LIV Tour

LIV Golf: Dustin Johnson’s 4Aces in search for new player in Free Agency

The first transfer period in the history of golf is entering the hot phase – free agency. In this phase, teams with open roster spots can sign unsigned players from the Lock Zone and Open Zone. Players from the Lock Zone have completed the previous season in positions 1-24 and are therefore guaranteed a place in the coming season. These players can voluntarily become free agents and negotiate a new contract. Open Zone players who finished the season in 25th-44th place are automatically free agents and must sign a new contract. At the moment, ten roster spots are still vacant – four of the 12 teams are already complete. 4Aces GC captain Dustin Johnson among others is still in search for a new player.

LIV Golf: An overview of free agency

The situation in the second phase of the LIV Golf transfer period for the individual teams is explained below.

The overview of the current LIV Golf rosters. (Photo: LIV Golf)

4Aces GC

The 2022 LIV Golf Team Champions have one roster spot available with Pat Perez no longer under contract after finishing 28th in the points list, leaving Captain Dustin Johnson with the decision to either re-sign Perez or look for another player. Peter Uihlein, who joined the team from Smash GC last offseason, secured and accepted a contract extension with the 4Aces after his 12th place finish in this year’s Individual Standings. Rounding out the formidable squad is Patrick Reed, who finished 6th.

Cleeks GC

Martin Kaymer’s Cleeks have two open roster spots after Bernd Wiesberger and Graeme McDowell finished 41st and 42nd respectively in the Individual Standing and are now free agents. Kaymer remains as captain, receiving exempt status despite finishing in the Drop Zone (45th or below). Richard Bland re-signed with the Cleeks after his late-season surge locked up a spot with a 20th place finish.

Crushers GC

The reigning 2023 Team Champions, led by Captain Bryson DeChambeau, will return their entire roster. Anirban Lahiri, the team’s only player with an expiring contract, accepted his extension offer after finishing 11th in the Individual Standings. Charles Howell III, the winner of LIV Golf Mayakoba, finished 10th while Paul Casey remains under contract after finishing 35th.

Fireballs GC

Sergio Garcia’s Fireballs have one open roster spot after Carlos Ortiz, who finished 15th in the Individual Standings, opted for free agency after declining a contract extension offer. Abraham Ancer and Eugenio Chacarra, each under contract for at least one more season, finished in 26th and 32nd respectively.

Hyflyers GC

Phil Mickelson’s team has one open spot after James Piot was relegated after finishing 47th in the Drop Zone. Both Cameron Tringale (16th) and Brendan Steele (19th) are under contract and will return. Mickelson will look to add a player through free agency or the draft.

Iron Heads GC

Captain Kevin Na will add at least one new player due to Sihwan Kim’s relegation. Scott Vincent played his way into the Lock Zone in the regular-season finale in Jeddah and accepted his extension offer. Danny Lee, winner of LIV Golf Tucson, is under contract for next season.

Majesticks GC

Co-captains Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood return, as does Sam Horsfield, who rejoined the lineup late in the season following an injury and remains under contract.

RangeGoats GC

Captain Bubba Watson’s decision to acquire Talor Gooch last offseason proved successful after Gooch hoisted the 2023 Individual Championship trophy. The addition of Gooch helped the RangeGoats finish runners-up at this year’s Team Championship in Miami. Watson’s lineup is set as both Harold Varner III (7th) and Thomas Pieters (33rd) are under contract.

Ripper GC

With Matt Jones (37th) now a free agent and Jediah Morgan (46th) relegated, Captain Cameron Smith has the option to either re-sign Jones or look to add two new players via free agency or the draft. Marc Leishman, who completes the team, finished 18th in the 2023 Individual Standings.

Smash GC

Captain Brooks Koepka has one open roster spot following Chase Koepka’s relegation while Jason Kokrak (23rd) and Matt Wolff (27th) are under contract for another season.

Stinger GC

Captain Louis Oosthuizen’s team is set with Branden Grace (9th), Dean Burmester (14th) and Charl Schwartzel (38th) under contract.

Torque GC

Four-time tournament champions and third-place finishers at this year’s Team Championship, Joaquin Niemann’s Torque has one open roster spot heading into this offseason. Mito Pereira (8th) and Sebastian Muñoz (11th) secured their spots for next year while David Puig is a free agent, having finished 31st in this year’s Individual Standings. Thus, Niemann will look to add one player via free agency or the draft

LIV Golf: The remainder of the transfer period

Free agency will conclude when four league roster spots remain. These open spots are reserved for the winner of The International Series 2023 Rankings – claimed by Andy Ogletree this past weekend in Hong Kong – and the top three finishers from LIV Golf Promotions, which will be staged December 8-10 at the iconic Abu Dhabi Golf Club in United Arab Emirates. Following the qualifying tournament, the league will host the LIV Golf Draft through which these players will be drafted onto the remaining teams that have an open spot on their roster.

Additionally, to support opportunities for teams to strengthen their rosters once the season has begun, a mid-season trading window will take place in 2024 (exact dates to be announced) where teams and players will be free to negotiate trades as well as extensions to their existing contracts if a player is in the last year of his contract.

Text: With material from LIV Golf

LIV Tour

For Saudi League: Dustin Johnson gives up PGA Tour membership

Dustin Johnson has resigned his membership on the PGA Tour to play in the Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf Invitational Series, according to the BBC. The tour, run by Greg Norman, lures American and European stars with horrendous entry bonuses and prize money beyond that of the four major tournaments. This week, the first tournament of the “Saudi League” is scheduled to take place in London. Martin Kaymer and Bernd Wiesberger are also on the start list.

