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    Trump Criticizes PGA Tour and Praises Saudis for Backing LIV Golf

    The former president, who is hosting two LIV Golf events, including one this week at his course in Bedminster, N.J., made the remarks before teeing off in the pro am.BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Donald J. Trump praised the Saudi Arabian backers of a controversial new golf tournament Thursday, calling them his friends, while criticizing the traditional PGA Tour.The former president, wearing a white golf shirt and his signature red baseball cap emblazoned with his familiar campaign slogan, spoke briefly before teeing off in the pro-am segment of the LIV Golf event at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., which he owns.“I’ve known these people for a long time in Saudi Arabia and they have been friends of mine for a long time,” Trump said after taking practice swings on the driving range. “They’ve invested in many American companies. They own big percentages of many, many American companies and frankly, what they are doing for golf is so great, what they are doing for the players is so great. The salaries are going to go way up.”The LIV Golf series is bankrolled by the sovereign wealth fund, which is overseen by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In 2018, during Trump‘s presidency, American intelligence officials concluded that Prince Mohammed had authorized the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and journalist with the Washington Post. Trump, who criticized the Saudis on the campaign trail before his election in 2016, resisted their conclusions.The Bedminster club had previously been scheduled to host the P.G.A. Championship in 2022, but the P.G.A. of America moved it to Oklahoma after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, saying that holding it at Bedminster would be “detrimental to the P.G.A. of America brand.” (The P.G.A. of America, which is separate from the PGA Tour, later reached a settlement with the Trump Organization.) Since then, Trump has sided with the upstart golf tour.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    Furious at LIV Golf Defections, British Open Could Change Entry Rules

    The R&A’s chief executive issued a stark warning to the players and did little to disguise his disdain for the new Saudi-backed series.ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — The British Open’s organizer pointedly warned on Wednesday that it might change its entry rules for future tournaments — potentially complicating the claret jug prospects of players who defected to the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf series.Although the R&A, which runs the Open, has not made a decision about how players will be able to join the 156-man field in 2023 and beyond, the organization’s chief executive, Martin Slumbers, left open the possibility that the pathway to one of golf’s most hallowed tournaments could soon shift.“We will review our exemptions and qualifications criteria for the Open,” Slumbers said at a news conference at St. Andrews on the eve of the Open’s start on the Old Course. “We absolutely reserve the right to make changes” from past years, he added.“Players have to earn their place in the Open, and that is fundamental to its ethos and its unique global appeal,” said Slumbers, who did little to disguise his disdain for the LIV series, which he condemned as “entirely driven by money” and threatening to “the merit-based culture and the spirit of open competition that makes golf so special.”Still, he signaled that a wholesale ban of players was “not on our agenda.”Slumbers denied that the R&A was coordinating with the organizers of golf’s other major tournaments to potentially exclude LIV players, whose ranks include Brooks Koepka, Sergio García, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed. But the chief executive of the United States Golf Association, which controls the U.S. Open, said in June that the group would “re-evaluate” the criteria it uses to set that tournament’s field.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 5A new series. More

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    Gary Player Fears for the Old Course (and Probably Your Breakfast Order)

    NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. — Surely, Gary Player could have long ago gotten away from being one of golf’s globe-trotting mascots.He is 86 now, with 160 victories — including nine major championships — and millions of dollars to his name. But Player, who secured the career Grand Slam when he was 29, has never seemed able to stop, never eager to surrender to age or outrage or the siren songs of privacy or retirement.So there he was one spring day, clad, as ever, almost entirely in black, cheerfully bobbing around Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia as he opined on whatever and signed autographs and played the game that made a young man from South Africa mightily famous.But one of his preferred stretches of any year will come with this week’s British Open, which he played a record 46 consecutive times. The 150th edition of the Open will begin Thursday on the Old Course at St. Andrews, which Player first visited in 1955 when he failed to qualify for the tournament.In an interview in May at Aronimink, where he won the 1962 P.G.A. Championship and still plays when he is in the area to visit his daughter, Player reflected on the state of the Open and the sport, and, of course, the