Bryson DeChambeau and Bubba Watson say they haven’t received the second half of their Player Impact Program bonus money from the PGA Tour, and the two LIV Golf defectors aren’t happy about it. DeChambeau, for one, called it “childish.”
In an interview Thursday ahead of the LIV Golf Team Championship at Trump Doral in Miami, DeChambeau told ESPN he decided to stay as a plaintiff in LIV Golf’s federal antitrust lawsuit against the Tour because he hasn’t been paid $1.75 million of his $3.5 million in bonus money from finishing fifth in the PIP standings in 2021.
“It’s not about the money; it’s about the principle,” DeChambeau said. “It’s the way you deal with situations.”
According to the interview with ESPN, DeChambeau claims he received the first payment in February. But there were two requirements for receiving the second payment: Compete in a Tour event he hadn’t played in during the previous four seasons (designed to help field strength at an event that had lacked the individual’s star power) and make an appearance at a charity event.
DeChambeau, who won eight times on Tour including the 2020 U.S. Open, played in the Valero Texas Open to fulfill the first requirement. He told ESPN he tried to check off the second box by participating at a charity event for First Tee in Dallas next month. DeChambeau said he was told by the Tour the appearance wouldn’t fulfill the requirement because he is no longer a Tour member “in good standing.”
“They said because you’re not in good standing, we’re not allowing you to do something to help out junior golf and junior golfers,” DeChambeau said. “To me, that’s childish. It just shows where they stand emotionally. I respect and understand it, but when you’ve completed something and provided entertainment for them last year, that’s the reason I’m in the lawsuit.”
DeChambeau joined LIV Golf on June 10, shortly after saying he had no intentions of leaving the Tour and that he wanted to play against the best players in the world. Multiple reports say he was given a guaranteed contract worth more than $125 million, a figure DeChambeau confirmed in a podcast appearance.
DeChambeau was among the 11 LIV Golf players who sued the PGA Tour in federal court Aug. 3 in California. LIV Golf joined its players as a plaintiff in the lawsuit Aug. 28. But eight players, including Phil Mickelson, have removed themselves from the case. Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein are the other two former Tour pros who have remained plaintiffs along with DeChambeau.
“It’s really been frustrating over the last six years that I’ve had to deal with [the PGA Tour],” DeChambeau said. “It’s consistently frustration after frustration of them not handling things correctly.”
Watson confirmed to ESPN that he, too, hasn’t received the second half of his bonus payment. The two-time Masters champion expected to receive $3 million for finishing 10th in the PIP standings. He joined LIV Golf after DeChambeau but has yet to play while nursing a knee injury.
“I have not received all of my money for something that I won two years ago,” Watson said.
Watson said he failed to complete his charity component to receive the full amount.
“They canceled on me a few times,” Watson said. “I was supposed to do some things. They canceled the event, supposed to do another thing, they canceled the event. I guess if you look at it on paper, yes, I didn’t fulfill my duty, but I tried to.”
When ESPN asked Watson how much he would miss the $1.5 million he says he’s still owed, he said, “I’m good. I’ve been very blessed in my life. I’ll be able to eat.”
The PGA Tour awarded $40 million to the top finishers in the PIP standings. Phil Mickelson ($6 million) along with Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka ($3 million each) also finished in the top 10 and have left the Tour for LIV.