In the absence of confirmed, concrete dollar figures — which are probably unknowable thanks to certain legal maneuvers — rumors are swirling about the lavish lengths to which the proprietors of a Saudi-backed Super Golf League are willing to go in order to lure a big fish from the PGA Tour pond.
And as with many big-fish stories, it’s proving difficult to separate fact from fiction. To wit, the UK’s Daily Mail on Thursday reported that polarizing American star Bryson DeChambeau had been offered north of $135 million to become “the face of the Saudi golf revolution,” a jaw-dropping haul the 28-year-old seemed to refute later in the day via his Instagram account.
“Wrong,” DeChambeau replied to a post from the viral video and meme factory known as @BreezyGolf.
Of course, that one-word denial likely won’t be expounded upon any time soon. Not with DeChambeau — who cited left hand and left hip injuries when he abruptly withdrew from the Asian Tour’s Saudi International after a first-round 73 on Thursday — continuing to carry out a months-long grudge against the print media during which he has steadfastly refused to sit for press conferences.
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Here are some more details about the deal that’s reportedly on the table for DeChambeau:
- A tip of the cap to Golf Digest for putting the dollar amount in perspective. The $135 million reportedly offered to DeChambeau is $14 million more than Tiger Woods has amassed in career earnings. Since DeChambeau turned pro in 2016 he has earned roughly $26 million — good for 61st on the Tour’s all-time money list.
- Confirming what most suspected after Dustin Johnson could hardly contain a laugh when asked whether he received an offer in the neighborhood of the $30 million reportedly offered by the SGL to the likes of Ian Poulter, the Daily Mail wrote: “players in their prime are being targeted with sums that dwarf the [$27.2 million] offered to others.”
- “They are talking to players that I never thought in a million years would be tempted,” a source told the Daily Mail. “The money being spoken about is difficult to get your head around. The veterans who have basically had their careers, many would consider it a no-brainer if they joined. But when the Saudis finally make an announcement, people are going to be surprised by one or two names on there.”
Would Bryson (Or Another Marquee Name) Really Bolt?
That’s the question the Tour must reckon with now that a young major champion is reportedly being propositioned to this extent. And that’s on the heels of some incendiary comments from Phil Mickelson that seemed to confirm his interest in a defection despite the threat of a lifelong ban from PGA Tour competition.
Mickelson, a six-time major champion who on Wednesday excoriated the Tour for its “obnoxious” level of greed, would appear to have little to lose by participating in such a gambit. DeChambeau, on the other hand, could still be years away from the end of his prime.
— robmillertime (@robmillertime) February 3, 2022
Sure, DeChambeau can be fun to root against. But he’s made strides to repair his image in the months since he played a key role in the Americans’ Ryder Cup rout. He doesn’t lack for sponsors — and never misses an opportunity to mention them. Would he really jeopardize his earning potential on his home soil for a splinter tour that as of yet doesn’t technically exist?
But apart from the individual decisions that await some of the sport’s marquee names, it may be time for the Tour to do a bit of soul-searching as this threat becomes more and more real. CBS golf writer Kyle Porter offered an apt — and timely — analogy ahead of next weekend’s Super Bowl.
I feel like we are understating how preposterous it is that Bryson and Phil could possibly join the SGL. It would be like Joe Burrow and Tom Brady signing with a South American football league funded by the financial arm of the Colombian government. Imagine that happening!
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) February 3, 2022
“I feel like we are understating how preposterous it is that Bryson and Phil could possibly join the SGL,” Porter tweeted. “It would be like Joe Burrow and Tom Brady signing with a South American football league funded by the financial arm of the Colombian government. Imagine that happening!”