BANGKOK, Oct 10 — Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson has pocketed US$18 million (RM84 million) after securing the inaugural LIV Golf individual championship, organisers of the breakaway tour announced today.

The American has had five top-10 finishes in the opening six events of the Saudi-backed series including a dramatic win at the LIV Golf Invitational Boston.

Johnson, 38, finished 16th at the Bangkok tournament, which ended yesterday, and now has an insurmountable lead in the individual standings with one regular season event remaining.

South Africa’s Branden Grace is second in the individual standings, 42 points behind the former world number one.

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

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, a former world number one, said: “The first chapter of LIV Golf’s history could not be written without Dustin Johnson’s name.

“By any measure, DJ is among the elite players in the world. From the start, he’s been a LIV Golf cornerstone. He has more than lived up to his billing and he deserves immense credit for clinching LIV’s first individual season title.”

LIV Golf, which offers huge prize purses, has attracted some of golf’s biggest stars including Johnson, British Open champion Cameron Smith and six-time major winner Phil Mickelson.

But it has led to deep splits within the game, with no world ranking points on offer for the rebels.

LIV golfers have been banned from the US PGA Tour, ruling out American players from qualifying for the 2023 Ryder Cup.

European stars to have left for LIV, including stalwarts Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, have all plummeted down the world rankings and seem unlikely to make Luke Donald’s team for the two-yearly contest, which takes place near Rome. — AFP