[PHOTO: Chris Trotman/LIV Golf]

Dustin Johnson didn’t need to win a Major in 2022 to have by far the most lucrative year of his career. In fact, he didn’t have to win much at all.

Overnight, LIV Golf announced Johnson as the new tour’s 2022 season-long individual champion. And the prize for this title? A whopping $US18 million. That’s $28.5 million in our money.

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

In six LIV appearances since joining the upstart Saudi-backed circuit ahead of its inaugural event in June, Johnson had five top-10 finishes, including a lone win in Boston. Those tournaments have been spread out over four months. Again, that’s a “season-long” bonus of $US18 million (the same amount Rory McIlroy earned for winning the PGA Tour’s season-long FedEx Cup title) for playing in six events spanning a third of the year. Pretty wild.

LIV Golf still has one more regular-season event this week in Saudi Arabia, but no one can catch Johnson on the individual moneylist. Branden Grace is currently second in the standings, followed by Patrick Reed and Cameron Smith, who has only played in three events since joining LIV at the end of August. The runner-up for this season-long contest gets an $US8 million bonus while third-place gets $US4 million.

There have been questions over whether LIV prizemoney is drawn from an individual golfer’s contract – in Johnson’s case, reportedly worth more than $US100 million. That payment structure has been repeatedly denied, but a statement by a LIV lawyer during an August hearing seemed to indicate otherwise.

Regardless, the 38-year-old Johnson made more money this year from six events than in any other full season during his 15-year PGA Tour career. Johnson had already made nearly $US10 million individually from those six finishes plus an additional $3 million for team competitions.

Add in his latest $18 million bonus, and that’s more than $30 million in prizemoney. And he still has one more individual event as well as the team championship at Doral at the end of the month, which will serve as LIV’s inaugural season finale.

Johnson’s most profitable season prior came in 2020 when he pocketed more than $US20 million, $15 million of which came for winning the FedEx Cup. He also added a green jacket that November. Whether DJ will be at Augusta next April remains up in the air, but in the meantime, he’s certainly added a lot to his bank account.