USGA may ban LIV golfers from future US Opens

BROOKLINE, Mass. – Since last week, many top golfers revealed a schism in professional men’s play, rejecting the established PGA Tour to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit, the sport has been waiting for the weight of its power brokers.

The biggest golf prizes, heritage events, the highest protection dollars and the most important players in the calendar are the Masters Tournament, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. But none of these four events are governed by a professional tour, whether old or new. They are sometimes overseen by four different entities described as four families of golf (insert organized crime joke here).

These organizations are now at the forefront of the fight against the future of professional men’s golf. When the PGA Tour canceled 17 players who joined LIV Golf last week, the main question was the leaders of the major tournaments in Augusta National Golf Club (Masters), the U.S. Golf Association (US Open). R&A (British Open) and PGA of America (PGA Championship) would be chosen. Since they have long been allied with reputable U.S. and European tours, would they exclude the LIV Golf Invitational alternative series and exclude their players from their events?

On Wednesday, there was a partial response that could not console celebrities like Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson, who insisted they could play major tournaments while accepting the hundreds of millions of dollars distributed by LIV Golf. , whose main shareholder is the Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.

Although all LIV Golf players who qualified for this week’s U.S. Open at the Boston Outside Country Club have been welcomed, USGA CEO Mike Whan said Wednesday that his organization will explore ways to make it more difficult. LIV Golf players will compete in the event in the future.

Whan was asked if it would be “increasingly difficult” for LIV golfers to enter the US Open.

“Yes,” he replied.

Asked for details, Whan said, “Can I see one day? Yes, I could have predicted one day.”

Whan warned that the USGA would not act recklessly, but would certainly “re-evaluate” its criteria.

“The question was, can you imagine a day when it would be harder for some people to do different things to get into the US Open?” he said. “I could.”

There were other statements from Whan that did not support the LIV Golf Invitational series, which held its inaugural tournament outside London last weekend and still does not have the support of the major players and top levels of the PGA Tour. But the getaway circuit has surprisingly attracted some major players, most of whom have expressed allegiance to the U.S.-based PGA Tour a few weeks or days earlier.

“I’m saddened by what’s going on in professional gaming,” Whan said. He continued: “I have heard that this is good for the game. From my point of view right now, it seems good for a few people who are playing, but I’m struggling with how good this is for the game. “

Whan, who was a longtime LPGA commissioner until he took office at the USGA last summer, also stressed the need for each golf leader to work cohesively to assess the role of LIV Golf.

“Should we see what this becomes – if it’s an exhibition or a tour?” he said. “I’ve said many times that I’ve seen a lot of things start to play out, maybe there’s nothing behind this amount of noise or funding, but I’ve also seen a lot of those things not. A couple of years later we will be.

“An event doesn’t change the way I think about the future of the sport.”

And remarkably, when asked if the interruptions already established by the PGA Tour would turn his attention to the USGA reviewing the criteria for the future US Open, Whan quickly replied, “Yes. He called our attention to this tournament.”

Whan’s comments said that Seth Waugh, the PGA CEO of America, after being firmly behind the PGA Tour, is part of what he called the golf ecosystem.

“Our statutes state that you have to be a recognized member of a recognized tour to be a member of the PGA somewhere, and therefore have the right to play,” Waugh said in a talk about the PGA Tournament.

Addressing the LIV Golf Tour, Waugh said: “I don’t know if it’s a league, it’s not a league at the moment, but the structure of the league is flawed.”

So where does that leave the other two major tournaments and the answers to the LIV Golf Tour, which this year will feature five events in the United States starting June 30 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, just outside Portland, Ore.

As is the case with this week’s US Open, the leaders of the UK Open will find it difficult to see what will start on 14 July this year. It would be Andrews, Scotland, and Mickelson and Johnson. This means that the next major tournament, and potentially the first, to be forced into the PGA Tour-LIV Golf showdown will be the Masters.

In April, Augusta National President Fred Ridley was asked if players who were included in the PGA Tour’s opponents’ tour would be invited to play in the Masters. Ridley said: “Our mission is always to work for the interests of the game in any format. I think golf is in the right place now.”

Over the years, Augusta National has honored very traditional values ​​and has been reluctant to change. And Ridley no doubt heard what Whan had to say on Wednesday if the two hadn’t discussed it over the phone.

On the eve of the 122nd U.S. Open, will Whan’s statements slow down the exodus of PGA Tour players, especially after the British Open?

It’s hard to say. It will continue to be particularly appealing to the demographics that have received the most reception from LIV Golf’s money attractions: the old players have gone from their first level.

But if there was a message in Whan’s response to 13 questions that LIV Golf asked him about joining or joining his sport on Wednesday, it was not seen as a regular business. He could have been uncompromising with the new tour and was looking forward to his time. Most importantly, he suggested that he was not good at golf.

It was a significant observation from one of the top families in the major golf tournaments.

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