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4th former Arizona State golfer defects from the PGA Tour to the LIV Golf Series

·3 min read
Paul Casey at the 2022 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas. Photo: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Casey at the 2022 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas. Photo: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

During the live stream of the final round of the LIV Golf Invitational Series event on June 25 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club near Portland, Oregon, the breakaway circuit led by Greg Norman and backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced Paul Casey as its newest recruit.

He is the fourth former Arizona State golfer to defect from the PGA Tour. Phil Mickelson was among the first to pledge allegiance to the new circuit. Matt Jones wasn't far behind. Pat Perez was initially vocal against the series and let it be known during a rant against Mickelson and all things Saudi golf at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles in February. He has since changed his tune and is on board with LIV after reportedly signing a four-year deal.

“This opportunity has been like winning the lottery for me,” he said.

Casey was once a UNICEF ambassador, but he is no longer listed on the organization’s website. He had previously spoken out against playing the Saudi International, which is unaffiliated with the LIV Golf Series. He then flip-flopped on that decision after competing in the tournament in Saudi Arabia – which now features the PIF in its title – the past two years. Casey's first event with LIV will be at the Trump Bedminster course in New Jersey at the end of July.

Ranked No. 26 in the world, Casey finished third at the Players Championship in March but hasn’t played a full round since. He conceded all three of his matches at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March and withdrew from the Masters in April before the first round.

LIV Golf is paying large, up-front guarantees as the primary means to poach golfers from the PGA Tour and DP World (formerly European) Tour. Mickelson, for example, reportedly got $200 million to join. That's in addition to any on-course winnings he or other golfers can make in competition. LIV Golf events have $20 million purses, with $4 million going to the winner. The fields are limited to 48 golfers and events are three days and 54 holes with no cut. The last-place golfer pockets $120,000 for his efforts.

By comparison, J.T. Poston, who won the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic on Sunday, earned $1,278,000. Ricky Barnes finished 69th, last among those who made the weekend cut, and he took home $14,697.

Another former Sun Devil, Jon Rahm, who is currently ranked third in the Official World Golf Ranking, went out of his way to get in front of reporters at the Genesis in February and used the world "fealty" to express his devotion to the PGA Tour.

He has several times since then repeated his devotion to the Tour, most recently at the U.S. Open in June.

“I consider the PGA Tour has done an amazing job giving us the best platform for us to perform," Rahm said at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. "I do see the appeal that other people see towards the LIV Golf. I do see some of the – I’ll put this delicately – points or arguments they can make towards why they prefer it. To be honest, part of the (LIV) format is not really appealing to me. Shotgun three days to me is not a golf tournament, no cut. It’s that simple. I want to play against the best in the world in a format that’s been going on for hundreds of years. That’s what I want to see.”

LIV Golf has long been criticized as a way for the Saudi government to "sportswash" its human rights record. The circuit has eight events in 2022 and has talked of expanding to 14 in 2023.

Golfweek's Adam Woodard and Adam Schupak contributed to this article.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Paul Casey fourth ex-Arizona State golfer to defect to LIV Golf Series