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With the U.S. 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.
Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA, speaks to the media at a press conference during a practice round prior to the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 15, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
“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 U.S. Open.
As for the future, Whan said it could be more difficult for those golfers to get in.
Dustin Johnson hits on the seventh hole during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf tournament at The Country Club, Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Brookline, Mass. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
“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 U.S. 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.
Phil Mickelson watches his shot on the 15th hole during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf tournament at The Country Club, Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Brookline, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Mickelson has never won the U.S. Open – the only major tournament missing in his trophy case. DeChambeau won the U.S. Open in 2020, Johnson won it in 2016 and Reed’s best finish in the Open was fourth place.
Ryan Gaydos is the sports editor for Fox News and Fox Business. Story tips can be sent to Ryan.Gaydos@fox.com.