Imagine a LIV Golf player walking away with one of golf’s major trophies after the last couple of drama-filled weeks?
Well, that could happen in just a few days at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
A long list of golfers from the new rival series of the PGA Tour are set to compete in the 2022 U.S. Open, which gets underway with the first round on Thursday.
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Just last week, as LIV Golf held its inaugural event, the PGA Tour handed down suspensions to golfers partaking in the controversial breakaway league. Now, players from LIV Golf and the PGA Tour will compete alongside one another as they chase one of the sport’s most prestigious pieces of hardware.
Here’s what you need to know about LIV golfers at this week’s U.S. Open.
Why are LIV Golf players allowed to compete in the 2022 U.S. Open?
Since the PGA Tour doesn’t run any of the four majors, the Tour’s suspension doesn't apply to those tournaments. Whether LIV Golfers can play in majors is ultimately up to the governing bodies that oversee them.
In this case, the United States Golf Association (USGA), which runs the U.S. Open, opted not to disqualify LIV golfers.
“We pride ourselves in being the most open championship in the world and the players who have earned the right to compete in this year’s championship, both via exemption and qualifying, will have the opportunity to do so,” the USGA said in a statement. “Our field criteria were set prior to entries opening earlier this year and it’s not appropriate, nor fair to competitors, to change criteria once established.
“Regarding players who may choose to play in London this week, we simply asked ourselves this question -- should a player who had earned his way into the 2022 U.S. Open, via our published field criteria, be pulled out of the field as a result of his decision to play in another event? And we ultimately decided that they should not.
“Our decision regarding our field for the 2022 U.S. Open should not be construed as the USGA supporting an alternative organizing entity, nor supportive of any individual player actions or comments. Rather, it is simply a response to whether or not the USGA views playing in an alternative event, without the consent of their home tour, an offense that should disqualify them for the U.S. Open.”
Whether the boards that oversee the other majors will reach the same decision remains to be seen. The fourth and final major of the year, the Open Championship, is scheduled for July 14-17 and is run by the R&A.
Which LIV Golf players are competing in the 2022 U.S. Open?
The 2022 U.S. Open field includes 13 players who participated in the LIV Golf Invitational: Richard Bland, Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Branden Grace, Sam Horsfield, Dustin Johnson, Jinichiro Kozuma, Phil Mickelson, Jed Morgan, Kevin Na, Shaun Norris, Louis Oosthuizen and James Piot. Five of those players (Garcia, Grace, Johnson, Na and Oosthuizen) have officially resigned their PGA Tour membership.
Former major winners Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, both of whom are slated to make their LIV Golf debuts in a couple of weeks, are also in the U.S. Open field. DeChambeau (2020) and Dustin Johnson (2016) are the only LIV golfers playing in this year's tournament with a U.S. Open victory on their résumé.
Three sets of LIV golfers are in the same group for Rounds 1 and 2 (Sergio Garcia and Kevin Na, Sam Horsfield and Shaun Norris, Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen). Meanwhile, 2021 U.S. Amateur champion James Piot will be in one of the most high-profile groups with defending tournament champ Jon Rahm and two-time major winner Collin Morikawa.