Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and others who committed to play in the inaugural LIV golf tournament this week will be allowed to play in next week’s US Open at The Country Club in Brookline, the USGA announced Tuesday.
The full list is: Johnson (No. 15 world ranking), Louis Oosthuizen (21), Kevin Na (34), Sergio Garcia (57), Richard Bland (67), Shaun Norris (68), Mickelson (72), Junichiero Kozuma (106), Branden Grace (123), Johnson (15), Martin Kaymer (215), Jed Morgan (239), and James Piot (2021 US Amateur champion).
The USGA said that because the criteria for making the field were established before entries opened, it wouldn’t be fair to golfers to change them after the fact.
The Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series begins play this week at the Centurion Club in London.
“Regarding players who may choose to play in London this week,” the USGA said in a statement, “we simply asked ourselves this question — should a player who had earned his way into the 2022 US 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 USGA also wanted to make clear that allowing the golfers to play “should not be construed as the USGA supporting an alternative organizing entity, nor supportive of any individual player actions or comments.”
The latter is likely directed at Mickelson, whose comments about Saudi Arabia’s human rights atrocities, including the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, prompted Mickelson to stay away from the Masters and last month’s PGA Championship.
The LIV series, headed by Greg Norman and backed by the controversial Saudi regime, has come squarely into the crosshairs of the American golf establishment. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan released a statement promising “disciplinary action” — expected to be at least a suspension and up to a ban — for anyone who plays in an LIV event.
The fourth event of the LIV series comes to the Boston area Sept. 2-4 at The International.
PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh spoke out against LIV two weeks ago and indicated that players may not be welcome in his organization’s two events, the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. The organizers of the Masters and British Open have not made their feelings public.
Johnson and the other LIV participants surely factored in the backlash when accepting the deal. Johnson reportedly will be paid $125 million for playing in the LIV, which should more than make up for his loss of earnings from the PGA Tour and from sponsors, including RBC, which already announced it is dropping him.
Johnson and Garcia resigned their PGA Tour cards in order to play in the LIV.
Johnson said Tuesday he “had to think long and hard” about leaving the PGA Tour, which seemingly ends his hopes of competing in the Ryder Cup for the United States.
“Ultimately, I decided to come and do this,” Johnson said. “I’m excited about this. Obviously the Ryder Cup is unbelievable and something that has meant a lot to me. ... Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that again, but I don’t make the rules.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.