Golf star Dustin Johnson has made his move to the rebel Saudi league official, quitting the American tour in a huge move.
Former world No. 1 golfer Dustin Johnson confirmed he has resigned his membership of the US PGA Tour to play in the breakaway LIV Golf Invitational Series.
The decision effectively rules the American two-time major winner out of participating in the Ryder Cup, which pits the United States against Europe every two years.
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Johnson was speaking at a press conference at Centurion Club, near London, ahead of the opening event of the Saudi-backed series, which starts on Thursday.
The world No. 15 said in February he was committed to playing on the PGA Tour, which has refused releases for members to play in LIV Golf’s opener, which clashes with the Canadian Open.
But he has now quit, following a similar decision by veteran US golfer Kevin Na, who is also in the field for the event in St Albans.
“I’m very thankful to the PGA Tour and everything that it’s done for me … but this is something I felt was best for me and my family and I’m very excited about playing,” Johnson said.
The 37-year-old, who is reportedly receiving AU$209 million in appearance fees to play in the series, said it was difficult to predict the consequences of his decision.
“Right now, I’ve resigned my membership from the Tour,” he added.
“I’m going to play here for now and that’s the plan.”
“The Ryder Cup is unbelievable and it’s something that has definitely meant a lot to me,” added Johnson, who won all five of his matches in the United States’ record 19-9 win over Europe last year.
“I’m proud to say that I’ve played and represented my country and hopefully I will get a chance to do that again, but I don’t make the rules.”
The former Masters and US Open champion said he was exempt to play in the majors due to his record.
Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson confirmed on Tuesday he had also signed up to play in the inaugural LIV event in a major coup for the organisers.
Mickelson has not played since the publication of comments in February where he criticised the PGA Tour and LIV Golf’s Saudi backers.
Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter are also among the 48-man field for the AU$34 million event at Centurion Club.
Players opting into LIV Golf have done so despite PGA Tour warnings of disciplinary action.
The DP World Tour has been more opaque than the PGA Tour, saying it is “evaluating each request on a case-by-case basis”.
The LIV Golf Invitational Series, which comprises eight tournaments this year, is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Amnesty International has said the series is an example of Saudi Arabia attempting to “sportswash” its human rights record.