It’s the competition that’s started a civil war in professional golf.
Bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the organizers of the LIV Golf Series have pledged $2 billion into the new venture which, not surprisingly, has turned a lot of golfers’ heads — even though it’s run by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the man the CIA believe ordered the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Some big names — Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and others — have already made the move, costing them their place on the PGA Tour even as they were part of this weekend’s US Open. Other high-profile players, including Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson, are rumored to be joining LIV soon.
New reports claim that four-time major-championship winner Brooks Koepka (whose younger brother, Chase, has already signed on for LIV) might also switch. If so, he’s sure to get just as much, if not more, than any player so far.
And the amounts have been eye-watering. Mickelson is said to have landed $200 million and Johnson reportedly made a deal for $125 million with LIV. Even that lower number is more than Tiger Woods has made in his prize money for his entire career.
But not everyone’s tempted.
For players like Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, jumping ship is a sign of little more than bare-faced greed. “I just don’t see the value in tarnishing a reputation for extra millions,” he suggested.
For the golfers that have jumped ship, though, it’s clearly not such a problem.
The only question, really, is will they ever have enough money?
Net worth PRE-LIV?: $400 million
Total PGA Tour winnings: $95 million
LIV deal: $200 million
Despite labeling his Saudi paymasters “scary muthaf–kers,” Mickelson still signed up with LIV in the biggest deal yet seen in the breakaway competition.
It’s some payday for the 52-year-old, especially as he’s a shadow of the player he once was.
But it will certainly keep him in the lifestyle to which he’s become accustomed.
From Bentley Continentals to Aston Martins, Mickelson has long loved the finer things in life — he even owned a $40 million Gulfstream V jet, before selling it in 2019.
But it’s his more left-field purchases that give a better insight into what he does with his millions. Not only does Mickelson — who lost his endorsements with the likes of Workday, KPMG, Heineken and Callaway in the wake of his comments about Saudi Arabia — own a piece of a meteorite that crashed in Argentina in the 1930s but he also has a skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex, calling it “the coolest thing I’ve ever gotten.”
He and wife, Amy, and their three children live in a $7 million mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., but will soon be moving into a house Mickelson is having built in Jupiter Island, Fla., where his neighbors will include Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Dustin Johnson
But there may be another reason for Mickelson’s money grab.
In a new biography of the player, Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar, author Alan Shipnuck reveals that the golfer gambled away an estimated $40 million between 2010 and 2014.
“Mickelson’s love of gambling is fundamental to understanding his style of play as a golfer,” he writes. “It might also explain the Saudi seduction.”
Net worth pre LIV: $50 million
Total PGA Tour winnings: $74.2 million
LIV deal: $125-150 million
Sports industry experts Sportico rank Dustin Johnson third behind Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as the golf’s highest-paid player, estimating that the 37-year-old earned $40.8 million between June 2020 and May 2021 — a figure that includes around $16 million from appearance fees, sponsorships and endorsements with the likes of TaylorMade, RBC, Perfect Practice and BodyArmor.
And he certainly likes to flash his cash.
In November 2021, Johnson and his 33-year-old wife, Paulina Gretzky, who share two young sons, moved into a $14 million Florida mansion in Jupiter Island’s exclusive Admiral’s Cove. The 10,134-square-foot home boasts an infinity pool and private moorings for two yachts: a 41 Bahama and a 76 Viking Sportfish worth $4 million.
In 2018, Johnson’s agent David Winkle revealed that the player is obsessed with designer clothes.
“He has probably 30 suits that each cost three, four, five thousand dollars,” he told Golf.com. “Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, you name it.”
The king of bling also has hundreds of pairs of Adidas sneakers and 15 Hublot watches — some of which he undoubtedly got free thanks to an endorsement deal — but admitted in 2021 that he still had “a few more at the store I need to go pick up.”
Net worth pre LIV: $10 million
Total PGA Tour winnings: $26 million
LIV fee: $100 million
While Dustin Johnson has said he moved to LIV for the sake of his family, Bryson DeChambeau admitted his was a “business decision, first and foremost” — which is as close as anyone has come to saying they are only doing it for the money.
It’s not like he’s short of a few cents.
His huge house in Dallas, Texas, features a full gym, a spacious games room for playing FortNite, and a state-of-the-art golf simulator room where he can hone his swing. The 28-year-old, who is dating Sophia Phalen Bertolami, is also contemplating building a driving range and a multi-sport complex for baseball, basketball and tennis on the 52-acre plot.
As one of the game’s more prominent, and controversial, players, DeChambeau has certainly cashed in on his profile, bagging deals with Bose, Rolex, Bentley and NetJets.
He also had a lucrative deal with Rocket Mortgage but they dumped DeChambeau over the latest controversy.
“Bryson elected to join the LIV Golf Series,” said a company statement. “Effective immediately, Rocket Mortgage has ended its sponsorship agreement with Bryson.”
Net worth pre LIV: $70 million
Total PGA Tour winnings: $54 million
LIV deal: Undisclosed
Sergio Garcia might have 11 PGA Tour wins to his name, but the Spaniard hasn’t had a top-20 finish in a major championship since “El Niño” won his one and only major at the 2017 Masters.
But as a Ryder Cup legend, he might just have kissed his chance of captaining the European team adios.
Nonetheless, he’ll be raking in the bucks in an event that’s nowhere near as competitive as the PGA Tour and yet significantly more lucrative.
Garcia’s personal portfolio includes houses in Orlando, Fla; the Swiss ski resort of Crans-Montana; his hometown in Castellon, Spain; and a new 11,000-square-foot mansion he just bought in Austin, Texas. He’s married to wife Angela and has two kids.
With his properties spread far and wide, it’s lucky that Garcia also owns a $22 million Hawker 4000 business jet with an aisle long enough to practice his putting when he’s in the air.
“An airplane for me is like a car for somebody else going to work,” he once told Business Jet Traveller.
Net worth pre LIV: $60 million
Total PGA Tour winnings: $27.9 million
LIV fee: $20-30 million
Ian Poulter may not have won a major title in his 27-year pro career, but for European golf fans he will always be known as ‘”Mr Ryder Cup” after some memorable performances in the event.
Since moving to the United States in 2005, the Englishman has amassed nearly $30 million in PGA Tour winnings alone. His endorsements with the likes of Mastercard, Mutual of Omaha and Nikon have helped boost his net worth to a reported $60 million.
His mansion — shared with wife Katie and their four kids — in the golfers’ playground of Lake Nona, Fla., meanwhile, isn’t so much a family home as a car showroom for his collection of luxury and classic cars.
At one point, Poulter was reported to have owned 14 rare Ferraris, as well as a Mercedes AMG GTS, a Mercedes G63, a Ford G, and a Porsche 911 GT2.
At least the LIV money will come in handy for filing up the tanks.