Kevin Na, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour and a longtime Las Vegas resident, is among a group of players defying the tour and entered in next week’s LIV Golf Invitational in London, the first event in a new Saudi-backed startup tour.
Na is among 42 players on a list released by LIV officials for next week’s event promising a $25 million purse to just 48 players. The list also includes Dustin Johnson, the most successful player on the PGA Tour over the past decade. Others on the entry list include Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Taylor Gooch and Hudson Swafford.
Missing from the list is Phi Mickelson, whose damaging remarks in February led to Johnson and other top players to say they would stay on the PGA Tour.
The LIV Golf Invitational is scheduled for June 9-11 at Centurion Club outside of London. The PGA Tour and DP Woltd Tour denied releases for players, meaning they risk punishment — possibly a loss of tour membership — by competing.
“Dustin has been contemplating the opportunity off and on for the past couple of years. Ultimately, he decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it,” David Winkler, Johnson’s manager at Hambric Sports, told The Associated Press in a text message.
“Dustin has never had any issue with the PGA Tour and is grateful for all it has given him, but in the end felt this was too compelling to pass up.”
Na has been among the rumored players jumping ship for several weeks. Attempts by the Review-Journal to reach Na’s agent over the past month have gone unanswered.
Johnson is No. 13 in the world, the highest-ranked player in the field. He had held the No. 1 spot in the world longer than any player since Tiger Woods.
Greg Norman, in his second try to create an alternative circuit to the PGA Tour, had made a strong push for Johnson. Still to be determined is how much Johnson is being paid to join the Saudi venture.
The field features four of the top 50 in the world ranking and 16 of the top 100. LIV Golf said the other six spots would be filled by invitations and from the Asian Tour’s International Series tournament this week in England.
Norman’s group also went after amateurs, adding U.S. Amateur champion James Piot and David Puig, who is competing for Arizona State in the NCAA Championship this week. Also playing is 2019 U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree, who doesn’t have status on any tour.
Review-Journal golf reporter Greg Robertson contributed to this report.