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Reports: Texas native Patrick Reed leaving PGA Tour for Saudi-funded league

The 2018 Masters Champion will join Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and a slew of other golfers in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour.
Credit: AP
Patrick Reed hits off the 11th tee during the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament, Thursday, May 5, 2022, at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm golf club in Potomac, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

TEXAS, USA — Texas native and Spring resident Patrick Reed plans to sign with the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational series, according to reports.

The announcement is expected to come on Friday, in time for the rival circuit to start playing in American cities.

Another major champion, Bryson DeChambeau, is expected to join Reed in the announcement. 

The inaugural LIV Golf Invitational at Centurion Golf Club, which features Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia, is set to begin Thursday.

DeChambeau was among the early recruits to the Saudi league in January. That changed when Mickelson brought unwanted attention on the nascent league with interviews that disparaged the PGA Tour and the Saudis who are funding the LIV Golf Investments.

Mickelson was asked about reports he was getting $200 million.

“I feel that contract agreements should be private,” he said. “Doesn’t seem to be the case, but it should be.”

Mickelson has drawn criticism from a human rights group, who called him a "stooge" for signing up for the league.

 “I don’t condone human rights violations,” Mickelson responded hesitatingly, choosing his words carefully at a terse news conference Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia faced a global outcry over the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and other human rights violations. The kingdom has denied involvement in Khashoggi's death. 

It was Mickelson who called the Saudis “scary mother-(expletives)” in comments reported in February, citing Khashoggi's murder in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

“I’ve made, said and done a lot of things that I regret, and I’m sorry for that and for the hurt that it’s caused a lot of people,” he said. “I’m certainly aware of what has happened with Jamal Khashoggi, and I think it’s terrible. I’ve also seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history.”

“I understand people have very strong opinions and may disagree with my decision,” Mickelson said when asked to expand on his apology, "and I can empathize with that.”

RELATED: Column: Saudi money in LIV Golf could put college stars in tough spot

Johnson was the biggest name to announce his support for the PGA Tour in February, and DeChambeau followed suit.

“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 said in a February statement.

Asked about his interest last week at the Memorial, DeChambeau said, “I personally don’t think that at this point in time I’m in a place in my career where I can risk things like that.”

“I’m loyal to my family that I’ve created around me with sponsors and everything. And as of right now, the golf world is probably going to change in some capacity. I don’t know what that is. Not my job to do so. I’m just going to keep playing professional golf and enjoy it wherever it takes me, play with the best players in the world."

His agent said Wednesday in a statement that “Bryson has always been an innovator.”

RELATED: Texan Scottie Scheffler gets first major win at Masters

“Having the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something unique has always been intriguing to him. Professional golf as we know it is changing and it’s happening quickly,” said Brett Falkoff of GSE Worldwide.

DeChambeau won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2020 at a time when he captivated golf with his out-of-the-box thinking that more speed and more power would change the game. He added 40 pounds of muscle and mass and his ball speed off the driver hit 200 mph. He also competed in long drive exhibitions.

Reed won the 2018 Masters for his only major. Along with being known for his grit and short game, he was a prime source of heckling in U.S. galleries for moving sand away from his golf ball in the Bahamas in 2019, a clear violation of the rules.

Players are getting massive signing bonuses to join Norman's league. The Telegraph reports Johnson getting $150 million even before competing for $25 million funds at each of the eight LIV events on the schedule.

The first U.S. event for the LIV series is the weekend before the Fourth of July at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon. The PGA Tour did not grant releases for its players to compete outside London this week, and some of them have resigned their memberships.

Oregon is different because the PGA Tour does not allow for releases for tournaments held in North America. Still to be determined is whether the players to take the Saudi money can return to the PGA Tour.

The U.S. Open said Tuesday it will honor players who have qualified to compete next week at The Country Club outside Boston, and the British Open is expected to do the same.

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