NJ-based USGA rules on US Open eligibility of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson

The United States Golf Association has spoken.

The organization, which is based in Far Hills, NJ, has decided Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson are eligible to participate in next week’s US Open.

Mickelson, a six-time major champion, and Johnson, the 2016 US Open winner, will be in London this week for the inaugural event on the LIV Golf Invitational Series. Both are exempt for the 122nd US Open.

“Regarding players who may choose to play in London this week, we simply asked ourselves this question – should a player who had earned his way into the 2022 US Open, via our published field criteria, be pulled out of the field as a result of his decision to play in another event? And we ultimately decided that they shouldn’t, ”the USGA said.

Johnson announced Tuesday he is resigning from the PGA Tour to participate in the Saudi-backed Super Golf League. At the time, ESPN reported Johnson said he “fully expects to be able to play in the majors,” including the 122nd U.S. Open, which begins next week at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

“I can’t answer for the majors, but hopefully they’re going to allow us to play,” Johnson said. “Obviously I’m exempt for the majors, so I plan on playing unless I hear otherwise.”

Johnson earned a 10-year exemption from his 2016 US Open victory. Mickelson has a five-year exemption from winning the PGA Championship last year.

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On Monday, Mickelson announced he would participate in this weekend’s LIV series event. For ESPN, “Mickelson said he still plans to play in the majors, but didn’t say whether he would compete in PGA Tour events.”

Mickelson previously defended his involvement in the Super Golf League. He called the Saudi Arabians, who are bankrolling the venture, “scary” and said he was only using the Super Golf League as leverage in dealing with the PGA Tour. Those comments were made in November to author Alan Shipnuck, who’s writing an unauthorized biography of the six-time major champion.

“They’re scary motherf —– s to get involved with,” he said, per the Washington Post. “We know they killed [Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi] and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates. ”

“I realize people have strong points of view and think perhaps there should be some morality clause,” said Mike Whan, the CEO of the USGA. “As I said to our team last night, with more than 9,300 entrants for the US Open, if we decide what’s on their sleeve or their bag or what tour they’re playing, what we think is OK and not OK, I’m not sure that circle ever stops. We don’t track personal beliefs and who funds them. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. ”

The USGA said in its statement that who plays next week at Brookline should not suggest the organization supports an alternative tour or the actions and comments of a player.

“Rather, it is simply a response to whether or not the USGA views playing in an alternative event, without the consent of their home tour, an offense that should disqualify them for the US Open.”

Whether criteria changes for the 2023 US Open and beyond is to be determined. Whan said the US Open exempt criteria is under constant review, and there is no telling what the LIV Golf Invitational series will look like next year or down the road.

“What this thing is now is different than it was four months ago and what it will be eight months from now,” Whan said. “It’s a bit of a moving target. It would be inconsistent for us to decide now what next year’s criteria looks like. ”

Mickelson hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since January, sequestering himself in self-imposed exile. That included skipping The Masters in April and the PGA Championship last month.

The eight-event LIV series will feature five tournaments played in the United States, including one at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ on July 29-31.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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Mike Rosenstein may be reached at mrosenstein@njadvancemedia.com.

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