Johnson reportedly signed a contract that commits him to playing in all eight tournaments, starting with Thursday’s at the Centurion Club in London. The BBC quotes the 37-year-old as saying, “I don’t want to play for the rest of my life. This gives me the opportunity to do what I want to do.” The two-time major winner has earned nearly $75 million in prize money alone so far in his career.

Before Johnson, Kevin Na had already declared he would rest his membership on the PGA Tour and tee off this week in the controversial tour’s first tournament. Phil Mickelson has also announced that he will compete in the LIV Golf Invitational Series after a five-month break. What consequences this will have for the players on the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour has not yet been finally clarified. The PGA Tour had always threatened to ban the renegades for life. So far, there have been no statements from Europe’s top circuit as to how those players who actually play in London will be dealt with. For the American Ryder Cup team, “DJ” will probably no longer be allowed to compete. “The Ryder Cup is incredible and has meant a lot to me, but in the end I made the decision that was best for me and my family,” Johnson said.

LIV Tour

LIV Golf: Martin Kaymer and Dustin Johnson in the field for first event

Speculation has been rife for a long time, but now the LIV Golf Invitational Series has announced the field for next week’s event at London’s Centurion Club. 42 of 48 players have already been selected for the three-round tournament, with a few spots still open. It was announced a few weeks ago that Martin Kaymer also wants to play in the team event, which is endowed with 25 million dollars. Besides the German Major winner, Bernd Wiesberger will also take part in the rival event to the PGA and DP World Tour. Surprisingly, Dustin Johnson has also changed his mind and is now the main mover of the event in the UK’s capital.

“Too compelling to pass up”

“Dustin has been contemplating the opportunity off-and-on for the past couple of years,” Johnson’s manager, David Winkle with Hambric Sports, said in a statement (Golf Channel). It was only in February that Dustin Johnson became one of many stars to declare his allegiance to the PGA Tour via a statement. “Ultimately, he decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it. 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.” So the new competition series, financed by Saudi Arabian money, has succeeded after all in landing a real top-class player in the form of the world number 13 and two-time major winner.

Martin Kaymer in the mix, question about Mickelson

Moreover, the major winners and former world number one announced by Greg Norman can be found in the field of participants. As expected, Martin Kaymer will tee off at the Centurion Club alongside Johnson. In addition, there are names like Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter. Austrian Bernd Wiesberger will also take part in the opening event of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, as will other players from the DP World Tour, and will compete for the winner’s cheque of four million dollars (!).

Phil Mickelson, who was also linked to the new Saudi league, discarded himself with unspeakable statements with the PGA Tour and subsequently took time off, is incidentally not on the list published on Tuesday night. The six-time major winner, who also cancelled his title defence at the 2022 PGA Championship, is therefore unlikely to end his golfing break – as of now. However, only 42 of 48 starters have been announced. Five places are still to be left open for qualifiers from the Asian Tour, one place would then still be free. Jason Kokrak, who had openly flirted with the change, is also missing from the list.

LIV Golf Invitational Series criticised

The tournament series led by Greg Norman has been criticised because it is fed with money from the Public Investment Fund, which is largely in Saudi Arabian hands. The government of the state is accused of numerous human rights violations, which are supposed to be whitewashed with so-called “sports washing”. In the eight-tournament series, 48 players in twelve teams will compete against each other. Since there is no cut, even the last player will still receive a guaranteed fat cash prize. PGA Tour and DP World Tour had reacted to the requests of their players to be allowed to participate in the new competitive tour with tough rejections. It remains to be seen what the consequences will be for participation in the events of the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

The field of participants for the opening event

Oliver Bekker
Richard Bland
Laurie Canter
Ratchanon Chantananuwat (Amateur)
Hennie Du Plessis
Oliver Fisher
Sergio Garcia
Talor Gooch
Branden Grace
Justin Harding
Sam Horsfield
Dustin Johnson
Matt Jones
Sadom Kaewkanjana
Martin Kaymer
Phachara Khongwatmai
Sihwan Kim
Ryosuke Kinoshita
Chase Koepka
Jinichiro Kozuma
Pablo Larrazabal
Graeme McDowell
Jediah Morgan
Kevin Na
Shaun Norris
Andy Ogletree
Louis Oosthuizen
Wade Ormsby
Adrian Otaegui
Turk Pettit
James Piot (Amateur)
Ian Poulter
David Puig (Amateur)
JC Ritchie
Charl Schwartzel
Hudson Swafford
Hideto Tanihara
Peter Uihlein
Scott Vincent
Lee Westwood
Bernd Wiesberger
Blake Windred


Phil Mickelson apologizes and announces time out

In recent weeks and months, there have been repeated rumours that players like Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau would switch to the aspired Saudi League. Mickelson, in particular, continued to fuel the discussion about a move from the PGA Tour by regularly publicly criticising the American professional tour. Now, the multiple major winner posted a lengthy statement apologising for his choice of words in the interview with Alan Shipnuck and announcing a hiatus from professional golf.

