USGA Admits To Not Caring About The U.S. Open Strength Of Field While Defending Rule Change Keeping Talor Gooch Out Of The Tournament

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Talor Gooch may have become the first LIV golfer to win back-to-back events this past week with his victory in Singapore, but that doesn’t mean he’s earned a spot in the new-look US Open. The American believes a recent rule change about requirements to get into the major championship was made just to spite him, while the USGA is claiming that isn’t the case.

In years past, players could be exempt into the U.S. Open by “qualifying” for the Tour Championship at the end of the PGA Tour season, which Gooch did in 2022. In February 2023, the USGA changed the language of the exemption for the 2023 U.S. Open to say “players who qualified and were eligible.”

Gooch is not eligible to play in this year’s Tour Championships given his move to LIV Golf, therefore he went from being exempt into the U.S. Open to not thanks to the governing body switching up the language.


Whether you agree with the rule change or not, there is no arguing that the USGA’s change in language has made life more difficult for LIV golfers.

“That was obviously disappointing because that changed rule only affected one person, which was me,” Gooch said on the 73rd Hole Podcast earlier this year.

Talor Gooch Has His $4 Million LIV Golf Australia Winnings Cut In Half
Talor Gooch won back-to-back LIV Golf events in Australia and Singapore. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

USGA CEO Mike Whan Doesn’t Want The Best For The U.S. Open

Gooch has received a special exemption into the PGA Championship in two weeks, but USGA CEO Mike Whan isn’t about to give him one for the U.S. Open.

Whan isn’t worried about having the best players in the world compete in the country’s open championship; he actually said that out loud.

“I’m not concerned about not having the greatest players in the world,” Whan said during a pre-tournament presser this week. “Any time we make changes to our criteria going forward it impacts somebody and that stinks, but we can only look forward.”

“I hope [Gooch] gets in but we’re not going to change our criteria and I’m not concerned about the quality of the US Open field,” Whan added. “We have fewer exempt spots than the other majors and because of that we take more heat on.”

Mike Whan’s job is to put on the best events in golf, yet he just admitted that he’s not worried about having the best players compete in the USGA-sanctioned events.

Forget Gooch not getting a free pass into the tournament and the governing body making a not-so-subtle and very timely rule change, Whan’s admission that he doesn’t really care about his tournament fields is the much larger issue.

USGA CEO Mike Whan has admitted to not caring about the U.S. Open field. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

How Talor Gooch Can Still Qualify For The U.S. Open

As for Gooch, he can still get into the U.S. Open field. While he could have gone the open qualifier route like you, me, and anyone else could attempt, he passed on that route, but one avenue is still available.

Gooch will need to be inside the Top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) after the PGA Championship. He’s currently No. 60 in the world, but that number will likely fall between now and the start of the PGA in two weeks. He’ll need a somewhat strong week and pieces to fall in place to sneak inside the Top 60.

If he does qualify for the U.S. Open you better believe he’ll be extra motivated to put on a show at Los Angeles Country Club in June.

Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris

Written by Mark Harris


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