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With the US Open teeing off on Thursday, United States Golf Association (USGA) CEO Mike Whan explained why he decided to allow LIV Golf competitors to play in the third major of the year.
LIV Golf competitors ruffled the feathers of the PGA Tour when they broke from the organization to play in the Saudi-backed league, and their return for the major was put under the microscope.
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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, same promoter,” Whan said Wednesday, via Golf.com. “We also had to ask the question, if you’re going to put that kind of clause in, who gets in, we’ve got to go back to 9,300 people and played last week but who played ever, where, sponsored by. It becomes a pretty slippery slope to try to apply that across 9,300 people.”
The USGA was put in a tough spot about whether to bar players who have already qualified after jumping last minute for LIV Golf. Ultimately, Whan said he did not think players disqualified themselves from the US Open.
As for the future, Whan said it could be more difficult for those golfers to get in.
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“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 reevaluate field criteria. We would any year,” he said. “We will take a look at what the landscape looks like.”
When asked whether LIV Golf players could be banned from the US Open in the future, Whan responded simply, “Yes.”
Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel and Bryson DeChambeau are all competing in the tournament.
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Mickelson has never won the US Open – the only major tournament missing in his trophy case. DeChambeau won the US Open in 2020, Johnson won it in 2016 and Reed’s best finish in the Open was fourth place.