Since last week, when several high-profile players discovered a dangerous rift by leaving the PGA Tour to join the Saudi-backed LIV circuit, golf has been waiting for the seniors to make a stand.
The top prizes, those that create sporting history, bring in the best sponsors and are marked in red on each player’s calendar, are the 4 Majors: Masters Tournament, US Open, British Open and PGA Championship. None of these are subject to a professional tour, but are overseen by four distinct entities.
Their entry list always features the best in the world, and as with tennis, the reputation of the greatest players in history depends on the number of players they manage to win.
With such historical and media power, the four “Great Greats” are now the focus of the battle for the future of the men’s professional circuit in the United States. When the PGA Tour decided last week to suspend 17 players who sided with LIV Golf, everyone was wondering who they would be standing with. A longtime alliance with the recognized tours in the United States and Europe, it was reasonable to believe that they would ignore the new Arab circle.
But from their side, they received only a weak response. Mike Wan, chief executive of the USGA, said his organization would consider making it more difficult for LIV golf players to participate in the US Open in the future.
But in the meantime in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, everyone is ready to start this edition of the tournament (June 16-19), in which the top 29 of the standings will participate, despite the absence of Tiger Woods.
“I am sad – explained Wan – for what is happening between the pros. I have heard that this is good for the game. From my point of view, this is good for some players, but I cannot understand how it is good for the game.”
In fact, Whan recalls other projects, she started on tour and just couldn’t stand the passage of time. “I’ve said it many times: I’ve seen so many initiatives born that are no longer with us after only two seasons.”
His words come a month after PGA CEO Seth Waugh strongly endorsed the PGA Tour as part of what he called “the golf ecosystem.” “Our charter – said Waugh – states that in order to be a PGA member, and therefore be eligible to play, you must be an official member of a recognized tour.”
This year, at the course of The Country Club (among the oldest golf clubs in the US), Mickelson dreams of a Grand Slam championship in a tournament that has charmed him, finishing second six times. He is one of the opponents who has moved to LIV Golf and therefore all eyes will be on him.
There will be an extraordinary silence during this US Open: every shot will keep the audience and sponsors in suspense.
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