Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson on Friday became the latest big name to join the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
The American, who collected green jackets in 2012 and 2014, has 12 wins on the PGA Tour and reached a career-high second in the world rankings. The 43-year-old will serve as a non-playing team captain at LIV’s event in Boston in early September as he continues to recover from a torn meniscus.
“Bubba Watson is a tremendous addition to LIV Golf – another major champion joining the growing list of stars on our teams,” said LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.
“His game combines the power, innovation, and excitement that the LIV Golf brand represents.”
The breakaway league has attracted many of golf’s top players on multi-million dollar deals, including six-times major winner Phil Mickelson and former world number ones Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.
The U.S.-based PGA Tour has suspended members who opted to join the circuit and said anyone else who makes the jump will face the same fate, something Watson appeared to recognize in a social media post on Friday.
“I couldn’t make this move without acknowledging that I am forever grateful for the opportunities provided to me through the PGA Tour and for the many friendships made along the way,” Watson said.
Critics of the new series say it amounts to ‘sportswashing’ by Saudi Arabia — a nation trying to improve its reputation in light of its history of human rights abuses, including the killing of U.S.-based Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
In the past, Watson has said Saudi Arabia is “trying to change,” and noted the country’s support for women’s golf tournaments.
LIV’s third event is taking place at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster and has attracted protests from 9/11 survivors and victims’ families, who criticized the golfers for their willingness to play in the league and the former president for hosting the event.
The individual winner of the three-day, no cut, 54-hole tournament gets $4 million from a $25 million purse.
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