Mickelson’s Saudi Support Caused Much Criticism

For a long time it was rumoured that the Saudi League wanted to lure the big names of the PGA Tour with surreal sums of money. Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson in particular were to be the focus of the tour. DeChambeau and Johnson, however, denied a move from the PGA Tour last week. The duo announced that they would continue to compete with the world’s best on the PGA Tour. American Mickelson has already been firing against the PGA Tour in recent weeks. At Saudi International, Mickelson attributed ‘vile greed’ to PGA Tour

Recently, golf author Alan Shipnuck published an interview with Phil Mickelson, in which Mickelson allowed himself a daring choice of words. According to Shipnuck, Mickelson called the people who finance the Super Golf League “scary motherfuckers to get involved with”. Furthermore, Mickelson added that he would not be involved at all with people from a country with such a poor human rights record, but that he saw it as an opportunity to improve the PGA Tour. Big names in golf criticised Mickelson for these words. For example, Rory McIlroy calling Mickelson’s statements a “selfish statement”.

Phil Mickelson regrets choice of words

Even the long-time partner KPMG declared their partnership to be over after Phil Mickelson’s statements. Following this severe criticism, Mickelson released a lengthy statement on Tuesday afternoon. “Although it doesn’t look this way now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been with the best interest of golf, my peers, sponsors, and fans.,” the 51-year-old wrote on Twitter. In addition, Mickelson said he deeply regretted his reckless and offensive choice of words and was deeply disappointed in himself.

However, Mickelson also stressed that the alleged interview with Alan Shipnuck were “off record comments”. These had been taken out of context and published without his consent. Golf writer Alan Shipnuck reacted angrily to Mickelson’s accusation. He said that Mickelson knew he was working on a biography about him. Moreover, asked Mickelson himself for the interview to discuss media rights and his complaints about the PGA Tour. “Not once in our texts or when we got on the phone did Mickelson request to go off-the-record”, Shipnuck elaborated on TheFirePitCollective. Moreover, he said, Mickelson texted him immediately after the publication denying any of this. Shipnuck called his actions “false and duplicitous”.

Mickelson: “Desperately need some time away”

Phil Mickelson also announced in his statement that he would retire from professional golf for a while. One of the reasons for this was that he had been letting himself down lately. Furthermore, he felt the pressure and stress affecting him, especially in the last ten years. In doing so, he added that he “desperately need some time away to prioritize the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be.” Mickelson did not mention the PGA Tour in his statement.

Highlights Tours

Celebrity champions: R&A plans special event ahead of 150th British Open

The time has come again in mid-July. With the British Open in St. Andrews, golf fans are in for an exciting and thrilling week. On the occasion of this year’s 150th anniversary of the Open, the R&A is organising several special events before the top-class field of participants s tarts the official tournament.

Open week kicks off with Champions event

One of the special events kicks off on Monday of tournament week, 11 July 2022, with the Celebration of Champions seeing former Open, Women’s Major, male and female amateur and handicap winning golfers compete in a 4-hole tournament on the St Andrews Links Course. The 1st, 2nd, 17th and 18th holes will be played by a field of 48 golfers and this will also be broadcast live on

“We are bringing together the biggest names in golf with current and future stars of the sport for a unique event on the Old Course,” said Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive. In addition, Slumbers added that the R&A Celebration of Champions will be a real highlight of this special and eventful week. Among the 48 golfers, current Open champion Collin Morikawa will also be competing at the event, with the American feeling very honoured.

British Open to take centre stage in upcoming golf documentary

The 150th British Open will be the focus of the Netflix-produced golf documentary and golf fans will get to see insights about the proceedings of the anniversary week. Particularly from the pros’ point of view, there will be some footage worth watching that has not been revealed in this way before. There will be special coverage of Collin Morikawa’s mission to defend his title, but also of Major winners Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and numerous other pros. In addition, the world’s number one amateur Keita Nakajima makes his Open debut and offers the viewers interesting insights in the process.

Panorama Top Tours

The Sportswashing Spectacle Saudi International: High Time for Hypocrites

Well, there you go. At least Jason Kokrak has the guts to freely explain why he is taking part in the Saudi International. Kokrak is very open to a Super Golf League financed by the Kingdom of the Persian Gulf: “I want to make as much money as possible in as short a time as possible. Cash is king.” Blunt, unsparing, thank you! Finally someone says it. He doesn’t hide behind phrases and empty words. He does not disguise with either defiant coarseness or convoluted reasons why for millionaires money is more important than morals.

“The players take bloody money”

The fourth edition of the sports-washing spectacle called Saudi International has just begun. It takes place at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in the test-tube King Abdullah Economic City. Since 2019, this special week in the desert has become high time for hypocrites.

Every year, Dustin Johnson and his fellow players hire themselves out for horrendous entry fees as willing puppets of the Riyadh regime to add glitz and glamour to golf and wash the ugly stains of murder, human rights violations and multiple abuses off the waistcoat of Saudi Arabia’s international reputation.

“The players should be aware that they are taking bloody money,” wrote the “Washington Post” some time ago, directly affected by the murder of its employee Jamal Khashoggi*. He received attacks on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the man behind the machinations.

“Sport is always political”

Not only the pampered protagonists don’t care. Moreover, there are more helpers from the PGA and DP World Tour this year than ever before. To go far and beyond, the chorus of excuses almost becomes a cacophony. At the top of the hit list of lazy phrases is “I’m not a politician”, alternatively “I’m not here for politics, I’m here to play golf”.

