Dustin Johnson is playing the PGA Tour. And he’ll be watching its competition.
The two-time major winner, who three months ago quieted rumors over his potential involvement in the LIV Invitational Series, said Wednesday that he wouldn’t entirely be turning his back on the Saudi-funded tour. Ahead of this week’s PGA Championship, Johnson was asked: “In terms of you being someone the Saudi group was very interested in and you made your statements and everything like that in February, I’m curious now as a player, there’s been some talk about golf being at a very critical crossroads, how do you see it shaking out?” — to which he replied:
“I mean, I think golf is in a good spot, and I think what they’re doing is — could potentially be good for the game of golf. I’m excited to see what happens here in a few weeks.”
“Excited meaning?” a reporter asked
“I’ll be watching,” he said.
Both stances — the Saudi tour being good for the game, and his excitement — are somewhat of a turn from a statement he released in late February through the Tour. Once considered to be one of the bigger players thinking of joining the LIV series — he had also played in the Saudi Invitational in February — Johnson said in the release that he was “fully committed” to the Tour.
“Over the past several months, there has been a great deal of speculation about an alternative tour; much of which seems to have included me and my future in professional golf,” Johnson said in the statement released by the Tour’s communications team. “I feel it is now time to put such speculation to rest. I am fully committed to the PGA Tour.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to play on the best tour in the world and for all it has provided me and my family. While there will always be areas where our Tour can improve and evolve, I am thankful for our leadership and the many sponsors who make the PGA Tour golf’s premier tour.”
About four hours after Johnson’s statement on Feb. 20, Bryson DeChambeau also pledged that he would remain with the Tour, and their statements coincided with other players re-committing earlier that week during play at the Genesis Invitational. About a month later, the LIV Series announced its schedule, and the first event will be early next month in London.
Also Wednesday, Johnson was asked whether he knew when he would see Phil Mickelson next “or what’s going to happen next.” Mickelson, of course, has been heavily linked to the LIV series, though following controversial statements he made in February over its Saudi backers, he has not been seen or heard from publicly since — which includes him withdrawing from his title defense at the PGA Championship.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously Phil is one of the greats of the game,” Johnson said. “I was hoping to see him here this week. But I haven’t talked to him, so I really don’t know when we’ll see him again.”
A reporter then asked Johnson: “For a guy who apparently never gets distracted by anything except these interviews, what was the greater distraction: any contact and thinking about the Saudis, or your wedding?” Earlier this month, Johnson married Paulina Gretzky.
“Neither. I mean, Paulina did an unbelievable job with the wedding,” Johnson said. “I really didn’t have to do much. I helped for about half an hour with the seating chart. That was about it. That was my whole contribution.”