McIlroy takes aim at LIV Golf defectors ahead of U.S. Open
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The United States Golf Association’s chief executive, Mike Whan, has suggested that golfers who decide to play in the controversial new LIV Golf Series could face bans from future stagings of the US Open. A number of players have already been removed from the PGA Tour, including the likes of Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, as a result of their participation in the Saudi-backed series that has taken golf by storm over the last few months.
The breakaway tournament has dominated the headlines in the build-up to this year’s US Open, which is set to get underway at the Country Club in Massachusetts this weekend. Although the PGA Tour has no direct power over the US Open, Whan has already insisted that rebel LIV golfers could be blacklisted from the event in future if the saga drags on without a resolution to suit all parties.
“Yeah, I could foresee a day,” Whan told reporters, as reported by The Guardian, when asked if he could see certain players being prevented from taking part at the US Open at some point down the line.
“Do I know what that day looks like? No, I don’t. To be honest with you, what we’re talking about was different two years ago, and it was different two months ago than it is today.
“We’ve been doing this for 127 years, so I think the three of us and everybody else that we work with need to take a long-term view of this and see where these things go so we’re not going to be a knee-jerk reaction to what we do.
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“But the question was: ‘Could you envision a day where it would be harder for some folks doing different things to get into a US Open?’ I could. Will that be true? I don’t know, but I can definitely foresee that day.”
The players involved in the LIV Golf Series have been heavily criticised for their position over the last few weeks, mainly due to accusations of Saudi sportswashing and the large sums of money involved in bringing them to the tournament. A strongly-worded letter from an organisation formed by the families of some of those killed in the 9/11 attacks was recently sent to the agents of Johnson, DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed, all of whom are scheduled to play in this weekend’s US Open.
“We ran this championship by asking ourselves, did those people disqualify themselves from the 2022 [US] Open? We believed the answer to that was no and that’s the decision we made,” added Whan.
“I get it, it’s a news story, we’re not going to run away from the news story. We had to make some tough decisions that not everybody agrees with. Where this will go, I don’t know.
“We have complete support for the 9/11 families. Listen, we’re all Americans, and if anybody doesn’t remember that day, then shame on you. That’s alive and well in my head.
“I remember where I was, what I was doing, who I was talking to when the first plane went in, we lost a couple of neighbours. But as it relates to the USGA and this championship, that was the decision we had to make a week ago, and that’s the decision we made.”
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