USGA leaves door open for LIV golfers to find way into future U.S. Opens

Many LIV Golf members have begged governing bodies to create pathways into majors since the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) does not award points at LIV events.

After all, the Saudi-backed circuit has robust talent, including Brooks Koepka, who won the PGA Championship last year at Oak Hill. The league also has Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, and Dustin Johnson—all major winners in the past five years.

But as time wears on, exemptions into majors continue to run out.

The PGA of America has recognized this, inviting six LIV Golf players not otherwise eligible—including Talor Gooch—into next week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla.

The same goes for the United States Golf Association (USGA), which facilitates the U.S. Open.

USGA CEO Mike Whan even envisions a scenario in which LIV Golf players qualify for a U.S. Open through a special pathway, according to an interview with Golfweek.

“If you asked me a year ago, ‘What’s it going to be like in three months?’ I would have confidently given you an answer. I would have been confidently wrong,” Whan said to Golfweek.

Mike Whan, Wyndham Clark, U.S. Open

USGA CEO Mike Whan presents the championship medal to Wyndham Clark after his victory at the 2023 U.S. Open.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

“If LIV [Golf] stays as a separate entity and keeps the quality of players it’s got, can I envision a pathway to the U.S. Open through LIV? I can. But I’d like to see what the final product is, and we’re just not exactly sure we know that yet.”

Thirty-six LIV players have entered U.S. Open qualifying stages, per Golfweek. Eight players have already received exemptions into the field, thanks to their triumphs in recent majors or current OWGR standing. Of that list, only Tyrrell Hatton has not won a major, but since he joined LIV in 2024, his OWGR ranking has not plummeted like other LIV players who joined at the onset. Hatton is currently ranked 17th in the OWGR.

Nevertheless, worries over OWGR rankings could disappear if the USGA adopts a new strategy for LIV players.

But the U.S. Open prides itself on being just that: an open. Anyone can qualify, should they shoot scores low enough to make it through the qualifying stages.

The USGA rarely hands out special exemptions, too. But it recently awarded Tiger Woods a special invite to Pinehurst No. 2, the site of this year’s U.S. Open. Woods is a three-time U.S. Open champion, winning in 2000, 2002, and 2008.

With all this in mind, professional golf remains divided and in disarray. Until the PGA Tour strikes a deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), or until LIV Golf’s future is finalized, these potential pathways will remain an abstract thought.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top