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The USGA Will Not Block LIV Golf Players From Next Week's U.S. Open

Players such as Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia have withdrawn their PGA Tour memberships, fearing suspension and the USGA following suit. The USGA said that all players who have earned the right to compete via exemption or qualifying may do so.

HERTFORDSHIRE, England -- The United States Golf Association said Tuesday that it will not prohibit players from competing in next week’s U.S. Open due to their affiliation with the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Players such as Dustin Johnson, Kevin Na, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen have withdrawn their memberships from the PGA Tour with perhaps the fear that they might be suspended, thus leading to the U.S. Open honoring it.

All four of those players are exempt for next week’s U.S. Open and competing at the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event this week at Centurion Club, which begins Thursday.

But the USGA said lack of consent from the PGA Tour to compete in an alternative event or series would not keep them from playing in the U.S. Open.

“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.’’

The controversy surrounding the event, including its backing by the Saudi Public Investment Fund and the threat LIV Golf poses to the PGA Tour, has left many wondering if the major championships would take action.

Although the PGA Tour has no jurisdiction over the majors, it does work closely with them and many exemption criteria are tied to PGA Tour performance.

Phil Mickelson, who earned a spot in the 2022 U.S. Open by winning last year’s PGA Championship, has not withdrawn his PGA Tour membership and said in a Monday interview with Read that he felt confident he would not be denied a spot in the majors.

Mickelson, 51, is exempt for the Masters and PGA for life, and for the British Open through age 60 due to his victories in those tournaments.

“I’ve had many conversations with the organizations that run the majors, "Mickelson said. “And I do want to keep those conversations private. But I am looking forward to playing the U.S. Open and I’ll be there. I’m under the understanding that I’m able to play.’’

The 122nd U.S. Open begins June 16 at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Jon Rahm is the defending champion.

The field is mostly set after final qualifying events took place around the country and in Canada on Monday.

“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,’’ the USGA said in its statement. “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.’’ 

Ed's Note: The USGA has a business relationship with Buffalo Group, which owns and operates Morning Read. MR is the exclusive golf content partner of Sports Illustrated and an independent media outlet.