As if the decision in favour of the tournament alone were not a political statement. “Sport is always political,” says Prof. Dr. Carlo Masala, Chair of International Politics at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Neubiberg. Dr. Masala explains it in the ARD documentary “Spiel mit dem Feuer – Wer braucht noch dieses Olympia?” (engl. Playing with Fire – Who Needs the Olympics?). Under this title, the former slalom star and today’s TV alpine skiing expert Felix Neureuther asked active athletes, scientists and officials on the occasion of the Winter Games in Beijing. The Winter Games 2022 begind tomorrow and they are not less controversial.

“I’ll take every advantage”

Bryson DeChambeau, for one, loves the “I’m not a politican” slogan. So does Shane Lowry, who moreover drags his family into his excuses: “I’m just trying to take care of them as best I can. This is part of that.” One almost wants to feel sorry for the Irishman who is obviously plagued by existential needs.

Even Kokrak, who incidentally has made it to a career prize money of just over $19 million so far, a million more than Lowry, sugarcoats his relentless bluntness: “I’ll take any advantage I can to give my kids a good start in life.”

“Growing the Game” At the expense of human rights

Of course, the reference to the contribution to the development of golf cannot be omitted; “Growing the Game” is number two on the scale of tried and tested euphemisms. The aforementioned Jason Kokrak has therefore let himself represent Golf Saudi as an ambassador. The media asked about his attitude to the grievances. However, Kokrak explains in all seriousness that he is not a government ambassador, so he has nothing to do with it. “I am paid to grow the game on a global level, not to represent the government or similar institutions.”

“Human rights responsibility of sport”

Are you serious? As a reply, Martin Klein, representative for international sports policy of the association “Athletes Germany”, is quoted here: “Human rights apply universally. That has little to do with politics.” And: “Being politically neutral does not mean tacitly accepting human rights violations […] and even legitimising them with this silence.” With passivity and ignorance, one “possibly makes oneself a collaborator.” Klein expressed this to Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) and others also in connection with the Olympics and the role of the IOC, but stressed the fundamental “human rights responsibility of sport”.

Rory McIlroy and the moral questions

Now some will cry again and insist that athletes do not necessarily have to be role models, and point the finger at other sports in a fine “whataboutism”. These are neither shy nor scrupulous about getting involved with questionable friends from the totalitarianism and autocracy department – see IOC and China, FIFA and Qatar or Formula 1 and Riyadh. And that such things are commonplace nowadays anyway and result hard to avoid.

Even Rory McIlroy admits the problem: “We are all long past the point where moral issues alone are the deciding factor. What you do, where you go and who you meet – aligning everything with morals and principles makes life extremely difficult,” muses the Northern Irishman. “There is not only black or white, but also a lot of shades of grey. I’ve thought about it a lot and wrestled with myself for a long time: If you only take the hard line, you will hardly be able to do what you want to do.”

How about a clear statement, then?

Nevertheless, he says no to the Saudi International and to a Super Golf League of Saudi Arabia’s dollar grace, “because I don’t like where the money comes from”. Just like the British tennis star Andy Murray, by the way, who refuses all opulent offers for show matches for the same reason. See Washington Post and “bloody money”. It works.

But if solid players like Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia or Xander Schauffele don’t have the backbone to resist the siren song of the Saudis… How about at least making a clear announcement? Why not simply address the grievances as a mature athlete?.

Formula One hero Lewis Hamilton did it during the PS circus’ recent visit to Saudi Arabia: “I don’t feel comfortable here because I really believe that everyone should have human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of movement, and this is one of the places where that is not allowed. However, unfortunately I don’t have a choice because motorsport has now chosen this scenario.”

Symbiosis of Gage and “Grow the Game”

Or – even better – actually donate part of the fee to golf development, let deeds speak instead of permanently singing the mantra that has long been used ad nauseam. “Grow the Game”: Ideally with the establishment or promotion of a training academy for girls. That would be something. As if a million or two mattered to the already saturated stars.

Didn’t Bryson DeChambeau recently say that he had enough money anyway, that he could stop playing golf and do something else that he enjoyed? We have an idea, and we’d like it to be scientific. Maybe DeChambeau didn’t do the math right this time at the Saudi International of how much harm they cause.

But no, instead the mongrels wrote the muzzle directly on their hay licence and rake in as much dough as they can get. Hush money, that is. Or: What goes around comes around.

Mickelson’s Alibi Argumentation

And then Phil Mickelson comes along yesterday and even tries to give the obvious a legal basis. He said he was looking around for other competition opportunities. Mickelson felt short-changed with regard to his media rights, the right to his own image. “It was the disgusting greed of the PGA Tour that opened the door to all the recent deviant efforts,” rants the man who is worth around 800 million dollars, not least because it was the PGA Tour that commissioned his appearances and thus made him and himself attractive to sponsors.

For decades, this was part of the deal, “Lefty” played along happily, recently even claimed the lion’s share of the popularity bonuses offered as part of the Player Impact Program – and now the self-employed entrepreneur Mickelson is stylising the Tour as an exploitative villain because all this is suddenly supposed to have a bad taste. Really? What an absurd alibi.

Lack of a compass for moderation

If the six-time major winner is so interested in personal rights, he should think hard about not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire with the Saudis. But at least he doesn’t have to worry about the rights of his wife Amy and his daughters. They certainly won’t move to Riyadh just because daddy might soon make his pockets even fuller in the Formula 1 format and will have to dance to Greg Norman’s tune. So much for crooked enemy stereotypes.

