Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau reject the Saudi Golf League, huge blow for breakaway circuit

The Greg Norman-headed golfing revolution has been delivered a potentially desperate one-two so soon after Phil Mickelson’s thoughts were revealed.

Tournament golf is well-used to a challenge that begins with fresh hope, gains early momentum, then fades with devastating speed at the weekend.

It's not a pattern the Greg Norman-fronted Saudi Golf League was hoping to replicate and yet that's exactly what appeared to happen while the Genesis Invitational showcased the world's top 10 players at Riviera Country Club.

At the start of one of the PGA Tour's finest regular events on the schedule the Saudi threat loomed large.

There was talk of big money for the players and two star names appeared likely to flee the apparently appalling financial confines of the PGA Tour.

But, even before the cut, Phil Mickelson's exact role in the breakaway league had been revealed by a staggering exclusive from The Firepit Collective, one which was accompanied by an explosive quote.

"They're scary motherf**kers to get involved with," Mickelson said of Saudi Arabia. "We know they killed Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.

"Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates. They've been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse.

"As nice a guy as (PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan) comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won't do what's right. And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I'm not sure I even want (the SGL) to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the (PGA) Tour."

What Mickelson took as Henry Kissinger-level brinkmanship quickly took on a very different hue.

The golf world was left gasping at his tactics and even those who previously might have had sympathy for those grasping the multi-millions on offer were suddenly wondering if this were an entirely wise project.

Before the leaders at the Genesis Invitational had reached the turn in the final round, two of the biggest names associated with the new venture had voiced a hasty change of mind.

"I am fully committed to the PGA Tour," said Dustin Johnson. "I am grateful for the opportunity to play on the best tour in the world and for all it has provided me and my family. While there will always be areas where our Tour can improve and evolve, I am thankful for our leadership and the many sponsors who make the PGA Tour golf's premier tour."

Soon after Bryson DeChambeau released the following statement on social media, granted a spiky commentary from veteran golf writer Scott Michaux:

The controlled words of Johnson and DeChambeau were a little late in the day.

It is unlikely to be forgotten that they came after many other world top 20 performers had separated themselves from the speculations.

Indeed, Fred Couples tweeted:

And, after the back-tracking of Johnson and DeChambeau, David Duval wrote:

What happens next is uncertain, but the feeling is that Mickelson's words have dealt a massive blow to the future of the plans of Norman and Saudi Arabia, essentially highlighting that he is playing a political game which the more naive and unworldly-wise are suddenly (and horribly) aware of.

READ MORE: Fallout from Phil Mickelson's explosive comments about Saudi Golf League rumbles on

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