SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. — On the heels of the announcement that the Saudi Arabian-financed LIV Golf Invitational Series’ first event will include several PGA Tour players, USGA chief championships officer John Bodenhamer said Wednesday at the U.S. Women’s Open that although the USGA “prides themselves on the openness of their tournament,” they will also make their own decision about the eligibility of players at the upcoming U.S. Open in Brookline, Massachusetts, on June 13 on a case-by-case basis.
“That openness goes back to the very beginning for us,” Bodenhamer told ESPN. “That aside, we would always keep it in a place where we can make our own decision about what we might do based on what the facts are.”
On Tuesday night, a list of players participating in LIV’s first event in London at the Centurion Club on June 9-11 was released. That list included six major winners: Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Graeme McDowell. The list also included Lee Westwood and 30-year-old Talor Gooch, among others.
Earlier this month, the PGA denied releases to the players looking to play in the first LIV event, and on Wednesday it released a statement reiterating its stance.
Johnson’s inclusion was particularly surprising given that though he was rumored to be involved with LIV, the PGA Tour released a statement in late February on behalf of Johnson that aimed to “put such speculation to rest.”
Notably missing from the list was Phil Mickelson, who was confirmed to be one of the players spearheading the interest in LIV. Only 42 players in what’s expected to be a 48-player field were announced, leaving six spots open, In total, 16 of the world’s top 100 players in the world were included in the LIV field.
While he didn’t want to comment on specific names, Bodenhamer said he saw the LIV list late Tuesday night and was surprised by some names that were on the list as well as others that were absent.
“It’s not something we can control,” Bodenhamer said. “What we can control is what we do, right? That’s what we’re focused on. And we’ll make the decisions that we think are best taking everything into consideration. We’ve always kind of looked at situations as they come at us, when it comes to players and other tours and things. And I think we’ll continue to do that.”
The USGA also released on a statement on Wednesday addressing the players who have signed up for the LIV event. “We pride ourselves in being the most open championship in the world … however we reserve the right, as we always have, to review any competitor’s situation on a case-by-case basis,” the statement read.
USGA CEO Mike Whan was not present at the USGA news conference at Pine Needles on Wednesday as he traveled to Columbus for the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village. There, Whan met with the players’ advisory committee. While Bodenhamer said that LIV was not the reason for the meeting, “I’m sure it came up.”