BROOKLINE, Mass. — When PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan took his hardline stance against players who signed up to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series and suspended them from competing in PGA Tour events, everyone waited. see what the next step was. going to be in the world of golf.
Everyone was waiting to see what the USGA was going to do last week, with the US Open next on the schedule.
Wouldn’t the USGA welcome the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and other top players to the US Open, which begins Thursday at The Country Club?
The answer was no. After Monahan and the PGA Tour announced their suspensions, the USGA did nothing to alter his plan and did not follow his example. They welcomed every player who had qualified in their field, including Mickelson and Johnson, a former champion.
Herein lies the crux of Monahan and the PGA Tour: If the governing bodies of the major championships don’t align with the PGA Tour and ban players from being involved with the LIV Tour, Monahan may have some major problems.
Because if players aligned with LIV Golf are not going to be eligible to play in the major championships, that could be a deal breaker for players who jump onto the LIV tour.
If they are allowed to play, the PGA Tour suspensions, even if they hold up in court if the players sue (which is expected), will take a lot of starch out of them.
The powers that be at Augusta National, who have been conspicuous by their silence, don’t really face much urgency to respond to LIV because the next Masters isn’t until April 2023.
Neither do the powers at the PGA of America, which runs the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup, because the next PGA isn’t until May 2023 and the Ryder Cup isn’t until September 2023.
After this US Open, the next major will be the British Open in July. Will we hear from Royal & Ancient’s governing body banning players?
On Wednesday, the eve of the 122nd US Open, USGA CEO Mike Whan didn’t commit to what the organization might do in the future regarding LIV competitors, but reading between the lines, it didn’t seem like he had plans to ban them.
“We definitely feel responsibility for this game, and we feel responsibility for the competitors that play it,” Whan said. “We sat down and had a long talk about a week before the US Open, [asking,] ‘Where did anyone else play and what promoter did they play it with, disqualified them from this event?’ We decided no, fully aware that not everyone would agree with that decision.
“Whether we all like it or not, in February, 30 guys played for the same promoter in Saudi Arabia. [at the Saudi International] with an acceptable release from the PGA Tour, and for years the DP World Tour [formerly known as the European Tour] Had an event there, same promoter.
“I’m sure there are players who came through our ranks and maybe played together who are sponsored by those different [sponsors]. So we asked ourselves the question of one, a week before if you play in a place where you are not approved to play, would you be disqualified for the US Open 2022? And 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, we have to go back to 9,300 people. [who attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open]. … It becomes quite a slippery slope trying to apply that to 9,300 people.”
Whan is close to Monahan.
“Jay and I are friends,” he said. “I was at the Memorial and he actually brought me in to talk about the distance. [issues in the game]. we don’t really talk about this [LIV]. At the end of the day, we do a lot of things together.”
But apparently they don’t suspend players together.
“Somebody asked me the other morning, ‘Have you talked to Martin Slumbers [CEO of the R&A]?’ Whan said. “I talk to Martin Slumbers all the time. We don’t talk about our field criteria. We all run championships. Everybody is different in the way we run those championships.”
This might not be good news for the PGA Tour.