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By Ali Stafford in Brookline
Last Updated: 15/06/22 6:27 pm
USGA chief executive Mike Whan has defended their decision to allow LIV Golf players to compete in this year’s US Open, although admits it may become harder for them to feature in the future.
The USGA released a statement last week clarifying that those players involved in the inaugural Saudi-backed event at the Centurion Club would still be able to feature at The Country Club in Brookline for the third men major of the year.
Former US Open champions Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau were among those to benefit, along with six-time US Open runner-up Phil Mickelson and Ryder Cup legend Sergio Garcia, with the USGA’s stance different to how golf’s main tours have punished the LIV Golf players .
2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen believes that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf Series can coexist but says he is grateful to the PGA Tour for his career up until now.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced their members competing in the LIV Golf Invitational Series would be suspended indefinitely, a move described by Greg Norman as “vindictive” and something that “deepens the divide between the Tour and its members”.
The DP World Tour didn’t publicly confirm its stance until chief executive Keith Pelley sent a letter to all their members on Tuesday, where Pelley revealed the “complexity” of the situation meant that players would not find out any possible punishments until June 23 .
Five time winner Rickie Fowler says that the PGA Tour ‘needs to evolve’ in order to keep the best players, and admits that he is interested by the sound of the Saudi backed LIV Golf Series.
Speaking ahead of the US Open this week, live on Sky SportsWhan said: “We [the USGA] definitely feel responsibility to this game, and we feel a responsibility to the competitors that play it. We did sit down and have a long conversation about a week before the US Open.
“Did where somebody else played and what promoter they played it with disqualify them for this event? We decided no on that, with all the awareness that not everyone would agree with that decision.
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“Whether we all like it or not, in February 30 guys played for the same promoter in Saudi Arabia with an acceptable release from the PGA Tour, and for years the DP World Tour has had an event there, the same promoter.
“I’m sure there are players that both came through our qualifying and maybe teeing it up that are sponsored by those different – so we asked ourselves the question: one week before, if you play somewhere where you’re not approved to play, would you be disqualified for the 2022 US Open?
Billy Horschel says he doesn’t understand why players who are in the prime of their careers have decided to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.
“We said no. And we also had to ask the question, if you’re going to put that kind of clause in, who gets in? It becomes a pretty slippery slope to try to apply that across 9,300 people.”
When asked whether he felt LIV Golf players may struggle to feature in future editions of the US Open, Whan added: “Yeah, I could foresee a day. Do I know what that day looks like? No, I don’t.
“To be honest with you, what we’re talking about was different two years ago, and it was different two months ago than it is today. We’ve been doing to 127 years, so I think everybody else that we work with need to take a long-term view of this and see where these things go.
Ahead of the US Open, Rory McIlroy says he has defended the PGA Tour amid the LIV Golf series controversy because he feels ‘it is the right thing to do’.
“We’re not going to show a knee-jerk reaction to kind of what we do. But the question was, could you envision a day where it would be harder for some folks doing different things to get into a US Open? I could . Will that be true? I don’t know, but I can definitely foresee that day.
“I think it would be a lot of hypotheticals for me to get what LIV is going to be by the time we’re talking about this next year, but as we would do any year, we’re going to definitely re-evaluate field criteria. We would any year. We will take a look at what the landscape looks like. “
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