It is simply ridiculous what the professionals use to justify their greed for money. Some of them seem to have lost their compass for moderation. Or are they simply puppets of their managers who are responsible for making money?. Anyway, what can you expect from people who show solidarity with crude minds like Novak Djokovic or sympathise and party with nefarious bullies like Donald Trump.

In contrast, Lee Westwood almost becomes likeable again, who confesses with simple frankness: “If someone my age offers me 50 million dollars for a few more years of tournament golf, then I don’t rack my brains about it for long.” For this chance, the 48-year-old Englishman would even throw overboard his ambitions to be European Ryder Cup captain, “because even in the medium term I still see my future on rather than off the fairways”.

Watson and the definition of “bi-God”

Bubba Watson’s drivel, on the other hand, is downright unbearable. He travels to Saudi Arabia in order to enjoy God’s beautiful creation in this corner of the world, the professed Christian babbles. The only question is whether this also includes the rubble with which adulterers or homosexuals are stoned to death in the name of Sharia law. The man from Baghdad – in Florida – is so religious that his spirit and his sanctimonious claptrap are enough for two deities: the All-Father above in heaven and the idol Mammon here on earth. Bi-god, that is.

For Bubba, who is a Bible-believer, the Old Testament was obviously not enough. He would do well to read the part of the “Exodus” in the Second Book of Moses that deals with Moses’ wrath and Yahweh’s retribution because the people strayed from the right path and danced around the golden calf at the brightly blazing fire (fed by oil?).

To conclude with the end of Giovanni Trapattoni’s famous rage speech: Habe fertig! (engl: I am finished)


*Saudi Arabian “Washington Post” journalist Jamal Khashoggi, critical of the regime, was executed and his body dismembered by a hit squad in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul embassy on 2nd October 2018. According to findings by the US Foreign Intelligence Agency (CIA), the murder order came directly from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

PGA Tour

Dustin Johnson: “There’s definitely some trouble off the tees, but if you’re driving it well,you can definitely make some birdies.”


August 18, 2021

Dustin Johnson

Jersey City, New Jersey, USA

Liberty National Golf Club
Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome Dustin Johnson to the interview room here at the Northern Trust. Dustin, obviously, the defending champion winning at TPC Boston, but also the defending FedExCup champion.

Dustin, entering the playoffs 17th in the standings. Last year before your run, you entered 15th, so definitely in a similar position there. I guess just starting out how is the game feeling this year compared to this time last year when you made your run for the FedExCup?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Obviously, last year was a little bit different because a lot of golf tournaments leading right up into the playoffs. I feel like the game is starting to round into form. I’m starting to in the last couple of events definitely played a little bit better, played a little bit — it’s a lot closer to what it was last year.

Yeah, I’m looking forward to the playoffs. I feel like I’m in a good spot. Obviously, need a good couple of weeks here, first and foremost here at the Northern Trust, and then next week at the BMW just to improve my position going into Atlanta.

Q. Dustin, you just finished your Pro-Am from this morning and then obviously went right to the range. Just curious about how you think Liberty National is playing so far and what stood out to you so far.

DUSTIN JOHNSON: The golf course is in really good shape, perfect condition. Greens are really good. Fairways, everything. It’s in perfect shape. It’s one of those golf courses — you know, there’s definitely some trouble off the tees, but if you’re driving it well, you can get it in the fairway, you can definitely make some birdies. It kind of all depends on the wind.

It’s going to play fairly long because it’s soft. Last time we were here, it was so firm it played actually really short, but it’s pretty soft out there. So it played fairly long. Got to take advantage of the par-5s and got a couple short par-4s that you know you’ve got to get some good looks on.

I feel like the course all in all is in perfect condition and shaping up to be a good week.

Q. Just curious, are you completely healthy?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I am. I’m feeling good.

Q. As you look back to last year, could you have predicted the run you went on, which was nearly sweeping all three of them except for one monster putt. Could you have predicted that going into Northern Trust last year?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: No, but I don’t look that far ahead, so I would have never predicted it. I was playing well, so it wasn’t a surprise because I felt like I was playing good coming into it. Obviously, two different courses for Northern Trust was Olympia Fields. One was soft, the other was really firm and fast, but I was playing really good golf.

I liked all the courses, and then obviously Atlanta is very difficult. Yeah, I mean, definitely couldn’t have predicted that, but obviously I felt really good about the game.

Q. Didn’t shock you, in other words?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: No, it didn’t. Nothing really shocks me anymore.

Q. And I know you haven’t had a good answer to this before and I’m actually not expecting one now, but last year when you had the double rounds of 80s and another one in Minnesota and you withdraw, and then all of a sudden you come back and it’s like you’re a brand new person from the PGA and onward. Is it that easy for you to just flip the switch?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yes, it is. As far as why, I can’t tell you why. For me, obviously, I know I’m a good player. I’ve been a really good player for a long time. So playing a few bad rounds doesn’t really bother me too much. Obviously, I know I need to go work on some things, which is what I did.

Any time, no matter how bad I’m playing, it only takes one shot here or one shot there where I get a nice feel and it turns everything around.

Q. Dustin, you got qualified for your fifth Ryder Cup team. I’m curious, when you think of guys who have excelled in that kind of event, whether they be Europeans, Poulter or Sergio, or American guys, what are the qualities of players who seem to excel in the Ryder Cup? What does it take to play well that week?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Golf, as we all know, is a very frustrating and difficult game, but the Ryder Cup, it’s match play. It’s a lot different because you know you’re not out there just playing for yourself. You’re playing for, obviously, your teammates, your captains, your country. So it’s a little bit different of feelings out there.

