Woods takes aim at LIV Golf defectors ahead of St Andrews Open
LIV Golf duo Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson earned twice as much as NBA great LeBron James and footballing legend Cristiano Ronaldo in the past year thanks to their Saudi switch. LIV Golf emerged last summer, and has more than made its mark on professional golf.
The breakaway circuit has found itself at war with the PGA Tour, after luring in a whole host of big names thanks to the backing of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. Players joining the LIV setup have benefited from mega-money signing fees and lucrative tournament prize pots.
Two players who have soaked in the wealth more than most are American stars Mickelson and Johnson. The former Masters champions were two of the biggest names to join the Saudi-funded series last June, and received two of the league’s biggest payouts.
Reports suggested that Mickelson earned a cool £162million for signing on the dotted line with Greg Norman and co, whilst Johnson raked in around £100m. The numbers in on-field earnings were eye-watering too, and were significantly larger than the earnings of sporting giants James and Ronaldo.
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According to Forbes’ rich list, Mickelson made £83.6m from competing during 2022, whilst inaugural LIV champion Dustin Johnson earned £82m. This is compared to Lakers poster boy James, who brought home £35.8m on the court, whilst Ronaldo made £37m on the back of his move to Saudi League side Al-Nassr.
Whilst Mickelson and Johnson are no doubt enjoying life, their move to rebel league has come with some consequences. The pair were both suspended from the PGA Tour following the switch and received widespread criticism, with the LIV model noted by many as a sportswashing exercise of Saudi Arabia.
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Mickelson infamously found himself in hot water last February, after describing the Saudi state as ‘scary motherf******’, before seemingly excusing the nation’s poor human rights record in a bid to gain leverage over the PGA Tour. He allegedly told Fire Pit Collective: “They’re scary motherf****** to get involved with.
“We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident 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.”
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