MINNEAPOLIS - Dustin Johnson made official what many in the golf world thought was already coming: One of the top names in golf and the No. 15-ranked player in the world resigned from the PGA Tour.
He’s headed to the LIV Golf Tour, an eight-event series backed financially by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, and he’s not alone. Other big name players joining the tour include Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Louis Oosthuisen, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell, among others.
PGA officials announced Thursday morning, as the first LIV event was set to start in London, any player headed to that tour would be suspended and ineligible for any PGA Tour competition. The LIV Tour goes from June to October, with 54-hole tournaments and 48-player fields. Saudi Arabia’s PIF is putting $250 million in prize money towards the tour, with a $25 million purse in each of the first seven events.
In mid-July, TPC Twin Cities is hosting the fourth-annual 3M Open. Fans heading to Blaine to watch some of the best players in the game won’t be seeing the likes of Mickelson, Garcia, DeChambeau and Oosthuisen. So what does it mean for the 3M Open going forward? Fox 9 caught up with Tournament Director Mike Welch to find out.
HOW WILL THE LIV TOUR IMPACT THE 3M OPEN?
We’re going to lose a couple guys, I think we’re just excited that we’re a tournament stop on the best tour in the world. We’re going to have 156 of the best golfers, now there might not be some of the names that folks know. But at one point, Dustin Johnson was somebody that was an up and coming golfer. There’s so many great golfers on the PGA Tour right now, if you see who is in the top 25 of the FedEx Cup, I think you’d be surprised to see names like Cameron Young, Luke List and Tom Hoge. Guys that probably have some of that star potential. That’s what we’re excited about, the depth of golf is just so darn good and I think you’re going to see a lot of those players at our tournament.
WAS DUSTIN JOHNSON’S RESIGNING FROM THE PGA A SURPRISE?
We knew that this was coming. Now that the field is released for the first tour event, we see a lot of the folks that were in our field last year. Does it take those players away? Yes. Would I say that it weakens it? I don’t think that it weakens it. The depth of PGA Tour players right now is so incredible. Whether you’re player No. 56 or 156, you’re still a really good golfer. Is it different? Yes. Does it weaken it? I’m not sure I would say that it weakens it. If we can become one of the tournaments that starts to give some of these players the name to catapult what they become as a player later on, we’re happy to do that. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, just maybe a little bit different.
HOW CONCERNING IS THE LIV TOUR FOR THE FUTURE OF THE 3M OPEN?
I don’t think that there’s any cause for concern just yet with anything that’s new. We’re still excited about who is going to be in our field. When you think about the PGA Tour, it’s the best golf tour in the world. It has the deepest field of players. Whoever the new Dustin Johnson is, or the new Patrick Reed or whomever might not be here because they’ve decided to play elsewhere, that’s who we’re looking forward to seeing. There’s going to be a winner at the 3M Open on Sunday, at that point many folks won’t care who was in the field. We’re going to focus on who has committed to our tournament and who has the ability to commit to our tournament. There might be some different names this year, but the level of golf is not going to suffer.
WHAT MAKES YOU SO CONFIDENT THE 3M OPEN HAS A STRONG FUTURE?
We’re not concerned about the quality of golf that’s going to happen here at TPC Twin Cities. We know it’s going to be the best golfers in the world. I think the depth of golf and the players now, with some of those leaving to go to the LIV Tour or play somewhere else, it’s just different names. The level of golf doesn’t change, the names do and that’s true in any sport. Is that going to take the casual golf fan away from us? We hope not.
Fans shouldn’t forget that in the first 3M Open in 2019, players in the final three groups included current stars Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff, the inaugural champion. Other past champions are Michael Thompson in 2020, and Cameron Champ last summer.
The 3M Open is set for July 18-24 at TPC Twin Cities and will run through at least 2025.