USGA will consider path for LIV Golf players into US Open

football12 June 2024 19:00| © AFP
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Mike Whan © Getty Images

The US Golf Association will examine creating a path for LIV Golf players into the US Open in the next off-season, USGA chief executive officer Mike Whan said on Wednesday.

Saudi-backed LIV Golf, the upstart series that debuted in 2022 just ahead of that year's US Open, has 12 players in the field of 156 for this week's US Open at Pinehurst.

Big-name players departed the US PGA Tour for $25 million purses and guaranteed deals with LIV and were suspended from PGA events, so the world's top players only compete at majors.

LIV Golf events don't receive world ranking points so unless they are past major winners, most LIV players have limited chances to play their way into majors without special invitations.

"We're going to talk about it this off-season, whether or not there needs to be a path to somebody or somebodies that are performing really well on LIV that can get a chance to play in that way," Whan said.

"I think we're serious about that. Exactly what that looks like and how that'll curtail, I'm not just being coy, we haven't done that yet."

The US Open already offers a place for the prior year's developmental Korn Ferry Tour points leader and three spots for players from the prior DP World Tour Race to Dubai.

"I think it's feasible," Whan said. "I don't think it's a huge pathway, but we do offer other pathways through DP or Korn Ferry, so we know that there's an option to get there."

LIV Golf's financiers, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) and PGA Tour Enterprises, the tour's new for-profit arm created in a deal with US sports team owners, are making progress in merger talks that have dragged on for more than a year since last June's controversial framework agreement was unveiled.

Tiger Woods, among negotiators at a meeting last Friday in New York, said, "We all felt very positive in that meeting. Both sides were looking at different ways to get to the endgame."

The USGA still waits to see what comes out of those talks as it has for months.

"We've always felt like for the last maybe year and a half that we're always three months away from kind of understanding what the new structure is going to look like," Whan said.

"So before we react – what's LIV going to be? What's the PGA Tour? – we always felt like we're just about to know that answer, so let's figure that out."


Whan noted that 35 LIV Golf players were among those given an exemption into final 36-hole qualifying, although many did not make the attempt.

"If they really wanted to be here, they could go play 36 holes and qualify, and some did, to their credit," Whan said.

"We're not a closed door. If you want to be here – you've got to want to be here, but if you want to be here – there's certainly a way to get here."

Three LIV Golf players reached the field through qualifying – South African Dean Burmester and Spaniards David Puig and Eugenio Chacarra.

"There's no out-of-bounds stakes on our field criteria," Whan said. "It doesn't require a committee or an invitation. If you want to play in this field you've got an opportunity to play in this field, and we're proud of that."

LIV would have had 13 in the line-up but eighth-ranked Jon Rahm, a two-time major winner from Spain, withdrew due to a left foot injury.

The USGA, staging its 1 000th championship event this week, announced a winner's prize of $4.3 million from a total purse of $21.5 million.