physical regimen that has kept him on courses well into his ninth decade.This interview has been edited for length and clarity.You’ve called the British Open your favorite major. Why?The British Open is the greatest championship in the world. I think the U.S. Open is second, the P.G.A. is third and the Masters fourth.So, why?That’s where it all started, and this is the game that we all love and adore and what it’s done for us in our lives, irrespective of whether you’re a professional or amateur.But the Open Championship is the challenge of the mind like no other tournament. Remember there, because of the field, you tee off sometimes at 6:30 in the morning and the last starting time is 4 o’clock.So you play in the morning and you play in perfect weather and you shoot an average round of 72. In the afternoon, the wind comes up and a little bit of rain and you shoot 74 and it’s your highlight of the year you’ve played so well. So what it does is test you more — far more — than any other tournament at not feeling sorry for yourself, at getting in there and loving adversity and realizing if I can overcome this, I really am the champion of the world.I’ll never forget going to St. Andrews my first year and thinking, “What a crap golf course.” But it was immaturity, my lack of knowledge of the game.Player, center, after winning the British Open at age 23. He won nine major championships.Bettmann / ContributorYou slept on the dunes during your first St. Andrews trip, right?I leave South Africa with 200 pounds in my pocket. That’s my total asset in the world, and now I’ve got to play the Tour and if I don’t play well, go back home — not like today when you’ve got a sponsor and the guys are making millions and millions.I arrive at St. Andrews. I don’t have a booking for a hotel. So I go to these hotels — 80 pounds, 90 pounds, 100 pounds. I said, I’ll sleep on the beach. It was a great evening, right where they did “Chariots of Fire.” I went and lay there on the beach with my waterproofs on. I wake up the next day and I find a room for 10 shillings and sixpence, and that’s where I slept.It was right opposite the 18th green. Now I get on the first tee, and I’m very nervous and the starter says, “Play away, laddie.”Ray Charles can’t miss that fairway, it’s so wide, OK? So I get up, hook the ball, it’s going out of bounds, it hits the stake, comes back.As I’m walking away, he says, “What’s your name?” I said, “My name is Gary Player, sir.” He says, “What is your handicap?” I said, “No, I’m a pro.” He says, “You’re a pro? Laddie, you must be a hell of a chipper and putter.”Time goes by, I come back and I’m now the youngest man to win the Open. And he sees me, “It’s a bloody miracle! Actually, laddie, it’s a mirage. I can’t believe it’s you. You won the Open!”You never finished better than seventh in an Open at St. Andrews. To your mind, what makes St. Andrews as challenging as it is?The wind or the rain or whatever the conditions are, and staying out of the bunkers, which are fatal. When you get in those bunkers, you just get out. You don’t take a 4-iron and knock it out like you can in South Africa or America.And then you’ve got the greens, which are so big that they’re double greens.My goodness me, is it hard to judge second shots.Player during the British Open at St. Andrews in Scotland on July 20, 2000. His best finish at a British Open at St. Andrews was seventh.photo by Paul Severn/Getty ImagesGiven how long people are hitting, do you think the Old Course is irrelevant or headed toward irrelevancy?It is. That’s the tragedy, but that’s not the fault of the golf course; that’s the fault of our leaders. Our leaders have allowed the ball to go too far.You’ve got to have some vision in life. In 30 to 40 years, they’re going to hit the ball 500 yards. You know, on the second hole at Augusta, they’re hitting an 8-iron to the green. Jack Nicklaus, if you gave him this equipment and let him tee off in his prime, he’d hit it as far or farther as most guys. The best he ever did was 5-iron.So, it’s making a mockery of it.Now, can you afford to do what Augusta does? Keep going backward and buying land? No. And is it necessary? No, and it’s a waste of money. Young people should be getting the money to improve golf and conditions and giving African Americans a chance in the inner cities. They should be teaching kids about getting an opportunity to play golf.But no, that money’s being wasted because you now have the tees longer, it’s more irrigation, it’s more fertilization, it’s more machinery, it’s more labor.It sounds like it infuriates you.It burns. It destroys me. A guy like Bryson DeChambeau, he could drive the first green. He’ll definitely drive the third. He will drive seven to eight greens in the tournament.Seven? On the most famous golf course on the planet? All I pray is that during the Open they have wind and a little bit of rain. Otherwise, they’re going to annihilate the golf course.So if the course is becoming a mockery, should the R&A keep holding Opens at St. Andrews every so often?Yes, because you don’t want to lose something that is so famous — the greatest championship in the world — by stupidity.National apartheid demonstrations outside Manly Golf Club, Nov. 6, 1971.Photo by Edward Beresford Golding/Fairfax Media via Getty ImagesYou faced protests in the 1960s over your views on apartheid, which you later distanced yourself from.When you lived in apartheid like I did — you have no idea, young people have no idea. It was like living in Germany. If you said something when I was a young man about the government, you could get what they called a 90-day policy of jail.You were scared.But people did protest.In 1969, I was playing at the P.G.A. at Dayton, Ohio, and they threw telephone books at the top of my backswing, they threw ice in my eyes, they threw balls between my legs, they screamed on my backswing. They were all doing it to me to get at the South African government because I was the world champion.Do you think Phil Mickelson will face the same kind of blowback for embracing Saudi Arabia’s moves in golf?He could never face it to the degree that I had. I had it most places in the world, and had I not had all that, I could have won more majors.At Augusta this year, you go into the press facility after we opened the golf course. They asked a question about Phil Mickelson. Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus said nothing. But, no, I’m not going to be like that. Silence in the face of evil is evil.So there’s now Phil Mickelson, the greatest P.R. that golf ever had. He’s been ostracized because he said something in confidence to a man who’s doing a book. Incorrectly, he said something, which we all do.We all deserve a second strike. We say in our prayers, “Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive them.” Are we adhering to that? No!With that public attitude in mind, do you think there is a path for public redemption for Mickelson?The American nation is a nation, more so than any other nation, that forgives. They will cheer him to the hilt, a guarantee. If he doesn’t, I’ll be shocked because he deserves it.Rory McIlroy didn’t get to play at St. Andrews in 2015 because of an injury. Is this his time?Rory McIlroy is the most talented golfer in the world today. Whether you use the talent and do it effectively, that’s up to him. To the standard of his ability, he has not delivered. Now, he’s won four majors, but with his ability, he should have won six by now. He should be doing way better.But Ben Hogan — the best player to ever play the game — only won his first major championship at 34, so Rory is in his infancy. But everyone, as we live in the world now, wants instant delivery, and it doesn’t happen like that in life.I’m a big Rory fan as far as his future is concerned. I don’t know if he’s nervous. I can only pass comment on the golf course.He’s so strong, and he’s so fit, and he’s a nice man.Collin Morikawa obviously had a tremendous Open last year. Do you see him as one of the dominant faces of the game years from now?Throughout history, you’ve always had someone who dominated. Ben Hogan was the best that ever played. Then came Jack Nicklaus. Prior to that, it was Bobby Jones. Then came Tiger Woods.I can’t tell you who the best player in the world is now. Nobody is warranting to say he is the best player in the world; he can say he’s one of the best players.Player in the locker room of Aronimink Golf Course in May.Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York TimesWhy do you still play? Is it for fun? For physical experience? To compete with yourself?I love people, and I learn something from everyone I play with.I had been trying for years to beat my age by 18 shots. I’ve done 17 shots six times. One time, I had it in my hand — there was no way I could not do it — and I quite honestly choked. It was the first time I really had adrenaline on a golf course since winning a British Open or the Masters.But I’m playing with Donald Trump with friends of mine, and I shoot 19 under my age. I go out the next day and shoot 18 under my age, and yet, for years, I’ve been trying to achieve it. [Asked whether Player had joined Trump for a round and scored a 67, a spokesman for Trump, Taylor Budowich, replied: “He did, and President Trump was equally impressed.”]My dream is to repay America for what it’s done for me.I want people, when I die, to say, “Gary Player, crikey, man, did he teach me to look after my body.” It’s a holy temple. People in America don’t worry about health. Two percent, maybe — I’m being kind — under-eat, exercise, laugh and have unmeasured love in their hearts.And yet what’s the most important thing in your life? Your health. People are just eating themselves into the grave. I had no breakfast today.Player taking the ceremonial tee shots at the Masters Tournament on Nov, 12, 2020.Doug Mills/The New York TimesWhat did you have today?I had a hamburger with no bun. I don’t eat the bun. The bun is crap. You might as well eat green grass.I don’t eat bacon. I don’t drink milk. I don’t eat ice cream. I love ice cream, I love bacon, but I took an oath to God I would never have it because if I want to live a long time, it takes effort, it takes work, it takes dedication.Given all of that, what did you shoot today?74. If I have a bad day, it’s 75.I’ve beaten my age 2,400 times, plus, in a row.Do you fear the day you won’t be able to do that, or do you think that day will never come?Age takes care of everything. If you’re reasonably well read and intelligent, you’ve got to accept those things.What goes through your head when you visit St. Andrews now?Gratitude.My mind’s going to go back to 1955. Sixty-seven years! A lot of people don’t live to 67. More

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    Will Zalatoris Will Never Be Satisfied With Second Place

