Superstar Bubba Watson will pocket a cool $50 million to join the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit — joining a number of big names like Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, and Sergio Garcia — according to a report published Wednesday by The Telegraph.
Watson’s addition to the circuit may not be a huge surprise to many, since he was featured in early LIV promotional material — only to be quickly removed — and sources suggest he is likely to face a permanent PGA ban for defecting. Reports indicate that Watson, a 12-time Tour winner, is likely to captain one of four 12-man teams.
Bubba Watson is headed to LIV Golf. 👀 pic.twitter.com/tduhpdc22d
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) July 27, 2022
Critics of LIV Golf have complained that the circuit is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, arguing that American golfers should refuse to support it because of U.S. intelligence indicating the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the driving force behind the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The LIV Golf League is set to officially launch in 2023 with 12 team franchises who will participate in 14 tournaments. The complete schedule has yet to be announced, but plans include expansion across several continents in the coming months. The total prize money for the tour is said to be $405 million.
“I’ll believe that when I see it… but as an adoptive parent and Christian, Bubba Watson should know that adoption is illegal in Saudi Arabia and so is practicing Christianity and that the man who could change that, but won’t, is in control of the fund that pays for LIV Golf,” Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee responded last month when someone predicted that Watson would be among the next to join the tour.
The LIV circuit appears to be pulling out all the stops to bring over some big-name talents. Even American golf legend Tiger Woods reported that he had been approached by the league, although he rejected the offer. And LIV Golf creator Greg Norman revealed that the circuit had offered Woods a “mind-blowingly enormous” sum to make the jump.
Norman told The Washington Post that Woods’ offer had reached high into nine-digit territory, but that he had turned it down. Fellow golf legend Jack Nicklaus also reportedly received — and rejected — an offer in the $100 million ballpark, while Phil Mickelson signed with the controversial league for a whopping $200 million.