Arizona State's senior golfer David Puig, the No. 9 amateur golfer in the country, announced Monday he would forego his last two years of eligibility to compete professionally for the LIV Golf Tour.
Puig will make his professional debut in the LIV Golf Invitational Chicago from Sept. 16 to 18 at Rich Harvest Farms as part of a four-man team, Torque GC, captained by Joaquin Niemann with Scott Vincent and Jed Morgan. This weekend will be Puig's third LIV Golf event; the first two he participated in as an amateur.
"So many people have helped me over the past few years, and I know my success wouldn't be the same without everyone," Puig said in an Instagram post. "You've helped me to grow and improve in this great program, not only as a player but as a person. I've loved every minute of it."
Puig's departure should come as no surprise to ASU after the Sun Devils teed off their fall season without Puig at the Maui Jim Invitational last weekend. The team appears to have already recovered from Puig's departure after posting a record low 3-round tournament score of 800 (271-257-272).
He also competed in two amateur competitions in August, finishing with a T-4 in the World Amateur Team Championship and made it to Round 16 in the U.S. Amateur last month.
Puig's time as a Sun Devil is a model of excellence. The 20-year-old Spaniard boasted two All-American honors, won three times, and had seven top-10 finishes. He was an instrumental piece of the ASU squad that fell just short on its quest for a national championship after losing to Texas 3-2 in the National Title last season.
After LIV Golf threw boatloads of money to established PGA athletes, most notably Phil Mickelson and the $200 million contract he signed in June, the tournament's most recent campaign is to bring in collegiate talent to the tournament. Oklahoma State's Eugenio Chacarra became the first active college athlete to sign with LIV in late June.
Bringing in young talent adds criticism to a tournament already knee-deep in controversy because of the tour's integrity and intentions.
LIV Golf has been criticized for sports washing because it is funded by the Public Investment Fund controlled by the Saudia Arabian government. Sportswashing is when a nation uses sports to improve its image tarnished by wrongdoing.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon is critical of the LIV golf tournament because of Saudia Arabia's history of violations of human rights.
Puig's signing will turn the eyes of student athletes across the country debating if they want to sign a big-money contract and potentially give up the chance to compete in the majors, as it is still unknown if LIV golfers will earn world ranking points for their performance.
Puig plans on staying enrolled at ASU and is expected to graduate next year.
"David is an amazing Sun Devil, is and has been the heart and soul of our team. He's very loyal to our school and our program," said ASU head coach Matt Thurmond last month.
The Sun Devils start their season as the fifth-ranked team in the country as they look to allocate the missing production from Puig's departure.
Edited by Walker Smith, Kathryn Field, Piper Hansen and Grace Copperthite.