Golf major chief makes stunning LIV revelation: "A little bit of both"

USGA chief executive Mike Whan says he can envision LIV Golf players have a clear pathway created for the U.S. Open but doesn't believe it's necessary.

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka

Mike Whan says he can envision the USGA creating a direct pathway for LIV Golf players to access the U.S. Open but doesn't believe it's necessary. 

The chief executive made the claim to Matt Adams in an interview for the Golf Channel. 

Whan's comments come 24 hours after the PGA of America announced that seven invites have been extended to breakaway tour players for the forthcoming PGA Championship.


In total, as many as 16 LIV Golf players will tee it up at Valhalla next week. That's three more than the 2024 Masters. 

It would have been 17 but former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen reportedly turned down an invite

Talor Gooch, LIV's individual champion for 2023, was given an invite despite not playing on other OWGR-accredited tours since June 2022. 

His invitation therefore represented the first time a major governing body acknowledged a player's accomplishments on LIV. 

Whan's comments will only add to the idea that there is a thawing of tensions. 

Asked if the USGA was feeling pressure to create new pathways or simply tell LIV players to go an qualify, Whan said: "Well, it's a little bit of both Matt. 

"I would say that, a lot of people forget the first LIV event happened the weekend before the U.S. Open in 2022 and a lot of players were suspended and that's kind of where the frustrations and challenges came in professional men's golf. 

"And everybody was what's the USGA, what is the U.S. Open going to do? 

"And we said, quite simply, if you've qualified for the U.S. Open you are going to play in the U.S. Open and [we] sent a pretty clear message early on."

Whan's comments will no doubt be of interest to LIV's posterboy, Phil Mickelson. 

Mickelson previously described Whan as 'a d---'. 


It is clear Lefty believed the likes of Whan were part of a concerted effort to freeze LIV players out of the majors to help the PGA Tour keep their stranglehold on the sport. 

Whan added: "Last year, in 2023, we had [and I'm] not sure if I have my numbers exactly right but we had 15 LIV players played at LACC. 

"Of the 50 players that we are calling LIV players, that's 30 per cent of their tour teed it up at LACC. 

"I think this year between the seven or eight players that have qualified through major wins there's another 29 or 30 players that are already exempt into the final stage of qualifying if they want to qualify, that's up to them. 

"But nothing is stopping you from playing the U.S. Open and nothing ever has and nothing ever will.

"I think back to your point about pathways, we've tried to... we always thought and maybe we've been wrong like a lot of fans, we always thought where this was going to net out, whatever it was going to net out, was close."

Watch the full clip here:

"So, let's not aim at a moving target. Let's figure out where LIV and where the PGA Tour and where the European Tour and the rest are going to settle. 

"And now, I think, you know six or seven months later it's still moving and difficult to assess but I think when when we get some settlement and understand the future if they are separate entities then yeah, I can certainly envision a pathway no different than the pathway we've provided for the DP World Tour. 

"It's feasible for me [but] it's not necessary [because] we don't stop everybody from getting in. The field isn't closed off."

The 2024 U.S. Open will be staged at Pinehurst No.2 over 13-16 June. 

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