Matthew Fitzpatrick, a 27-year-old from England who has won eight times in Europe, secured his first PGA Tour victory in a sure way, by running the US Open at the same track where he won the US Amateur nine years earlier. Fitzpatrick earned a $3.15 million winning check after firing in the last round 68 for 6-under 274 at The Country Club in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, the course in which 20-year-old Frances Oumet bested two English superstars in the game in 1913. To put golf on the map in the United States
The impact of Ouimet’s story has been retold in Greatest game ever played, can not be oversold. Prior to his victory there were 350,000 golfers in the United States; Two years later there were 2.1 million. Despite the fame his victory bestowed on him, Ouimet has remained a lifelong amateur, providing another poignant point in the face of recent developments in the game.
The US Open has long delivered the biggest paycheck among the four majors, so after the Masters and the PGA Championship raised their total portfolios to $12.5 million earlier this year, it seemed inevitable that the Open Championship would follow suit. Since she paid $12.5 last year, the jump to $13.5 was made to do the trick, but these days of crazy money for pro golfers, USA recommended it to $17.5 million.
It’s hard not to see the influence of LIV Golf in this total. The Saudi-backed showrunner series hasn’t gotten much attention over the last 36 holes, as none of the players on its roster were contenders. Only four of the 13 on the field made the cut (Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau and Richard Bland), and among them Johnson, the number one, who tied for 24The tenth 4 equal. Rusty Phil Mickelson withdrew after shooting 78-73 to miss a cut-off at 11 or more.
This does not mean that the new series did not attract its share of attention. Early in the week, Mickelson experienced a strangely restricted media session, and Bryson DeChambeau spoke out about his choice of recording. “It was a business decision, first and foremost,” he said. “That’s it. It gave me a lot of opportunities outside of golf and gave me more time with my family and my future family. For me, that was the decision.”
DeChambeau, who is single, has been famous for changing the way he plays by building a gym in his home and working out three times a day. A recent hand injury that was at least partly related to his training and swing speed has raised questions about how his body will swing if he continues to swing as hard as possible to maintain a distance advantage. He reportedly received at least $100 million in advance to join LIV. The former physics major at SMU can do the math.
LIV players who had already qualified for the Open Championship were allowed to play this year because the series started just a week ago, and USGA officials didn’t think it would be fair to change course at such a late stage. Meanwhile, the union’s new CEO, Mike Wan, has yet to promise that the National Championship will always welcome Leaf golfers. When asked about LIV, he said he was personally “sad” because of the division in the game, and later added, “Can [I] Imagine a day when it would be difficult for some people to do different things to participate in the US Open? I can. Would this be true? I don’t know, but I can definitely anticipate that day.”
Over the weekend, LIV CEO Greg Norman said his series would apply for recognition in the official world golf rating points system on Monday, which, if approved, could offer LIV players the opportunity to obtain exemptions to play in the four majors, as well as events other. Of course, the lack of competitive events against other highly ranked players may result in LIV golfers dropping out of the major tournaments.
For now, the dramatic focus of golf is shifting to Portland, where LIV will play its first five US-based events on June 30, and then the British Open, which takes place in St Andrews July 20-23. Leaders from R&A, which runs the British event, are expected to follow the USGA’s lead for similar reasons.
Perhaps the only person in golf who isn’t curious about what happens next is Fitzpatrick, who is once again busy partying in Boston and figuring out how to spend $3 million.