Why Phil Mickelson and other LIV Golf players can play at the US Open

Phil Mickelson and a number of PGA Tour ‘rebels’ will be allowed to play at this year’s US Open, despite signing up to the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Mickelson is one of 15 now-former PGA Tour players, at the time of writing, to have signed up to the highly controversial Saudi-backed tour.

The event has created mass headlines in golf over the last week. Those who have signed up have been placed under heavy scrutiny, in light of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the lack of equality between men and women in the state.

In February, Mickelson was asked whether he would play in the LIV Golf Series. He questioned why he would even consider it, given the above reasons.

However, the American golf legend performed a shocking U-turn. He signed up for the LIV tour, which completed its first event last week. Other players followed him.

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Former world number one, Dustin Johnson, announced he was resigning from the PGA Tour to play in LIV Golf.

Not every PGA Tour player, however, followed Johnson’s actions in resigning. However, the decision was taken out of their hands last Thursday, when the PGA Tour suspended all of its members currently playing in LIV Golf.

The ruling means that they cannot play in PGA Tour events. So why can they play in this week’s US Open?

Why can Phil Mickelson, et al, play in the US Open?

The US Open is governed by the United States Golf Association (USGA) – not the PGA Tour. That means that, although the PGA Tour have made their own decision, the USGA are not obliged to come to the same conclusion.

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In fact, the USGA oversees the PGA Tour, and ensures that the correct rules are in place.

The USGA does not cover all four of golf’s Majors, however. The PGA Championship is run by the PGA Tour. It is likely, therefore, that the LIV Golf rebels will be banned from that particular event.

Meanwhile, The Masters is overseen by Augusta National. The Open is controlled by worldwide golf governing body, R&A. It remains to be seen what their verdict will be on eligibility rights for the golfers in question.

What has the USGA said about the LIV players?

In a statement, as per Golf Digest, the USGA said: “We pride ourselves in being the most open championship in the world. 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.

“Our field criteria were set prior to entries opening earlier this year. 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 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 they should not.”

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