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LIV Golf Invitational Series: Dustin Johnson crowned individual champion, earns $18m prize

Dustin Johnson holds unassailable lead over closest challengers Branden Grace and Patrick Reed heading into LIV Golf Invitational event in Jeddah, the last regular tournament in the inaugural season of the Saudi-backed circuit

Dustin Johnson tosses his ball to his caddie on the 15th green during the final round of the LIV Golf Invitational-Chicago tournament Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Sugar Hill, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Image: Dustin Johnson has been confirmed as the inaugural LIV Golf Individual Champion

Former Masters champion Dustin Johnson has been crowned the inaugural LIV Golf Individual Champion with an event to spare, securing the $18m (£16.25m) first prize.

Johnson has featured in all six events of the Saudi-backed circuit since his switch from the PGA Tour in June, finishing inside the top 10 in the first five tournaments before claiming 16th place at the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok on Sunday.

The three points earned in Thailand took Johnson to 121 points in the season-long competition, giving Johnson - who won the LIV Golf Invitational Boston last month - an unassailable 42-point advantage over nearest challenger Branden Grace.

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Dustin Johnson believes it is fair that LIV Tour players should earn official world ranking points but does not expect retrospective points from earlier events this season

The winner of each event earns 40 points, meaning Johnson will end the regular season in top spot regardless of his performance at the LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah this weekend.

"Locking up the individual competition is big. It's an honour to be LIV's first individual season champion," Johnson said. "I'd like to thank Greg Norman and LIV for their confidence in me, my brother and caddie Austin, my wife Paulina, my 4 Aces team-mates Pat [Perez], Patrick [Reed], and Talor [Gooch], as well as LIV's growing legion of fans around the world.

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Phil Mickelson is happy to have full support from LIV Golf over their partnership with the MENA Tour and pursuit of world ranking points

"Our team is in a really good position with two events to go and I'm looking forward to further contributing to LIV Golf's exciting story and continued growth."

Runner-up in the final individual standings earns $8m (£7.2m) and $4m (£3.6m) will be awarded to the golfer in third place, with plenty of players still in contention for the bonus pay-outs heading into the Jeddah event.

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"The first chapter of LIV Golf's history could not be written without Dustin Johnson's name," said LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman. "By any measure, DJ is among the elite players in the world.

"From the start, he's been a LIV Golf cornerstone. He has more than lived up to his billing and he deserves immense credit for clinching LIV's first individual season title. We look forward to a celebration befitting such a champion in Miami at the end of October."

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Branden Grace has defended his involvement in LIV Golf, stating it is only going to get 'bigger and better'

Grace occupies second spot with 79 points but is an injury doubt for the Saudi Arabia event, having withdrawn mid-tournament when holding a share of the lead during last week's event, with Patrick Reed three points back in third.

Inaugural LIV Golf winner Charl Schwartzel (55), Matthew Wolff (50) and Louis Oosthuizen (49) are among the players still chasing a top-three finish, while Sergio Garcia (44), Joaquin Niemann (42) and Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra (41) can still end the season in the pay-out places.

The final event of 2022 is the season-ending LIV Golf Team Championship at Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami from October 28-30 - the Blue Monster course will stage a knockout tournament featuring both match play and stroke play.

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