USGA says it may exclude LIV golf players from future events

BROOKLINE, Mass. – The United States Golf Association is not banning players from participating in this week’s US Open due to their affiliation with the LIV Golf Invitational Series. But the organization that governs golf in the United States and Mexico and administers the US Open has left open the possibility that it could do so in the future.

USGA CEO Mike Whan said in a pre-tournament press conference at the Country Club on Wednesday that he could see the organization looking at ways in the future to make it more difficult for LIV Golf players. to participate in the US Open.

“Could I foresee a day? Yeah,” said Whan. “Do I know what this day looks like? I do not know. What we’re talking about (with LIV Golf) was different two years ago and it was different months ago than it is today.

“We have been doing this for 127 years. So I think we have to take a long-term view and see where things are going. It won’t be a knee-jerk reaction. The question was, could you imagine a day when it would be harder for some people doing different things to get into a US Open? I could. I don’t know, but I could certainly foresee that day.”

Players such as Dustin Johnson, Kevin Na, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen withdrew their PGA Tour memberships with perhaps fear of being suspended, leading to the US Open honoring it.

These four players are all on the US Open court after appearing in the first event of the LIV Golf Invitational Series last week.

But the USGA said the lack of consent from the PGA Tour to compete in an alternate event or series would not prevent them from playing at the US Open.

“We pride ourselves on being the most open championship in the world and players who have earned the right to compete in this year’s championship, both by exemption and qualification, will have the opportunity to do so,” said USGA in a statement. . “Our field criteria were set before registration opened earlier this year and it is neither appropriate nor fair for competitors to alter the criteria once established.

“In terms of players who might choose to play in London this week, we simply asked ourselves this question: should a player who qualified for the US Open 2022, via our published field criteria, be removed from the field as a result? of his decision to play in another event? And we ultimately decided they shouldn’t.”

Controversy surrounding the event includes its funding by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund and the threat LIV Golf poses to the PGA Tour. It left many wondering if the major championships would take action.

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Although the PGA Tour has no jurisdiction over the majors, it works closely with them and many exemption criteria are tied to PGA Tour performance.

Phil Mickelson, who secured a spot at the 2022 US Open by winning the PGA Championship last year, has not withdrawn his PGA Tour membership and said last week in an interview with SI.com/Morning Read that he was confident that he would not be denied a place in the majors.

Mickelson, who turns 52 on Thursday, is bye for the Masters and PGA for life, and the British Open until age 60 because of his victories in those tournaments.

“I’ve had many conversations with the organizations that run the majors,” Mickelson said. “And I want to keep these conversations private. But I can’t wait to play the US Open and I will be there. I am under the understanding that I am capable of playing.”

One way the USGA or any other organization could make it harder to compete in a major tournament is to skew its qualifying criteria and put more emphasis on recognized tours or even decrease the number of people who qualify through the official world golf ranking. So far, LIV Golf events do not receive OWGR points.

Regarding the Saudi funding of the LIV Golf Series, Whan acknowledged that the complications that come from restricting someone strictly for this reason.

“Whether we all like it or not, on February 30 the guys played for the same promoter in Saudi Arabia with an acceptable exit from the PGA Tour, and for years the DP World Tour had an event there, even promoter,” he said.

“I’m sure there are players who have both come through our qualifications who may be sponsored by these different (entities) – so we asked ourselves the question a week before if you play somewhere where you are not allowed to play, would you be disqualified for the US Open 2022. And we said no.

“And we also had to ask the question, if you’re going to put that kind of a clause, who comes in, we have to go back to 9,300 people (who entered the US Open) and played and where were they sponsored. That becomes quite a slippery slope to try and apply that to 9,300 people.’

Ed’s Note: The USGA has a business relationship with Buffalo Group, which owns and operates Morning Read. MR is Sports Illustrated’s exclusive golf content partner and an independent media outlet.

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> Seven years later, the USGA ground stroke ban is in effect, but is golf better for it?
> USGA Museum at US Open features artifacts from golf’s pioneers
> Listen: Viktor Hovland adjusts his mindset for the Majors

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Michael C. Ford