News & Opinion

Report: Rival tour forces golf stars to pick cash or Ryder Cup

Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson at 2020 PGA Championship
Justin Rose (left) and Dustin Johnson are among golf’s biggest stars who reportedly have been offered 8-figure deals to jump to a rival pro tour, which could jeopardize their participation in the Ryder Cup, according to a London newspaper’s report.

Ryder Cup could be under siege, The Telegraph of London reports, as Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and others must choose between Saudis' $30 million offers and this fall’s matches

Some of golf’s biggest stars have been offered tens of millions of dollars to jump to a rival tour backed by Saudi financiers, and the timing could affect this year’s Ryder Cup matches, according to a report Tuesday by James Corrigan in London’s The Telegraph newspaper.

Americans Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, all multiple major champions, and England’s Justin Rose have been sent multimillion-dollar deals to play on a breakaway world tour, according to the report. The offers, reportedly worth $30 million or more apiece – $100 million to Mickelson – would force the golfers to choose between the money and the Ryder Cup, which is scheduled for Sept. 24-26 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

Last year, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy said they would not jump to a rival tour. The PGA Tour effectively shut down the upstart Premier Golf League, which had offered to buy into the European Tour. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan bought a reported $90 million stake in the media division of the European Tour. In recent weeks, details of the PGA Tour’s $40 million Player Impact Program have been disclosed a bonus plan for 10 players who advance the Tour’s via social media and other platforms.

But, leaders of a rival tour apparently refuse to go away. Each of the stars offered the eight-figure deals would serve as team leaders and be joined by three other players. The prize money, according to an anonymous insider cited by Corrigan, would be “astronomical.”

Saudi negotiators reportedly have set up camp in Jupiter, Fla., home to many of the game’s top stars, and pressed the players for immediate answers.

Monahan reportedly was planning to meet with players before this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. “The Saudis believe the Tour can’t expel members,” a source told The Telegraph’s Corrigan, “and it could end up in a big legal fight.”

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