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Saudi Golf League: Rory McIlroy says breakaway is 'dead in the water' after Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau commit to PGA Tour

Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau join several high-profile players, including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka in opting against joining the proposed Saudi Golf League, spearheaded by Greg Norman

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Rory McIlroy said the proposed Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway golf league was 'dead in the water' after Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau committed to the PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy said the proposed Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway golf league was "dead in the water" after Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau committed to the PGA Tour.

Several high-profile players including McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka joined Johnson and DeChambeau in their opposition of the contentious Saudi plans, spearheaded by Greg Norman.

Asked following his final round of the Genesis Invitational if the threat of a breakaway league was over, McIlroy said: "Yeah, yeah. Who's left? Who's left to go?

"I mean, there's no one. It's dead in the water in my opinion. I just can't any reason why anyone would go."

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland study his play on the 13th fairway during third round of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Image: McIlroy was left distinctly unimpressed by Phil Mickelson's recent comments

Asked about Mickelson's comments, McIlroy added: "I don't want to kick someone while he's down obviously, but I thought they were naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant.

"It was just very surprising and disappointing, sad. I'm sure he's sitting at home sort of rethinking his position and where he goes from here."

However, in an excerpt from Alan Shipnuck's upcoming book, titled 'Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf's Most Colorful Superstar', 51-year-old Mickelson claims the new league is an attempt at "sportswashing" by the Saudi regime.

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Johnson and DeChambeau have snubbed the Saudi Super Golf League

Johnson was among a number of leading golfers, along with fellow Americans DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Xander Schauffele to play at the Saudi International.

Ahead of that event, Mickelson accused the PGA Tour of "obnoxious greed" and leading players to look towards other opportunities.

Two-time major winner Johnson described the proposed breakaway competition as a "really good concept" ahead of the Saudi International, the flagship event on the Asian Tour, earlier in February.

However, in a statement released by the PGA Tour on Sunday, Johnson said: "Over the past several months, there has been a great deal of speculation about an alternative tour; much of which seems to have included me and my future in professional golf.

"I feel it is now time to put such speculation to rest. I am fully committed to the PGA Tour.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to play on the best tour in the world and for all it has provided me and my family.

"While there will always be areas where our Tour can improve and evolve, I am thankful for our leadership and the many sponsors who make the PGA Tour golf's premier tour."

Bryson DeChambeau on the 11th hole of the North Course at Torrey Pines during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open
Image: Bryson DeChambeau was rumoured to be one of the prominent golfers joining the Saudi Golf League

Hours later, DeChambeau wrote on his official Twitter account: "While there has been a lot of speculation surrounding my support for another tour, I want to make it very clear that as long as the best players in the world are playing the PGA Tour, so will I.

"As of now, I am focused on getting myself healthy and competing again soon. I appreciate all the support."

DeChambeau withdrew from the Saudi International after an opening 73 earlier this month, citing hand and hip injuries.

Johnson made the announcement two days after he missed the cut in the Genesis Invitational - his second PGA Tour appearance of 2022.

'Players are coming to their senses'

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Golf writer Doug Ferguson joined Nick Dougherty to discuss the proposed Saudi Golf League and whether it will be a threat to the PGA Tour

Nick Dougherty believes Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau have delivered potentially fatal blows to the prospects of a breakaway golf league.

"Hard facts were something that were quite hard to come by with some of the stuff regarding the Saudi Golf League," said Dougherty.

"It was a lot of speculation and rumour but they were punting towards De Chambeau potentially being the headline, the poster boy of that league.

"That's high impact [DeChambeau committing to the PGA Tour], as is Dustin Johnson. That follows on the back of Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm, the current world No 1, pledging fealty to the PGA Tour."

Former PGA champion Rich Beem added: "Slowly but surely, players are coming to their senses a little bit and saying, 'You know what, the backlash from that other tour isn't really worth it. Let's go ahead and make the PGA Tour a better place to play. Maybe we can come together on a few things but I look at where everybody is at player-wise.'

"I like what they're doing. They've said, 'We've got to come together.'"

Beem: Mickelson not making sense with Saudi super league views

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Rich Beem says Phil Mickelson's attempts to change the PGA Tour by considering the proposed Saudi tour do not make sense

Former PGA champion Rich Beem says Mickelson's latest comments about the Saudi Golf League are "confusing" and that he is going to lose support in the locker room and make enemies if he continues down the same path...

I found it really interesting what Phil Mickelson reportedly said, basically calling out Saudi Arabia and saying it's sports-washing, and then saying that I am really doing this in order to leverage what we can do better on the PGA Tour.

Why go about this in a completely roundabout way and make it so controversial? Why not rally the players, explain to every player how the media rights work on the PGA Tour and the other monies you can get from owning your own social media rights and rally together as a unit rather than going to Saudi Arabia and causing all this? It doesn't make sense to me.

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