But as far as why people play good and some don’t, it’s a golf tournament pretty much. So we’re out there playing golf. It’s whichever guys have their game that week are the ones that are going to play well and win their matches. You’ve got to get a little lucky too because sometimes if you’re playing every match or four matches, most likely you’re going to be a little bit off in one of them, and that’s the one where you need, obviously, a little help from the other side.

Q. You’ve played in every possible scenario that is possible in this game. How do the nerves of the 1st tee of a Ryder Cup compare to anything else in golf?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: It’s definitely different. My first Ryder Cup, I still remember the tee shot at Wales. It’s a completely different feeling. It’s something you’ve never felt before, at least something that I never felt before sitting on that 1st tee, especially the fans over there singing, and the it cold and wet, windy, wasn’t ideal conditions to hit a nice tee shot for your first Ryder Cup.

It’s a lot of fun, though. You’ve just got to embrace it and enjoy it and enjoy the week.

Q. What was your level of disappointment in not shooting 60 last year at the Northern Trust? Breaking 60, I mean.

DUSTIN JOHNSON: None really. Obviously, I wanted to shoot 59, but I’ll still take 60 any day of the week.

Q. Is that the best four rounds that you’ve ever strung together?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean four rounds in a row, I was pretty flawless golf for the most part. But, yeah, but four days in a row, yeah, it’s kind of hard to beat that for me.

Q. Question for you on Collin Morikawa. Can you remember the first time you played with him or heard about him that you thought this guy’s really legit?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I played with him — I saw him play a little bit, I guess it was two years ago. Obviously, didn’t play with him, I don’t think, until last year maybe, but he’s with TaylorMade so I got to see him a little bit, but obviously I knew he was a good player.

At the beginning, you can never really tell how good of a player someone is, but I knew he was a really good, young, talented player.

Q. Jordan Spieth isn’t locked in yet for the Ryder Cup team, but what difference does it make that probably a year ago, if they’d have had the Ryder Cup when it was originally scheduled, he would not have been on the team, and now he looks to be pretty much a lock?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: What’s the question?

Q. How big a difference is it to have him on the American side in this Ryder Cup?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Obviously, he’s playing really well this year, had a great season, turned it around a good bit. So, yeah, he’s obviously somebody we want on the team, especially when he’s playing as well as he is right now. Yeah, it’s definitely good to have Jordan on the team.

Q. Going to make the mistake of tapping your memory here. I’m curious, I was wondering when’s the last time you felt a sense of urgency for anything? By the way, you were, I think, 117 in FedExCup in 2008, your first year. Do you have any recollection of that?


Q. Oh, good.

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I actually remember on the 36th hole, I had like about a four-footer to make the cut on the number, which would have gotten me into the next week. My card would have been — because that was back then it went to 125 for the second playoff event.

And I horseshoed it, and I missed the cut, obviously didn’t make it into the top 125. Back then, we also had the fall season to go where you could make 125 on the money list. So I had three weeks off and went home and worked on the game really hard and obviously came out and won the first event at Turning Stone.

Q. Back to kind of my original question, I guess, if there was one, do you recall the last time you had a sense of urgency about anything, about playing, about needing a good result or something like that?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, yeah, I always need a good result. For me, every week I come here playing I want to put myself in position to win. Obviously, it’s the playoffs. It’s definitely a sense of urgency to play well and contend for the championship.

Q. If you’d have been told in January that we’re in August you and still haven’t won on the PGA TOUR, what would have been your reaction to that?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I would have said I was probably struggling (Laughter).

Q. Surprised? Disappointed? Anything?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: No, it just is what it is. It’s golf. It happens. Like I said, the game is definitely starting to take a turn for the better, starting to see a lot more consistency in the shots and in my game. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to the next few weeks.

Q. My question is a pretty simple one. You’ve been in a lot of Ryder Cups. How important is it for the team to get along and be friendly with each other while you’re there in terms of going out and playing well?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, all the guys out here, we’re all — especially it doesn’t matter what our differences are. When you get to the Ryder Cup and you’re on the team, it’s not just about you. So we’re all adults, and we gather as a team and as a whole for that week, so I don’t feel like there’s any issues with that.

Like I said, we’re not just playing for ourselves, we’re playing for our country. You’ve got other teammates, your captains, your family, all the fans that are there. It’s definitely important that everyone comes together and plays as a team.

Q. Do you think the American team has been good at that while you’ve been a player?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I think so. I think we’ve done a good job. This year I think it’s shaping up that we’re going to have a pretty stout team. So I’m looking forward to it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Highlights Tours

Dustin Johnson: “The Open…, you want to hit greens. Where you get in trouble is when you miss greens”

Q. Joined by Dustin Johnson. Dustin, how would you rate your performance today?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I thought I played very solid. Got off to a nice start. Struggled a little bit on 7, 8, and 9. Kind of gave a few shots away there. Other than that, played really well.

Didn’t get up and down on 7 and made bogey on 8 and 9 from the fairway, which you just can’t do. Other than that, I think it was a really solid day and I’m pleased with my performance.

