Bryson DeChambeau to LIV Golf: Ex-major champion set to join rival league for first US event in Portland

LIV Golf is having itself a week. After landing Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson for its first event at the Centurion Club in London this week, the first LIV Golf draft was held on Tuesday evening and everyone in the golf world was fixed on the spectacle of it all. Now, the league is adding 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau with others rumored to follow shortly after that.

DeChambeau will join the Saudi Arabian-backed league, likely for its second event at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland, Oregon, from June 30-July 2. Though his name had been rumored for a while, this still comes as a bit of a surprise and provides LIV Golf with a ton of momentum as it heads into its inaugural eight-event season.

“Bryson has always been an innovator,” his agent said in a statement† “Having the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something unique had always been intriguing to him. Professional golf as we know it is changing and it’s happening quickly.”

After missing time with an injury, DeChambeau made his first PGA Tour appearance in several months last week at the Memorial Tournament, where he missed the cut. His intentions clearly changed over the last seven days.

“I think that’s mostly — a lot of it is private,” DeChambeau said last week at Muirfield Village. “There’s not really any conversations that need to be made about that, other than the fact that, like, every person out here has their own opinion on it. Me, there’s obviously a lot of conversation. For me, I personally don’t think that at this point in time I’m in a place in my career where I can risk things like that.

“I’m loyal to my family that I’ve created around me with sponsors and everything. And as of right now, the golf world is probably going to change in some capacity. I don’t know what that is. Not my job that’s really all I’ve got, that’s what I’ll do for the rest of my life, because I want to be one of the best players in the world.”

Rick Gehman and Kyle Porter discuss reports that Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed will join the LIV Golf Invitational Series. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify

This is another coup for LIV Golf, which has landed more notable names in its fancy than anyone thought it might. It’s also a problem for the PGA Tour, which has been fairly quiet up to this point on specific disciplinary action for players who jump ship for the rival league. One PGA Tour player I spoke with expects a harsh statement from the Tour over the next day or two, and I believe it will come as soon as balls are in the air on Thursday in London and players are officially playing in the event.

LIV Golf might not be done adding players, either. According to multiple sources, 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed is expected to join DeChambeau in the LIV Golf league. Sources also told CBS Sports that more big names are expected to be added in the days ahead, a list potentially including Jason Kokrak, Rickie Fowler and Harold Varner III. As I’ve stated all alongthe way the major championship organizations handle all of this is probably going to determine how it plays out in the future.

The USGA announced on Tuesday that players in the LIV Golf league would also be allowed to play the 2022 US Open from June 16-19, but it did not take a long-term stance on the league. It seems as if the four major organizations are wanting to withhold OWGR points from the LIV Golf events with the hope that players who jump to the PGA Tour’s rival league will eventually cycle out of qualifying for the four majors because they can’t earn enough points to qualify.

Regardless, the PGA Tour is in a difficult position. With players ejecting from the Tour and heading for the perception of greener pastures and also resigning from the Tour in bunches, their line of recourse is extremely limited. There’s no end in sight to that, either. The last six months have been curious and intriguing as it relates to the fracturing of professional golf, but the next six are going to shape the future of the sport for a long, long time.

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