Phil Mickelson and other LIV golfers set to reunite with PGA Tour rivals at US Open


So… it’s back to regular programming in the golf world.

If only for a week.

There will be a major championship this week, with the US Open starting Thursday at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

Surely there will still be residual chatter regarding the controversial and red-hot LIV Golf Invitational series venture, led by polarizing CEO Greg Norman and backed by an endless amount of tainted Saudi cash.

But the attention of the golf world – which was diverted to the inaugural LIV Golf event this week outside London (where Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson were the headlines) – will return to so-called mainstream major championship golf. as we did. knew it, with the US Open at stake.

Although PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan on Thursday announced the suspension of all 17 players attending the LIV event in London and all following players, no one is banned from playing this week at Brookline.

The USGA, which may later follow suit with the PGA Tour and line up with Monahan in the future, announced last week that its Open Championship will remain open to those who have qualified.

Phil Mickelson
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That includes the 51-year-old Mickelson, whose heartbreak of the US Open (six-time runner-up) is one of this championship’s enduring storylines, the only major trophy he misses in his dogged pursuit of finishing a Grand Slam in career.

It also includes Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer – all former US Open winners firmly entrenched in Norman’s LIV Golf series – who have gone so far as to resign from their PGA Tour memberships. And Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion, who announced Friday that he has signed with LIV.

These are fast, polarizing and complicated times in golf.

However, the task that awaits us at the Country Club is not very complicated.

Survival is the name of the week – as it always is at a US Open. The legendary course, which oozes history, will be laid with the usual USGA brute force, which means the rough will be choking and the small greens will be tough.

Jon Rahm, defending US Open champion

There will be plenty for players to deal with while navigating holes 1 through 18 of the Country Club as their thoughts on LIV Golf, Saudi money, PGA Tour allegiances and the star-power divide that unfolds in the game will be pushed back to the back of people’s minds.

Among the big storylines this week is the story that unfolded on the venerable course, which has undergone a restoration by renowned course designer Gil Hanse.

The last time the US Open was played at the Country Club was in 1988, when Curtis Strange defeated Nick Faldo in an 18-hole elimination match to win his first consecutive US Open title.

The Country Club also hosted the 1999 Ryder Cup, when the United States made their historic comeback from a 10-6 deficit entering the singles on Sunday to defeat Europe, 14 ½-13 ½ – highlighted by this miraculous birdie bomb that Justin Leonard drained on the 17th hole against Jose Maria Olazabal to land the chalice and ignite that wild American party on the green that has always irritated the Europeans.

More recently, the club hosted the 2013 US Amateur, won by Matt Fitzpatrick, now one of the best players in the world. This American amateur field was littered with players who are now prominent on the PGA Tour, such as current world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, defending PGA champion Justin Thomas, Canadian Corey Conners, DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele , Max Homa, Will Zalatoris, Talor Gooch and Cameron Young.

The most significant story in the club’s history was the 1913 US Open won by 20-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet, who beat Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the playoffs. In 1963, Julius Boros defeated Arnold Palmer and Jacky Cupit in the US Open qualifiers.

The defending champion is Jon Rahm, who prevailed at Torrey Pines a year ago to win his first career major and has been relatively quiet since.

Dustin Johnson
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Mickelson will perhaps be the most fascinating player. Both how he will play and how he will be received by spectators as he emerges from his four-month exile after explosive comments he made about the Saudis and the PGA Tour (in what he said, it was a private conversation published by the journalist) will be examined.

The US Open will be the first major championship Mickelson has entered this year after skipping the Masters (his favorite tournament which he won three times) and the PGA Championship (which he would have defended in May).

« Hey, that’s why we’re watching, » said Paul Azinger, a former player and current NBC analyst who will air this week.

Former NBC player and current analyst Notah Begay III echoed Azinger: “That’s why we’re watching. We want to see what the answer will be. This [LIV Golf] is a major thing happening. This is a major break for the sport. I don’t know how the American golf fan… we don’t know how that reaction is going to be. I think it’s going to be highly anticipated.

Leonard, also a member of the NBA broadcast team this week, said he thinks the public will continue to embrace Mickelson despite the fact that his decision to take the Saudi money put off many fans.

Boos and outward backlash aren’t much of a part of golf spectator culture, except for the occasional fan who has been overserved at the various watering holes around the courses.

« I think the answer [to Mickelson] will be mostly positive because he’s been a fan favorite for so many years,” Leonard said. “I’m definitely more curious about where his game is, just because he hasn’t played competitively in so long. I think we’re all curious to see both how he plays and how he’s received.


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