Q. Important to build that momentum going into the latter part of The Championship?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah. I mean, obviously you want to get off to a good start. The course is fairly receptive. You can drive it in the fairway and definitely make some birdies. Obviously there is a few holes where you’ll take par every single time and keep on going.

There is definitely opportunities out there, and I just need to — if I keep driving it well I’m going to play well.

Q. You had 14 greens in regulation today over the 18. How important was that for such a solid round?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, out here especially playing The Open, you want to hit greens. Where you get in trouble is when you miss greens.

So I feel like especially — it’s definitely a bit of wind out there today. It didn’t play easy, but it was scorable if you were in the fairway. That’s what I feel like I did a good job of, is hitting it in the fairway and after that hitting the greens.

Q. With the weather conditions relatively consistent over the weekend, do you feel that it suits you and maybe you have a strong chance of contending?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah. I mean, if I keep playing the way I am, absolutely. I feel like obviously I want to — need to go out and shoot another solid score tomorrow. If we keep these conditions obviously the course will continue to get a little bit firmer, play a little bit more tricky.

But like I said, if you can drive it in the fairway the course — you can attack the golf course. The rough is pretty penal and obviously the bunkers are always penal.

Interview transcript by

European Tour

European Tour: DJ ready to rock in Saudi

World Number One Dustin Johnson is excited to get started at the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, as the American targets a second title at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, a maiden victory of 2021 and a seventh successive winning season.

The 36-year-old won the inaugural Saudi International two years ago and finished runner-up to Graeme McDowell on his title defence in 2020, so he is brimming with confidence heading into his second event of the season and first on the Race to Dubai.

Patrick Reed, meanwhile, arrives in Saudi Arabia in flying form having sealed a five-stroke victory last week at the PGA TOUR’s Farmers Insurance Open. The World Number Ten is yet to win in the Middle East but a top three finish at last December’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai will give him confidence of a maiden regular European Tour win.

Phil Mickelson finished in a share of third place at last year’s Saudi International and the 50-year-old is a fan of the layout at Royal Greens, as is Norwegian star Viktor Hovland – whose runner-up finish in Florida last week elevated him to a career-high 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

What the players are saying…

Dustin Johnson: “It’s a golf course that I thought set up well for me. I like the golf course. It’s a fun course to play. Obviously I’ve had success here the last two years and I enjoy it. It’s been a great week. I think they do a great job hosting this event, and obviously this year, we’ve got a great field. I was excited to come back.

“It’s a golf course where you have to drive it well. I mean, you have got a lot of slope in them so you need to be able to control your ball coming into it. But if you drive it well, you can definitely make a lot of birdies just because you can get some short clubs in your hand.

“But I think it’s very important to drive it well here, especially with the rough. Got quite a bit of rough. But there are only two par fives – if you drive it in the fairway, you can reach them, and there are quite a few short holes. Like I said, you’ve got to drive it well, and felt like I drove it well here the last couple years and that’s why I’ve had success.”

Patrick Reed: “It’s awesome to come over here. The support that this event has and the support that Saudi has given the players, as well as just the Tour, is amazing. For us, coming over and playing and having a golf course that’s continuously gotten better and better each year, and the hospitality is amazing. It’s one of these places you really look forward to coming to and playing.

“For me, it’s always fun coming over and playing on The European Tour. Get away from my comfort zone at home. Now being able to come over, it’s almost making me feel comfortable coming over and play on The European Tour. It’s one of these things that I call my second home, and to be able to come over and play and support both tours for me means a lot.”

Phil Mickelson: “I think that it’s really a fun golf course to play. I enjoyed it last year. Condition is a 10 out of 10. I don’t think you can get it anymore approximately manicured and set up for an event.

“So it’s very impressive the way the golf course is conditioned, the way it plays. It’s really a fun challenge and when the wind comes up, it’s very playable. I just really enjoy the golf course and enjoy playing here.”

Viktor Hovland: “It’s been a long trip obviously but I’m glad to be over here. I had a good week last week in San Diego. And just trying to look to continue to build on that. I feel like my game is in great shape and I’ve just got to get adjusted and get ready to start off the week.

“It’s fairly generous off the tee but you still have to drive it pretty well just to get into some good spots where you can be aggressive. I feel like the scores are going to be pretty low this week. The greens are really good. So if you’re hitting the ball close, you can make a lot of putts and make a lot of birdies.

“But the wind picks up at all, it’s going to be interesting. A couple of par threes are pretty solid and some water here and there, as well. So you’ve got to be conservative maybe on some holes and you can attack more on others.”                                                                

Highlights Tours

Dustin Johnson: “As a kid I always dreamed about being a Masters-Champion”

Question: Why is this so meaningful to you?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, just growing up so close to here, it’s always been a tournament that since I’ve been on Tour, since I played my first Masters, it’s been the tournament I wanted to win the most. You know, being close the last couple years, finishing second last year to Tiger, this one was just something that I really wanted to do.
Obviously starting today with a four shot lead, you know, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew I was going to have to play well if I wanted to win, and you know, still, played probably better than especially from really 7 into the clubhouse, I played really, really solid. Hit a lot of great shots.
But it was still hard. I mean, I was nervous all day, but I felt like I controlled myself very well. Controlled the golf ball very well in difficult conditions. I felt like the wind was really tricky. The
course, the greens were a little bit faster. Felt like you really had to be careful around here today.

