New Jersey-based USA Federation Rules On US Open Eligibility Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson

The Golf Association of the United States has spoken.

The organization, based in Far Hills, New Jersey, has decided that Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson are eligible for next week’s US Open.

Mickelson, the six-time main champion, and Johnson, the 2016 US Open winner, will be in London this week for the opening event of the LIV Golf Invitational Series. Both are exempt from the 122nd US Open.

“In terms of players who might choose to play in London this week, we simply asked ourselves this question – should a player who has made his way to the 2022 US Open, by our published field standards, be taken off the field as a result of his decision to play in another event? And we ultimately decided they shouldn’t,” the USGA said.

Johnson announced on Tuesday that he was resigning from the PGA Tour to take part in the Saudi-backed Super Golf League. At the time, ESPN reported that Johnson said he “fully expects to be able to play in the major tournaments,” including the 122nd US Open, which begins next week at The Country Club in Brooklyn, Massachusetts.

“I can’t answer for the big companies, but I hope they’ll let us play,” Johnson said. “Obviously I’m exempt from major tournaments, so I plan to play unless I hear otherwise.”

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

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On Monday, Mickelson announced that he will be taking part in this weekend’s LIV Series event. According to ESPN, “Mickelson said he still plans to play for the majors, but he hasn’t said if he’ll compete in the PGA Tour events.”

Mickelson previously defended his participation in the Super Golf League. He described the Saudis, who are financing the project, as “intimidating” and said he was only using the Super Golf League as leverage in dealing with the PGA Tour. These comments were submitted in November to author Alan Shipnock, who is writing an unauthorized biography of the six-time main hero.

“They are scary mothers to get involved with,” he said in the Washington Post. We know they were killed [Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi] It has an appalling human rights record. They execute people there for being gay. Knowing all this, why am I even thinking about it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour works.”

“I recognize that people have strong views and I think there should probably be an ethical requirement,” said Mike Wan, chief executive of the USGA. “As I told our team last night, with over 9,300 participants in the US Open, if we decide what’s on their sleeve or bag or which round they’re playing, what we think is good and not good, I’m not sure the circuit will ever stop. We don’t follow beliefs. The character and who finances it. That doesn’t mean we don’t care.”

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

“Instead, it’s just a response to whether or not the USGA considers playing in an alternative event, without their home tour’s approval, an offense that should disqualify them from the US Open.”

It will be decided whether the criteria will change for the 2023 US Open and beyond. Wan said the US Open exemption criteria are under constant review, and there’s no telling what the LIV Golf Invitational Series will look like next year or in the near future.

“What this thing is now is different from what it was four months ago and what it will be eight months from now,” Wan said. “It’s a rather moving target. It would be inconsistent to decide now what next year’s benchmarks look like.”

Mickelson has not played on the PGA Tour since January, and has isolated himself in self-imposed exile. This included skipping The Masters in April and the PGA Championship last month.

The eight-event LIV series will include five tournaments being 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 can be reached at mrosenstein@njadvancemedia.com.

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