Dustin Johnson has said that he has resigned his membership of the PGA Tour in order to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which starts on Thursday at Centurion Club in Hertfordshire.
Speaking at a press conference held at Centurion this morning, Johnson said: “For now, I’ve resigned my membership from the PGA Tour and I’m going to play here. That’s the plan. I’ll look at what the consequences will be, but I can’t comment on how the tour will handle it.
“I thought it was best for me and my family. I don’t want to play for the rest of my life, and this gives me an opportunity to do what I want to do. I can’t answer for the majors, but hopefully they’re going to allow us to play. Obviously I’m exempt for the majors, so I plan on playing in those unless I hear otherwise.”
Johnson joined the PGA Tour in 2007 and has won 24 tournaments and $74m in prize money. The former world no.1 will play all eight events of the $255m LIV Golf Series, with the 37-year-old reportedly having been signed up for a $125m fee.
In quitting the PGA Tour, the 2020 Masters champion is also giving up an opportunity to play in future Ryder Cups. He has been on the winning side in two of his five appearances, including winning all five matches at last year’s record victory at Whistling Straits.
“The Ryder Cup is unbelievable and has meant a lot to me, but ultimately I decided this was best for me and my family,” he said. “All things are subject to change and hopefully at some point it will change and I will get a chance to do that again.”
As things currently stand, US Ryder Cup players must be members of the PGA of America and the PGA Tour in order to be eligible to play in the Ryder Cup. The same applies to the DP World Tour for those European players looking to play in the matches.
The majors are not organised by the PGA Tour and Johnson’s victory in the 2020 Masters gives him a lifetime exemption for the tournament. His 2016 US Open triumph guarantees him a spot in that championship until 2025. His Masters win also gives him a five-year exemption for The Open and US PGA Championship.
Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Kevin Na have also resigned their PGA Tour membership to join the LIV Golf Series, thus removing themselves from the threat of sanctions and fines. Other leading players in the LIV Golf field, including Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, have yet to announce whether they are hoping to remain PGA Tour members.
Neither the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour have officially said what specific sanctions they will impose of LIV Golf players, with suspensions and bans being the most likely option.