Journal De Bruxelles - Former US Open champion DeChambeau joins Saudi-backed rebel series

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Former US Open champion DeChambeau joins Saudi-backed rebel series
Former US Open champion DeChambeau joins Saudi-backed rebel series / Photo: Michael Reaves - GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Former US Open champion DeChambeau joins Saudi-backed rebel series

Former US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau has become the latest star to sign up to the rebel LIV Golf series, the organisers announced on Friday.

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The 28-year-old American joins a clutch of fellow major winners including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in joining the breakaway circuit, which is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund.

His unveiling, during the second round of the $25 million inaugural event near London, came 24 hours after the US PGA Tour said any members who joined the rival series would be banned.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, who is expected to sign more players ahead of the second event in Portland, Oregon, starting on June 30, welcomed the signing of the 2020 US Open champion.

"Bryson DeChambeau is an exciting addition to LIV Golf's supercharged style of play," he said.

"He is passionate about the sport, innovative in his approach and committed to pushing the boundaries in pursuit of excellence.

"He's not afraid to think outside the box and supports our mission of doing things differently to grow our game."

The decision marks a dramatic U-turn for DeChambeau, who in February committed himself to the US-based PGA Tour.

"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," DeChambeau wrote at the time.

That pledge came after two-time major winner Johnson had also committed himself to the PGA Tour.

The signing of DeChambeau, currently ranked 28th in the world with 10 professional victories under his belt, is a big coup for the Saudi-backed series.

Two-time major Martin Kaymer, who is also playing at the LIV opener in St Albans, welcomed the arrival of the American.

"The more the merrier," he said. "I think it's great obviously for the Tour and for us players that even better players are coming out here."

- Player bans -

But the American now faces exile from the PGA Tour along with 17 players who were banned on Thursday, a list that included six-time major champion Mickelson and former world number one Johnson

Johnson was among a group of players that also included Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Graeme McDowell who had resigned from the tour before Thursday's announcement.

Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter plans to appeal against the ban.

Johnson said after the second round of the 54-hole tournament at the Centurion Club on Friday that he had not spoken to anybody about taking legal action.

"At this point my plan is to play the LIV events and a few majors and that's it," said the American.

He added: "That was the whole reason -- that was the whole reason I started playing on LIV is to play less golf, not more."

The United States Golf Association said earlier this week that LIV players would be able to play in next week's US Open but the R&A, which runs the British Open, is yet to comment.

The DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, has not yet reacted.

On the course, former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel leads by three strokes from fellow South African Hennie du Plessis ahead of Saturday's final round.

Organisers have pledged to "supercharge" golf, offering 54-hole tournaments with no cuts, simultaneous "shotgun starts" and a team element.

Players who have signed up to the LIV series have faced tough questions over Saudi Arabia's human rights record and have been accused of greed in chasing the huge rewards on offer.

The eight LIV tournaments this year are worth a staggering $255 million, with plans in place to expand the series over the coming years.

Mickelson did not dispel rumours he was receiving a fee of $200 million to compete, while Johnson is reportedly getting $150 million.