Back forces Dustin Johnson out of Saudi International; could it impact his LIV Golf opener?
Dustin Johnson's back injury that has forced him out of the Saudi International could impact his start for season two of LIV Golf.
Johnson, from Jupiter, pulled out of the event after “tweaking his back,” according to a brief statement released by Asian Tour officials ahead of Thursday's opening round. Johnson is a two-time winner of the event.
The Saudi International is sponsored by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which also finances LIV Golf.
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Johnson is one of a handful of marquee players who last year signed up for LIV Golf, which opens its second season in three weeks at Mayakoba, Mexico, and is rebranding as the LIV Golf League. He has missed events on the PGA Tour because of his back, most notably the 2017 Masters (when he was No. 1 in the world) and the 2012 Masters.
In 2017, he slipped on stairs, landed hard and hit the lower left side of his back. He withdrew minutes before his opening-round tee time. He described the injury in 2012 as a "tweaked back."
Johnson missed a month after the 2017 injury.
Every player in LIV's season-ending event at Trump National Doral last year is in the Saudi International field.
Johnson won the triple crown in LIV's inaugural season. He topped the money leaders list, won the individual championship and captained 4 Aces to the team championship. He earned more than $35 million in five months. That is in addition to the reported $125 million contract he signed to defect from the PGA Tour and sign with LIV.
If Johnson is unable to go, LIV will have to use an alternate to replace Johnson on 4 Aces in the season's first event. The LIV roster will consist of 48 players — 12 four-man teams. That roster has yet to be announced.
LIV, which is expanding its season to 14 events this year from eight in its first year, likely will sign additional players who are ready to go in case of injury, similar to a taxi squad.
Bubba Watson was on the roster last year but missed the LIV season because of right knee surgery. He continued as a non-playing captain for his team, which still had four players.
Johnson's team had a shakeup following last season with Jupiter's Peter Uihlein replacing Talor Gooch. Uihlein joins Johnson, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez on 4 Aces.
Uihlein is leaving the team captained by his friend and fellow Jupiter resident Brooks Koepka. Gooch is joining Watson's team.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Could Dustin Johnson's back injury impact his LIV Gold season opener in Mexico?