absence continues one of the most perplexing stories in golf.
Mickelson was forced to apologize and has since gone down to earth after it was revealed he was playing the Saudi-backed LIV golf league against the PGA Tour to try to reshape the current status quo.
“It’s scary to get involved with motherfuckers,” Mickelson said of Saudi Arabia. We know that they killed [Jamal] Khashoggi and they have a horrible record on human rights. There they execute people for being gay. Knowing all this, why would he even consider it? Because this is a unique opportunity to reshape the way the PGA Tour operates. They have been able to get by with manipulative, coercive and heavy-handed tactics because we, the players, had no recourse.”
He made a half-hearted apology, saying his “off the record” speech had been taken “out of context.”
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But since the comments hit Earth, Mickelson hasn’t played and sensationally withdrew from last month’s PGA Championship and thus missed out on a chance to defend his title.
His downfall was straight from the school of Shakespeare, having become the oldest senior champion (50) by taking home the Wanamaker Trophy.
In a statement from Johnson’s management, it was confirmed that the two-time major winner had been considering joining the LIV golf league for “the past few years”.
“Dustin has been eyeing the opportunity off and on for the last two years. Ultimately, he decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue him,” David Winkle said of his client in a statement.
“Dustin has never had a problem with the PGA TOUR and is grateful for everything it has given him, but in the end, he felt this was too compelling to pass up.”
In addition to Jones, Australians Jediah Morgan, Wade Ormsby and Blake Windred are also included.
While making it to the tee doesn’t mean all 48 players will join the LIV Golf Invitational permanently, there’s no telling what punishment the PGA Tour and DW World Tour will mete out.
LIV CEO Greg Norman hopes the delicious money on offer will convince more of the world’s best players to join the rogue league.
“Honestly, it doesn’t matter who’s playing (initially), we’re going to host the event,” Norman said in April. “There is a first prize of $4 million ($A5.7m). I hope a boy who is ranked 350th in the world wins. He will change his life, the life of his family.
“And then some of our events will come by and the top players will see someone win $6 million, $8 million, and they’ll say ‘enough is enough, I know I can beat these guys week in and week out with my hands tied behind my back. ‘”
Here is the complete list of players (42 of 48 announced players):
Oliver Becker, South Africa
Richard Bland, England
Laurie Canter, England
Ratchanon Chantananuwat (amateur), Thailand
Hennie Du Plessis, South Africa
Oliver Fisher, England
Sergio García, Spain
Talor Gooch, United States
Branden Grace, South Africa
Justin Harding, South Africa
Sam Horsfield, England
Dustin Johnson, United States
Matt Jones, Australia
Sadom Kaewkanjana, Thailand
Martin Kaymer, Germany
Phachara Khongwatmai, Thailand
Sihwan Kim, United States
Ryōsuke Kinoshita, Japan
Chase Koepka, United States
Jinichiro Kozuma, Japan
Pablo Larrazabal, Spain
Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland
Jediah Morgan, Australia
Kevin Na, United States
Shaun Norris, South Africa
Andy Ogletree, United States
Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa
Wade Ormsby, Australia
Adrian Otaegui, Spain
Turk Pettit, United States
James Piot (amateur), USA
Ian Poulter, England
David Puig (amateur), Spain
J C Ritchie, South Africa
Charl Schwartzel, South Africa
Hudson Swafford, United States
Hideto Tanihara, Japan
Peter Uihlein, United States
Scott Vincent, Zimbabwe
Lee Westwood, England
Bernd Wiesberger, Austria
Blake Windred, Australia