PGA: USGA CEO Mike Whan weighs in on LIV decision

Although the USGA is allowing LIV Golf Invitational Series players to participate in this week’s U.S. Open, CEO Mike Whan said Wednesday he is “saddened by what’s happening in the professional game” and is worried about how the upstart tour will impact the sport.

“I like watching the best players in the world come together to play, and this is going to fracture that,” Whan said at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., where the U.S. Open begins Thursday.

“I’ve heard that this is good for the game,” he said. “At least from my outside view right now, it looks like it’s good for a few folks playing the game. But I’m struggling with how this is good for the game.”

Despite these concerns, the USGA ultimately made the decision to allow golfers who played in last week’s inaugural LIV event in England to participate in the U.S. Open. Those players, who include Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, were suspended by the PGA Tour for taking part in the LIV event.

“We did sit down and have a long conversation about a week before the U.S. Open — did where somebody else play and what promoter they played it with disqualify them for this event?” Whan said. “We decided ‘no’ on that, with all of the awareness that not everybody would agree with that decision.”

Whan pointed out that multiple golfers played for the same promoter in Saudi Arabia in February with the PGA Tour’s approval.

However, Whan did not guarantee this decision wouldn’t change for U.S. Open tournaments in the future.

When asked if he could see it becoming more difficult for “breakaway” players to get into the major, Whan said, “Yes. Will that be true? I don’t know, but I could foresee that day.”

He was quick to clarify that he “didn’t mean to send some sort of tremor that everything’s going to change tomorrow,” and that many factors will come into play in future decisions.

“Everyone needs to take a long-term view of this and see where these things go,” Whan said. “It’s not going to be a knee-jerk reaction to what we do.”

— Field Level Media

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