Earlier this year, Talor Gooch — who recently made the move from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf — qualified for the U.S. Open by qualifying for the Tour Championship. But the USGA has changed the requirements to be eligible, and that’s not sitting well with Phil Mickelson.
In a recent change, the USGA said golfers “must be both qualified and eligible for the Tour Championship.” Because Gooch is playing for LIV now, he isn’t playing on the PGA Tour anymore. That, as a result, doesn’t make him “eligible” for the U.S. Open.
Mickelson blasted USGA CEO Mike Whan in a tweet earlier this week about the situation and the decision to keep Gooch from playing in the U.S. Open.
“Hey Mike, what about changing a rule and making it retroactive to exclude someone who has already qualified?” Mickelson tweeted. “How can Talor Gooch not take that personal? It’s a direct attack on him and his career. How does it benefit the usga or US open? It doesn’t. Just a d!*k move.”
A user then said Gooch might not be one of the best in the world since he didn’t qualify. But Mickelson fired back by pointing out the old rules, which were in place when Gooch played in the Tour Championship and have since been changed.
“He qualified 9 months ago via Tour championship,” Mickelson said. “3 months ago Whan changed the wording on the qualifying criteria to take it away. Total d!*k move by Whan. He leads our governing body. Sad.”
The USGA addressed the situation in an email to Golfweek, saying the organization looks at the criteria to be eligible every year. As a result, the group decided it was time to change the rules.
“The USGA annually reviews its exemption criteria for all championships, and we did for the 2023 US Open,” a spokesperson told Golfweek. “Importantly, we provided more clarity to a specific exemption category to reflect that players must be both qualified and eligible for the Tour Championship, beginning with the 2023 U.S. Open. The change was not made retroactively, but rather as a part of our annual review process and included within several other changes made to the criteria for the upcoming 2023 championship.”
LIV Golf has been a hot topic of conversation around the golf world over the last two seasons. A fair amount of PGA Tour players made the move, including Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. The relationship between the two remains rocky as LIV gets off the ground.
The U.S. Open is set for June 15-18 in Los Angeles.