The USGA released a statement on Tuesday confirming that those who play in this week's LIV Golf Series Invitational event in London will be allowed to participate in next week's U.S. Open at The Country Club.
"Regarding players who choose to play in London this week, we simply asked ourselves this question -- should a player who had earned his way into the 2022 U.S. Open, via our published field criteria, be pulled out of the field as a result of his decision to play in another event?," the USGA stated. "And ultimately decided that they should not."
This is music to the ears of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, who both voiced their intent to play in the U.S. Open despite speculation of being barred from the field due to their participation in the rival golf league to the PGA Tour. Talor Gooch, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Shaun Norris, Richard Bland, James Piot and Jed Morgan are also exempt for the U.S. Open and likely to make the trip from London to Boston.
"Our decision regarding our field for the 2022 U.S. Open should not be construed as the USGA supporting an alternative organizing entity, nor supportive of any individual player actions or comments," the USGA continued. "Rather, it is simply a response to whether or not the USGA views playing in an alternative event, without the consent of their home tour, an offense that should disqualify them for U.S. Open."
From a broader perspective, this looks to be a blow to the PGA Tour in their efforts to retain talent. It is hard to imagine the three other major championships not following in the footsteps of the USGA as these events do not fall under the purview of the PGA Tour.
While suspensions, expulsions and possible court battles were all considered, what is stopping players from participating in the LIV Golf Series Invitational in conjunction with the four major championships? Johnson's most recent major title came at the 2020 Masters and gives him a lifetime pass to Augusta National as well as exemptions to the PGA Championship and Open Championship through 2025. Meanwhile his U.S. Open victory at Oakmont comes with a 10-year exemption which is good through 2026.
Mickelson is in a similar position as his historic win at the 2021 PGA Championship puts him in the fields for the U.S. Open and Open Championship through 2026 when he will be a newly minted 56-year-old. Like the Masters, winning the PGA Championship also offers a lifetime exemption.
This was only one of two dominos that still needed to fall in what this LIV Golf saga has become. While the USGA -- and possibly all the major governing bodies -- have sided with the players rather than the PGA Tour, that does not mean all is lost for commissioner Jay Monahan and those in Ponte Vedra.
Outside of Johnson, Mickelson and Garcia for his 2017 Masters triumph, the PGA Tour can simply wait these players out if the Official World Golf Rankings come to the conclusion that the LIV Golf Series is ineligible for world ranking points. The PGA Tour is one of the seven original founders of the OWGR -- the major bodies, DP World Tour and World Golf Championships are the other six -- and this remains the biggest thing the PGA Tour has going their way in addition to the allure of legacy, breaking records, etc.