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Dustin Johnson clinches inaugural LIV Golf championship and $18 million prize

<i>Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>Golfer Dustin Johnson is seen here at a press conference near London on June 7. Johnson has clinched the inaugural LIV Golf championship and the series' $18 million prize.
AFP via Getty Images
Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images
Golfer Dustin Johnson is seen here at a press conference near London on June 7. Johnson has clinched the inaugural LIV Golf championship and the series' $18 million prize.

By Steve Almasy Lizete Dos Santos, CNN

Dustin Johnson has enough points to secure the inaugural season-long LIV Golf individual championship and the series’ $18 million prize, LIV officials announced Monday.

The two-time major winner secured five top-10 finishes in the opening six events and was the winner last month of the LIV Golf Invitational Boston. For that win he earned $4 million.

On Sunday, Johnson, 38, finished 16th at the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok.

Johnson’s consistency gives him a 42-point lead over the next closest player, Branden Grace, with only 40 points available to the winner of the final individual competition this season.

“Locking up the individual competition is big. It’s an honor to be LIV’s first individual season champion,” Johnson said in the statement.

The 38-year-old expressed his thanks to “LIV’s growing legion of fans around the world” and said he was “looking forward to further contributing to LIV Golf’s exciting story and continued growth.”

Johnson made the switch from the PGA Tour to the Saudi-backed rebel series in June. The controversial LIV Golf series has caused a rift in professional golf, as LIV golfers have been banned from the PGA Tour and there are currently no world ranking points offered for LIV events.

The PGA Tour and LIV Golf are embroiled in a legal battle, with dueling lawsuits.

In August, the LIV series joined an antitrust lawsuit from some of its players that alleges the PGA Tour threatened to place lifetime bans on players who participate on the LIV golf series, adding that “unprecedented suspensions” were placed upon them. The suit also alleges the PGA Tour has threatened sponsors, vendors and agents to coerce players to abandon opportunities to play in LIV Golf events and access to their members.

The PGA Tour filed a countersuit in late September, claiming “tortious interference with the Tour’s contracts with its members.”

The LIV Golf series is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) — a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the man who a US intelligence report named as responsible for approving the operation that led to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman has denied involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.

Series organizers have spent eye-popping sums to poach top PGA tour players, reportedly offering nine figures for individuals just to sign with the new league and enormous purses for the winners of its tournaments. In early August, LIV CEO Greg Norman, a World Golf Hall of Fame member, confirmed on Fox News that golf legend Tiger Woods turned down an offer worth approximately $700-$800 million to join LIV Golf.

The tour consists of eight events across the world. The final individual competition takes place from October 14-16 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, while the season-ending team championship event will be held in Miami between October 28-30.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Jacob Lev, Matt Foster and Ben Morse contributed to this report.

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