So…she’s back at regular programming in the golf world.
If only for one week.
There will be a major tournament this coming week, with the US Open starting Thursday at The Country Club in Brooklyn, Massachusetts.
Certainly, there will be chatter remaining about the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series project, which is spearheaded by polarizing CEO Greg Norman and backed by an endless supply of dirty Saudi money.
But the focus of the world of golf – shifted to this week’s inaugural LIV Golf event outside London (where Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson were the main event) – will return to the so-called major major golf tournaments as we know it, with the US Open in play .
Although PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced Thursday that 17 players will be suspended from competing in the LIV event in London and any of those players they are following, no one has been banned from playing this week at Brookline.
The USGA, which may later follow suit with the PGA Tour and align with Monahan in the future, announced last week that its Open Championship would remain open to those who qualified.
That includes 51-year-old Mickelson, whose heartbreak at the US Open (six times and runner-up) is one of the ongoing events at this tournament, the only major trophy he has lost in his relentless quest to complete his Grand Slam career.
It also includes Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer – all previous US Open winners who are firmly entrenched in Norman’s LIV Golf Series – and have gone so far as to resign their membership on the PGA Tour. And Bryson Deschamps, the 2020 US Open champion, announced on Friday that he had signed a contract with Liv.
These are fast-moving, polarizing, and complex times in golf.
However, there is not too much complexity about the task ahead of us at The Country Club.
Survival is the name of the week – as always at the US Open. The legendary track, which exudes history, will be built with the usual USGA brute force, which means the rough will be stifling and the little greens will swing hard.
There will be more for players to grapple with as they navigate holes 1-18 in The Country Club than their thoughts about LIV Golf, Saudi money, PGA Tour loyalty and the All-Stars division occurring in the game will be spurred to mind.
Among the great storylines this week is the history that took place on the venerable track, which has undergone a restoration by renowned course designer Gil Hansey.
The US Open was last held at The Country Club in 1988, when Curtis Strange defeated Nick Faldo in an 18-hole playoff to win his first consecutive US Open title.
The country club was also famous for hosting the 1999 Ryder Cup, when the historic United States came back from their 10-6 deficit to enter the singles on Sunday to defeat Europe, 14 ½-13 – highlighted by the prodigy Flying bomb that drained Justin Leonard on the 17th against Jose Maria Olzabal to grab the trophy and ignite that wild American celebration on the green lawn that still irritates Europeans.
Most recently, the club hosted the 2013 US Amateur, which was won by Matt Fitzpatrick, who is now one of the best players in the world. This American amateur field was filled with now-prominent players on the PGA Tour such as world number one Scottie Scheffler, current PGA champion Justin Thomas, Canadian Cory Conners, DeChambeau, Xander Shaveli, Max Homma, Will Zalatores, Taylor Gotsch and Cameron Young.
The club’s most tumultuous part of history was the 1913 US Open won by 20-year-old amateur Frances Oymet, who defeated Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff. In 1963, Julius Burruss defeated Arnold Palmer and Jackie Cobbett in a playoff match at the US Open.
The defending champion is John Ram, who beat Tory Pines a year ago to win the first major of his career and has been relatively quiet ever since.
Mickelson is perhaps the most amazing player. How he will play and how will he be received by spectators when he emerges from his four-month self-exile following the explosive comments he made about the Saudis and the PGA Tour (in what he said was a private conversation posted by the reporter).
The US Open will be Mickelson’s first major tournament this year, having broken past the Masters (his favorite tournament he has won three times) and the PGA Championship (which he would defend in May).
“Hey, that’s why we’re watching,” said Paul Azinger, a former player and current analyst for NBC broadcast this week.
Former player and current NBC Notah Begay III player and analyst echoed Azinger: “Here’s why we’re watching. We want to see what the response will be. This [LIV Golf] It is a major thing going on. It is a major disruption in sports. I don’t know what an American golf fan would be…no one to tell us how that would be reaction. I think it would be very much to be expected. ”
Leonard, who is also part of this week’s NBA broadcast team, said he believes the public will continue to embrace Mickelson despite the fact that his decision to take the Saudi money has alienated many fans.
The outside booing and negative reaction isn’t really part of the golf viewer’s culture, keeping occasional fans supervised at the various watering holes around the courses.
“I think the response [to Mickelson] It will be mostly positive because it has been a fan favorite for many years. “I’m really more curious about where he has played, just because he hasn’t played competitively in a long time. I think we are all curious to see how he plays and how he is received.”