Golf: McIlroy says breakaway league 'dead in water' after Johnson, DeChambeau commit to PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy's comment comes after several other top-ranked players have turned down the Super Golf League project. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy said on Sunday (Feb 20) that the Saudi-funded breakaway league hoping to rival the PGA Tour was "dead in the water" after former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau committed to the American-based circuit.

Johnson, DeChambeau and several other top-ranked players have turned down the Super Golf League (SGL) project, which is being spearheaded by former world No. 1 Greg Norman.

"Who's left? Who's left to go? I mean, there's no one. It's dead in the water in my opinion. Yeah, I just can't see any reason why anyone would go," McIlroy said.

"No one really knew where Bryson stood. I was really glad to see DJ and Bryson put out those statements this week. We all want to play against the best players in the world and they're certainly two of the best players in the world."

Johnson, a two-time Major champion and 24-time Tour winner, released a statement through the PGA Tour.

“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,” read the statement.

“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.”

DeChambeau, an eight-time Tour winner (including the 2020 US Open), released his own statement on Twitter later on Sunday. 

“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.”

Johnson, 37, and DeChambeau, 28, join a growing list of top players who have said they are not leaving the PGA Tour, including Tiger Woods, McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

McIlroy also criticised comments made by Phil Mickelson about the breakaway competition in an interview which took place in November but was only just published on the website.

The six-time Major champion described the Saudi regime as "scary", and added he was only using the threat of the SGL as leverage to prise more concessions out of the PGA Tour.

"I don't want to kick someone while he's down obviously, but I thought they were naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant," said the 32-year-old Northern Irishman.

"A lot of words to describe that interaction he had. 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."

Players who sign up for the breakaway competition face potential bans from the PGA Tour and European-based DP World Tour, as well as the Ryder Cup.

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