Golf: Bubba Watson reportedly set to join LIV, Cantlay denies departure rumours

Bubba Watson reportedly will serve as a captain on one of LIV's four-man teams. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Bubba Watson is reportedly set to become the latest player to leave the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf.

The United Kingdom-based Telegraph newspaper reported that the two-time Masters Champion will make his LIV Golf debut at a tournament to be played in the first weekend in September at The International in Bolton, Massachusetts, outside Boston.

Watson, 43, reportedly will serve as a captain on one of LIV's four-man teams.

Watson has not been active since late May when he contended early at the PGA Championship but ended up finishing tied for 30th.

He then disclosed that he has a torn meniscus.

Watson joins several other Masters champions now playing for LIV Golf, including Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson.

LIV Golf now boasts winners of nine of the last 19 Masters tournaments.

Before the alleged move, Watson commented on his interest in LIV Golf despite the controversial nature surrounding its Saudi backers.

"They're trying to change," Watson said.

"They started with women's golf, started supporting the women's golf (through a series of events on the Ladies European Tour) and then they started supporting men's golf.

"There's women's tournaments already that they sponsor. Trying to grow the game. They're trying to change industry over there, bring golf, bring tourism to Saudi Arabia with the beautiful beaches that they already have."

LIV Golf is holding eight tournaments with US$255 million (S$352.6 million) in prize money this year, its inaugural season.

Next year it will expand to 14 events with US$405 million in prize money.

Watson also commented on the financial aspect of the new league. LIV Golf, which is bankrolled by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, has lured players such as Johnson, Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka with deals reportedly worth more than US$100 million each.

"Again, you know, the charity dollars is what's most important, so the more money I can get in my hands, the more I can give away," he said.

"So it's an honour and a privilege if (the PGA Tour) let me go over there and play."

The PGA Tour suspended players who have signed on with LIV Golf, while some have just quit the United States-based tour.

Meanwhile, world No. 4 Patrick Cantlay said on Wednesday (July 27) that he has no plans "at the moment" to leave for the upstart LIV Golf Series when this PGA Tour season concludes.

Cantlay, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, made the comments ahead of the Rocket Mortgage Classic tournament in Detroit.

Cantlay, 30, was first asked if he was upset by the rumours linking him to the LIV Golf tour.

"Not really," Cantlay said. "I don't take too much stock in outside noise."

He was then asked if he'd like to dispel rumours about him leaving for LIV after the FedExCup.

"Right, I don't have any plans at the moment to leave after the FedExCup," Cantlay responded.

He was also asked to what degree money is as a motivating factor when determining events to play.

"Yeah, I think anytime anyone's playing their profession, money's a big contributing motivator," he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.