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Dustin Johnson in field for LIV debut event; Phil Mickelson absent

Sportsnaut
May 19, 2022; Tulsa, OK, USA;  Dustin Johnson plays a shot on the 13th tee during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Southern Hills Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Two-time major champion Dustin Johnson intends to play in the debut tournament of the LIV Golf Invitational Series next month in London, according to the field that LIV released Tuesday night.

Johnson, 37, was the biggest previously-unreported name in the field, which does not include Phil Mickelson. The circuit, seen as a potential rival to the PGA Tour, became controversial for accepting financing from Saudi backers.

Other notable names in the field include Englishmen Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, Spaniard Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na, Talor Gooch, Germany’s Marin Kaymer and South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace.

The PGA Tour did not grant its members a release to play in the event, which will be contested June 9-11, opposite the Canadian Open. Johnson — who won the Canadian Open in 2018 — and other members could face punishment for choosing the LIV Golf event without the tour’s permission.

Johnson, who has dropped from third to 13th in the Official World Golf Ranking this year, is the highest-ranked played listed in the field. The former world No. 1 previously said in a statement that he was “fully committed to the PGA Tour.”

The startup league became radioactive after Mickelson admitted to author Alan Shipnuck that the Saudis were “scary (expletives) to get involved with,” but that he planned to deal with them anyway as a leverage play to get more money out of the PGA Tour, including getting players their individual media rights.

Johnson and several other PGA Tour stars said in February that they were committed to the PGA Tour, and Mickelson issued a mea culpa for his actions and took a leave of absence from the game. He did not compete in the Masters or the PGA Championship, the first two majors of the season.

Mickelson’s representatives filed a request for him to play in the LIV event at the same time that he registered for the PGA Championship and U.S. Open. After he withdrew from the PGA the Friday before it began, it’s unclear when he will make his return to the sport.

The field for London also includes three amateurs — 15-year-old Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat of Thailand, David Puig of Spain and 2021 U.S. Amateur champion James Piot — along with Brooks Koepka’s brother, Chase Koepka.

–Field Level Media