Paulina Gretzky, the wife of Dustin Johnson, has a message for those who doubt her husband’s drive after he admitted the only reason he jumped to LIV was for the money.
“If anyone thinks that Dustin has lost his competitive spirit, then they don’t know Dustin well enough because he is still ready to show you who the (expletive) he is,” she said. “And there is a reason why he’s going back to play these majors. He wants to win just as much as they do.”
Johnson, the Jupiter, Florida, resident and two-time major winner, revealed on the Netflix Golf docuseries “Full Swing” his primary motivation to leave the PGA Tour.
“The decision to join LIV … for me it was playing less, making more money. Pretty simple,” he said. “Someone offers anyone a job doing the same thing they’re already doing but less time at the office and they’re going to pay them more, pretty sure you’re going to take it. Something’s wrong with you if you didn’t.”
Mission accomplished. Besides being paid a reported $125 million to join Greg Norman’s league that is being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Johnson made more than $35 million in prize money in eight LIV events.
Johnson made $75 million in his career on the PGA Tour before defecting to LIV.
Johnson was asked if he believes people now doubt him.
“I don’t really care,” he said. “I know I’m one of the best golfers in the world. I think I’ve proven it over a long period of time. When I show up for a major, I’m there to win. I feel like my reputation as a golfer is already kind of set. I don’t think there’s anything to prove.”
Gretzky, the daughter of NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, said Johnson’s decision was about his family. Johnson and Gretzky were married last April and have two sons; Tatum, 8, and River, 5.
“I don’t think Dustin would ever make a bad choice for his children and people have to understand at the end of the day, that’s who he chose this for,” she said.
“Of course, I get what everyone’s saying. But my dad being a hockey player I’m sure as a kid, there were times when I’m like, ‘Why does my dad have to play on my birthday?’ This is about Dustin and the kids and me, and taking care of us and being there with us.”
Johnson, though, will be playing almost as many tournaments a year on LIV now that the league has expanded to 14 events, and the travel will be just as grueling, if not worse, with six of those events around the world.
Add the four majors and a couple of Asian Tour events Johnson could play – he pulled out of the Saudi International this month because of a back injury – to his LIV schedule and Johnson will play nearly the same amounts of events as he did in his final full season on the PGA Tour, 21 in the 2020-21 season.
LIV opens its second season Thursday in Mexico.
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