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The escalating Super League Golf saga has taken a fresh turn with the Saudi Arabia investors behind the proposed breakaway circuit dramatically outbidding the PGA Tour to take effective control of the Asian Tour.
Telegraph Sport revealed on Tuesday that many of the top names in the game — including world No 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No 1 Justin Rose — are mulling over five-year offers worth more than $100m to join the SGL, with Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, warning the players at a mandatory meeting here at Quail Hollow Country Club on Tuesday night that anyone signing would be immediately suspended and face a lifetime ban.
And with the European Tour onside, that would almost certainly mean they would not be eligible to play in the Ryder Cup, starting with this year’s match in September. But the Saudis are set to buy themselves credibility and a place at the official table with the audacious Asian Tour buy-out.
It is understood that they have guaranteed more than $100m to the cash-poor circuit in a five-year deal, approximately four times what the PGA Tour offered in a counter-bid. Both the Asian and PGA Tours have been contacted for comment.
It is a complex situation, but insiders suspect that, as well as giving the SLG many venues to start up as planned in September 2022, the Saudis will also try to buy up the other "smaller" Tours around the world, including the Sunshine Tour, the Australasia Tour, the Japan Tour and the Korea Tour.
If nothing else it would be a spectacular show of financial might that would split the game in half with the PGA Tour and European Tour bound by the "strategic alliance" signed last year.
That was supposedly meant to kill off the SLG plan - then known as Premier Golf League - but the Saudis are pushing on. And the growing feeling in the locker room is that certain veterans such as Phil Mickelson, Rose and Henrik Stenson are taking the offer extremely seriously.
"Put it this way, you're in your 40s, coming to the end of your career, you might have one Ryder Cup left in you and someone is dangling more than $100m in your face," a source said to Telegraph Sport. "What would you do?"
Other heavyweight targets for the Saudis include Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau. Rory McIlroy voiced his opposition to the scheme last year and Tiger Woods is understood not to be interested despite the ridiculous numbers.