    Zalatoris came close to sending the U.S. Open to a playoff on Sunday, only to finish disappointed once again. “We’re talking inches,” he says.BROOKLINE, Mass. — As his putt approached the hole on the 18th green on Sunday evening, Will Zalatoris thought he was headed to a thrilling playoff that would determine the U.S. Open champion. All the ball had to do was drop and Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick would settle things in a two-hole playoff.“With about six feet to go, I thought I had it,” Zalatoris said. He had checked his phone earlier and seen what Paul Azinger, the NBC golf analyst and former PGA Tour pro, had been saying. “That everyone missed that putt high,” Zalatoris added.He continued, “‘I was the closest one all day. I was, like, ‘thanks for the consolation prize.’”Zalatoris is becoming painfully familiar with consolation prizes. Last month, he lost the P.G.A. Championship to Justin Thomas in a playoff at Southern Hills in Tulsa. He finished second to Hideki Matsuyama in the 2021 Masters, just seven months removed from the Korn Ferry Tour. And now, another second place finish in another major.“It stings obviously to have three runners-up so far in my career in majors,” he said. “We’re obviously doing the right things. I’d pay a lot of money for about an inch and a half, and I’d probably be a three-time major champion at this point. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.”Zalatoris, right, congratulating Matt Fitzpatrick on the 18th green on Sunday.Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesZalatoris can look to the great Ben Hogan for historical comparison. Hogan was repeatedly labeled a bridesmaid for his inability to win a major throughout the early and mid 1940s. He lost a playoff to Byron Nelson at the 1942 Masters after leading by three shots. He lost a chance at a playoff in the 1946 Masters when he three-putted from 12 feet, missing a 30-inch putt.“It just wasn’t my time to win,” Hogan told The New York Times. “However, there’s another year coming.” Two months later, at the U.S. Open outside Cleveland, he again three-putted on the 72nd hole, missing another short putt and falling out of a playoff won by Lloyd Mangrum. But later that year, he won the P.G.A. Championship, the first of his nine majors.The difference is that unlike Hogan, who had established himself as one of the game’s premier players by consistently winning other tournaments, Zalatoris is still looking for his first victory on the PGA Tour. The consensus is that Zalatoris’s putting — particularly the short putt — is his Achilles’ heel. Though he putted relatively well at the Country Club — until he missed that birdie on the last hole in the final round — he entered the tournament ranked 160th on the tour in putting.Asked what he thought when he saw Zalatoris line up a putt, Collin Morikawa said, “I pray for him. I mean, look, I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’ve said it since college, anything outside of that 8- to 10-foot zone, I mean, it’s as smooth as anyone else’s stroke.”And inside of 10 feet?“We’ve seen some squirrelly putts,” Morikawa said. “Not that I’m the best putter and I have had that little squirreliness too, but I think we all kind of get on our toes when we see it.”Zalatoris drawing a crowd on the 18th fairway in the final round of the U.S. Open.Amanda Sabga/EPA, via ShutterstockZalatoris had no trouble winning before he arrived on the PGA Tour. He won the 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur championship. At Wake Forest, he was an All-American and ACC Player of the Year. He twice won the Trans-Mississippi Amateur championship. He was on the victorious 2017 U.S. Walker Cup team, which also featured Scottie Scheffler, who tied with Zalatoris for second place on Sunday, and Morikawa, who finished tied for fifth.In addition to the three career second-place finishes at the majors, Zalatoris this year has finished second to Luke List in a playoff at the Farmers Insurance Open. He tied for sixth at the Masters, fourth at the Zurich Classic and fifth at the Memorial Tournament.His world ranking has climbed to 12th and he is ranked 8th in the FedEx Cup standings. No golfer ranked that high or higher has done so without at least one victory.Sunday’s result at the Country Club was Zalatoris’s seventh top-10 finish in 12 events this year. He has finished in the top 10 in six of the eight majors in which he has played. It is an impressive record — minus a glaring hole, or three.“It’s just little things,” said Zalatoris, who turns 26 in August. “It’s not the same thing at every single one. We’re talking inches. It’s not like I finished runner-up by four or five a few times. It’s been one for all three. So I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve got to keep knocking on the door because eventually — like I said earlier, the comfort level is there.”After Zalatoris had dissected his round and his ongoing battle to finally crack the winner’s circle, he received a parting gift from the United States Golf Association: a silver medal for coming in second. More

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    Why You Can’t Watch LIV Golf on American Television

