MIAMI — Bryson DeChambeau told ESPN on Thursday that he remains a plaintiff in LIV Golf’s federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour because the PGA Tour won’t pay him a $1.75 million bonus it owes him as part of its Player Impact Program.
DeChambeau, speaking to ESPN before playing in the LIV Golf Team Championship Pro-Am at Trump National Doral Golf Club, said the PGA Tour paid him only half of the $3.5 million bonus he earned by finishing fifth in the inaugural 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.”
DeChambeau said he received his first payment of $1.75 million on Feb. 15. He said there were two requirements for receiving the second payment: Play in a regular PGA Tour event he hadn’t competed in during the previous four seasons and make an appearance at a charity event.
DeChambeau said he fulfilled the first requirement by playing in the Valero Texas Open in early April. DeChambeau said he tried to fulfill the second one by appearing at a charity event for First Tee in Dallas next month. DeChambeau says he was told by the PGA Tour that the appearance wouldn’t fulfill the requirement because he is no longer a PGA 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.”
The PGA Tour didn’t immediately respond to ESPN’s request for comment Thursday.
DeChambeau, whose eight PGA Tour victories include the 2020 U.S. Open, joined LIV Golf on June 10. He reportedly received a guaranteed contract worth more than $125 million.
DeChambeau, 29, was among the 11 LIV Golf players who sued the PGA Tour in federal court in California on Aug. 3, alleging the tour was using its monopoly power to quash competition and that it had discouraged TV networks, vendors and other companies from working with LIV Golf. The PGA Tour filed a countersuit, in which it accused LIV Golf of interfering with its contracts with players.
LIV Golf joined its players as a plaintiff in the lawsuit on Aug. 28. Since then, eight players, including six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, have removed themselves from the case. DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein remain as plaintiffs.
“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.”
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, who also joined LIV Golf but isn’t playing this season because of a knee injury, told ESPN on Thursday that he didn’t receive the second half of his PIP bonus from the PGA Tour, either. Watson finished 10th in the 2021 PIP standings and was due to receive a $3 million bonus.
“I have not received all of my money for something that I won two years ago,” Watson said.
Like DeChambeau, Watson said he didn’t fulfill the second requirement by appearing at a charity event.
“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 Watson was asked 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.”
MIckelson finished second in the PIP standings and was supposed to collect $6 million. Two other LIV golfers, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, also finished in the top 10 and were entitled to $3 million each. It’s unclear whether Mickelson, Johnson and Koepka collected all of their bonuses.
The PGA Tour introduced the PIP program to reward players who generated the most positive interest in the PGA Tour during the previous year. The players were graded on a variety of metrics, including social media and TV exposure.
The PGA Tour awarded $40 million to the top finishers in the PIP standings; Tiger Woods finished first and won $8 million. The PGA Tour increased the PIP pool to $50 million for 2022.