Phil Mickelson and most LIV Golf players not up to US Open task

BROOKLINE — They came, they saw, but most of the headliners on the controversial LIV Golf series haven’t exactly conquered the Country Club.

Billboard Phil Mickelson? To cut.

While Lefty improved on his disastrous first-round 78, finishing 11 over par after his 73 on Friday, it still meant an early exit from the US Open, the only major win missing from his resume.

We won’t see him again until Labor Day weekend at The International in Bolton for the LIV event there.

Louis Osthuizen?

He broke par on Friday, but still finished 6 over par. Not good enough to do on weekends.

Ditto Kevin Na (more than 5) and Sergio Garcia (more than 4).

In all, 15 golfers from LIV Golf participated in the US Open. Only a handful made it to the weekend, led by Dustin Johnson (1 over), Patrick Reed (1 over), Bryson DeChambeau (2 over) and Richard Bland (2 over).

They sit behind the 20 or so golfers heading into the weekend under par at the par-70 layout.

Johnson said he didn’t notice any difference in the way fans treated or interacted with him given his allegiance to Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

“The fans have been great,” he said. “Obviously it’s a good sports city, and a lot of people come to support the event.”

Johnson said he doesn’t feel any kind of apprehension or tension about playing the US Open, following his split from the PGA Tour.

It was like playing any other week, although those who chose LIV Golf faced a lot of criticism given their choice to take the exorbitant guaranteed money and ignore the well-documented ills of their employer.

The USGA has allowed LIV Golf players to compete in the US Open this year, but that may change later.

Ahead of the US Open, the PGA Tour suspended all 17 members who played at the inaugural LIV Golf International Series event last week near London.

“Obviously it was a tough decision, but I’m very confident in the decision I’ve made,” Johnson said of joining LIV Golf. “Yeah, I’m really happy and looking forward to this weekend and the rest of the events this year.”

DeChambeau also made the cut. A USGA official told the Herald that the former US Open champion agreed to speak to the media after his tour, only his agent put the brakes on.

Go figure.

Mickelson, meanwhile, didn’t seem comfortable from the moment he showed up at Brookline. His normally faithful putter was erratic, as he was 148th out of 156 golfers in driving distance and 115th in fairway strokes.

“I enjoyed the week,” said Mickelson, who did a brief interview with a USGA pool reporter after his tour. “I would have liked to play better.”

Just like many other LIV Golf players.

Garcia flirted with the cut line all day at 4 over par, as the Top 60 and ties went to the weekend, with the cut line set at 3 over.

The Spaniard felt he played well, although his scores might not have indicated that was the case. He followed up his first round 74 shooting a par 70 on Friday.

“I feel like I played a lot better than my score shows, but it happens,” he said. “Overall, I felt like I hit a lot of good shots, but I didn’t get much out of them. I hope I will be there for the weekend.

This does not happen.

Other LIV Golf members absent from the US Open include Jed Morgan, Shaun Norris, Talor Gooch, Brandon Grace, Jimichero Kozuma, Sam Horsfield and James Piot.

Coming from an easier, uncut 54-hole format with LIV Golf may have had an impact, with just four of its 15 players seeing on the weekend.

In fact, Johnson was asked if it was possible for LIV Golf players to stay sharp and be able to compete in the majors while playing a different format in the new venture.

Johnson didn’t think that would be a problem, saying he would be “as sharp as I would get playing anywhere”.

Maybe, but the majority of LIV players didn’t even have time to play the US Open weekend, let alone win.

Michael C. Ford