Q: On 7, did you do what you were trying to do? Were you trying to hit into that front bunker?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I was. I didn’t have a shot. I was just in the right first cut, the tree limbs there. I was trying to run it up in between the bunkers, but if I was going to favor one side, it
was the left bunker. Hit a really good shot right in the front bunker where I wanted to and made a really easy 4.

Brother support given

Q. Austin said that on 18, as you’re walking up, he asked you where you stood. Did you not know?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I did not. Not exactly. I mean, I assumed I had the lead, but I didn’t know by how many. I mean, that was kind of my goal. I kind of looked at the leaderboard a little bit early, and after that, I just, you know, told myself, don’t worry about what anybody’s doing. Just play as good as you can.
You know, so I didn’t look at the leaderboard at all from probably 7, 7 on. I tried not to. I just tried to play my game. When I felt comfortable with the wind and the number that I had, I would
play aggressive. If not, I would try to play just to the fatter side of the green, and pars are a good score on a lot of these holes, especially when you’re 9, 10, 11, 12, take par all day on those holes, especially with the wind, the way it was blowing today.

Q. Did you have that attitude because you knew if you played well, a 68 would get it done today no matter what anybody else did?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I did. I knew if I played well, especially from 8 to the house, that I was going to put myself in a good position and have a chance to win. I just didn’t want that to affect the way that I played. I just didn’t look at it. I played I took what the course gave me and hit the shots I felt I could hit.

Q. Could you speak to your growing relationship with your brother and what it means to win when he’s by your side?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: It’s unbelievable having my brother on my bag. You know, but he’s a big help, too. He does he reads the greens a lot for me. He does a great job reading them. I read them, too, myself, but I like to he definitely helps. He’s really good at it. I just love experiencing all these moments with him. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Q. What’s the sleeve size?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Jacket size? 42 long.

Photo: Getty

Q. And was there any extra special meaning, the fact that Tiger put that jacket on you?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yes. But I mean yeah, obviously having Tiger put it on was awesome and unbelievable and, you know, you couldn’t you wouldn’t want it any other way.
But any guy could put it on me and I’d be just fine (laughter).

Q. You won THE TOUR Championship in September and now you’ve won the year’s last major in November. It’s been a strange season. Can you compare how that moment and this moment, maybe each felt like the end of a season?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, for me, we don’t really have an end of the season because there’s just so many golf tournaments and we play pretty much all year long.
But you know, winning the FedExCup was huge. It was something that I really wanted to do in my career. And then obviously coming here and winning Augusta was probably is on the very top of the list for sure.
I know 2020 has been a really strange year, but it’s been good to me. I’ve played some good golf. You know, I can’t thank Augusta enough for just having the Masters. Obviously when it canceled in April, none of us knew if we were going to be able to play in it.
I was just happy to be here playing, and it worked out okay for me.

Q. The emotion you showed in those interviews right after winning, is that more of the man the public has not seen over the years? You’re so calm and even keel out on the course.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Absolutely. On the golf course, I’m pretty good at controlling my emotions, you know, because I’m out playing golf.
But yeah, I had a tough time there speaking with Amanda on the putting green. Just because it like I said, it means so much to me. It means so much to my family, Paulina, the kids. They know it’s something that I’ve always been dreaming about and it’s why I work so hard. You know, I put in a lot of work off the golf course, on the golf course, and I think it’s just you know, it’s something that you push yourself for. That’s why I work so hard is to be in this position. And you know, to finally have the dream come true, I think that’s why you see all that emotion.

Q. First, sitting in that hotel room in Vegas a month ago or so, you had a lot of time to think. Did you ever think that maybe this chance was slipping away a little bit while you were in quarantine?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No, I didn’t. That never I knew I was going to play the Masters for sure, so that was a bonus, because I had already, you know, had gotten COVID and had to quarantine. So I knew there was no chance of me missing the Masters, so that kind of gave me a little bit more of a drive to practice.
I knew I was playing well. Granted, you sit in the hotel room for two weeks, it doesn’t do a lot for the golf game. But I put a lot of work in last week at Houston, and this week. Fortunate that I
was able to keep the game in good form, and played well last week in Houston, even though I didn’t if you had asked me on Wednesday what was going to happen, I probably would have
told you I was going to miss the cut and I would be here at Augusta practicing because I really had not played much, and even through my first few days of practice, things weren’t going very well.
But ended up working out okay for me there. And then coming into this week, I had had some rounds, and that was the reason I was playing there was just to get some more reps in tournament conditions it. Really helped out this week.

Dustin Johnson: “I wanna win a lot of Majors”

Q. You talked about dreaming of winning the Masters. Do you also dream of winning seven, eight, nine majors?

Q. Do you have a specific number?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I want to get to No. 3 first, but I do. I dream of winning a lot of majors.
Just hadn’t quite happened yet. Hopefully this one will help, though, give me a little spring.

Q. The weekend seemed pretty laid back on the course. Did you feel like not having Patrons helped you or did it hurt you as you were playing the last two rounds?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, I like the Patrons. I think they bring a lot of excitement and a lot of, you know it just they make the Masters, really.
But I would say if I had to say one way or the other, probably made it a little easier to get it done today without having all the fans or however many thousands that are here. But for me, all the tournaments we’ve played this year and the ones that I’ve won, looking back to before when we had fans, I mean, I feel the same way, whether the fans are here or not. I like having them here. They bring excitement, especially when they are cheering for you, they can pull you along. I miss them, and hopefully we get to see them in April.