It’s abundantly clear to anyone who has been paying attention in the golf world that the LIV Golf debate isn’t going away. As the Saudi-backed breakout league plays its third event, at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, the PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic is being played in Detroit.
Davis Love III, who is playing the Rocket Mortgage, expressed concern over what defectors from the tour are doing to the prestigious Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup international competitions. And he thinks he has a solution. Although the PGA Tour has indefinitely suspended LIV competitors, Love thinks other golf governing bodies — namely, the ones that operate the sport’s four major tournaments — may need extra urging to do the same.
“Well, here’s the biggest lever, and it’s not the nice lever,’’ Love said, per Sports Illustrated. “But if a group of veterans and a group of top current players align with 150 guys on the Tour and we say, ‘Guess what, we’re not playing,’ that solves it, right? If LIV guys play in the U.S. Open, we’re not playing. If they sue in court, and they win, well, we’re not playing. You know, there won’t be a U.S. Open. It’s just like a baseball strike.”
The United States Golf Association, which operates the U.S. Open, allowed LIV Golf players to compete in the 2022 tournament, citing the logistics of vetting the thousands of potential qualifiers. But CEO Mike Whan also said before the tournament that the association could change its qualification criteria after this season. That could potentially make it more difficult for LIV Golf participants to qualify in the future.
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The biggest disruptions from LIV Golf are, as Love hints, intangible.
To have so many players playing in majors who cannot compete in the Presidents Cup and likely can’t compete in the Ryder Cup artificially inflates the field and, for many players, makes large PGA Tour events an exhibition. And according to Love, the players hold the power to ensure that’s not the case.
“Some of them understood [they may not be competing for the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup],” Love said. “Some of them think they are going to court or whatever and are going to prevail, and they’re going to get to come back. What they don’t seem to understand is that players make the rules. So we can strengthen the rules rather than loosening the rules, right?”
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In other words, Love wants PGA Tour members to close ranks just as many LIV Golf players already have.
When is the 2023 U.S. Open?
While Love was likely just throwing the U.S. Open out as an example, if it is an event where PGA Tour players want to take a stand, it’s far enough out to coordinate: The 2023 U.S. Open will be held from June 15-18, 2023.
Notably, it will be played at Los Angeles Country Club for the first time in the event’s history.
That is to say, players missing it would help to neuter what would otherwise be a first for the U.S. Open, which would hurt marketing for the PGA Tour.
Jacob Camenker contributed to this report.