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USGA CEO doesn’t rule out new pathway for LIV players into future U.S. Opens

A direct pathway for LIV Golf members into the U.S. Open?

USGA CEO Mike Whan wouldn’t rule it out for the future, telling Golfweek during this week’s U.S. Open media day that while such exemption criteria wouldn’t be added for this year’s championship at Pinehurst, that could change if the current landscape of professional golf remains unchanged.

“If you asked me a year ago, ‘What’s it going to be like in three months?’ I would have confidently given you an answer. I would have been confidently wrong,” Whan told Golfweek. “If LIV stays as a separate entity and keeps the quality of players that it’s got, can I envision a pathway to the U.S. Open through LIV? I can, but I’d like to see what the final product is, and we’re just not exactly sure we know that yet.”

Whan’s comments come on the heels of the PGA Championship inviting several LIV players, including a handful ranked outside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking (world No. 644 Talor Gooch was among those invited). And earlier this year, Augusta National extended a special invite to Joaquin Niemann into last month’s Masters.

Eight LIV players are already exempt into next week’s U.S. Open, either as recent major winners, past PGA Championship winners or the OWGR – Bryson DeChambeau, Tyrrell Hatton, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Cameron Smith. Another 36 are currently planning on qualifying, per Golfweek.