    The human rights record of its funder, Saudi Arabia, may be the least of the new tour’s challenges when it comes to getting on American television.For the Saudi-backed upstart LIV Golf tour, the strategy for luring top golfers like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson away from the prestige and stability of the PGA Tour was simple: Offer cash, and lots of it.The arrival of the new tour and the defection of PGA Tour stars were major disruptions in what has been a stable and even staid sport. But when the first LIV event was finally held outside London last weekend after months of anticipation, it was not shown on television in the United States. And it’s unlikely that any American network will be broadcasting LIV events anytime soon.The reason boils down to this: The networks are happy airing the PGA Tour.“We are positioned as the home of golf in this country,” said Pete Bevacqua, the chairman of the NBC Sports, which shows by far the most golf in the United States. “We are not only satisfied where we are, but unbelievably pleased where we are.”Some golfers couldn’t resist the pull of the new tour, whose events are shorter than the PGA Tour’s (three days instead of four) and offer huge payouts, with individual winners receiving $4 million and the members of winning teams sharing $3 million, far more than most PGA Tour events. Even last-place finishers get $120,000; PGA Tour players who don’t make the cut after two rounds get nothing.Charl Schwartzel of South Africa won $4 million for winning the inaugural LIV Golf tournament. He pocketed another $750,000 because his team won the team competition.Alastair Grant/Associated PressBut the LIV tour got nowhere with those who might have aired its events in the United States. Representatives for LIV Golf spoke with most American broadcasters, but did not have substantive discussions about a media rights agreement with any of them, according to people familiar with those discussions. LIV broached the idea of buying time to show the London tournament on Fox — an inversion of the normal business relationship, where the media company pays the sports organization to show its event — but discussions did not go far.In the end, the London tournament was not on American broadcast TV or popular sports streaming platforms such as Peacock and ESPN+. Instead, golf fans could watch it on the streaming service DAZN, YouTube, Facebook or LIV Golf’s website, without commercials.Limited viewership numbers suggest not many of them did. The final round of the London event attracted an average of 68,761 viewers on YouTube and fewer than 5,000 on Facebook, according to Apex Marketing, a sports and entertainment analytics firm. On the same weekend, 812,000 viewers watched the final round of the PGA Tour’s Canadian Open on Golf Channel, and 2.78 million watched when coverage switched over to CBS.The absence of a media rights agreement would normally threaten the survival of a new sports league. But LIV Golf is not a commercial entity with a profit imperative. It is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and part of a larger effort by the kingdom to improve its image around the world. Players who have joined the LIV tour have been accused of helping to “sportswash” Saudi Arabia’s record of human rights abuses, including the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.LIV did not respond to a request for comment.But NBC and other broadcast networks have a long list of reasons other than reputational damage to steer clear of the new venture.LIV’s main barrier to entry in the United States is that most major media companies are deeply invested in the success of its competitor, the PGA Tour. NBC, CBS and ESPN are collectively in the first year of a nine-year, $6 billion-plus agreement to show the PGA Tour in the United States, while Warner Bros. Discovery (which owns TNT and TBS) is paying the PGA Tour $2 billion to show the tour worldwide.The media companies are not contractually restricted from showing LIV, according to the people familiar with the deals, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private agreements. But they believe that doing so would draw attention away from the tour on which they are spending billions.Fox, which has a history of risk-taking in sports (it is currently investing in spring football), might seem like a good candidate to team up with LIV, but Fox does not televise any golf, and that is by design. The network had the rights to broadcast the U.S. Open through 2026, but paid money to give up those rights to NBC.Even if networks wanted to take a chance on LIV Golf, the logistical challenges would be significant. Golf monopolizes entire weekends throughout the year and is more expensive to produce than arena- and stadium-based sports. (Golf presents a particularly difficult hurdle for Fox, which rarely puts sports on its streaming service, Tubi, meaning it is difficult to show golf when schedules collide.)Phil Mickelson at the LIV Golf tournament near London. The winner of 45 PGA Tour events, he was suspended by the PGA Tour after announcing he would play on the LIV tour.Paul Childs/ReutersLIV Golf also did not have any stars on board until recently, and it is not clear whether it will attract enough top golfers to make its events attractive to fans. Questions about the tour’s backing have been uncomfortable for those who have joined.“I would ask any player who has left or any player who would ever consider leaving, ‘Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?’” Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, said in a televised interview Sunday.Players who have signed contracts with LIV have been booted from the PGA Tour, though that could soon become the subject of litigation. Players have also been dropped by sponsors, either because of the association with Saudi Arabia or because companies don’t want to support golfers competing on a tour few are watching.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    U.S.G.A. Could Bar LIV Golf Players From Future U.S. Opens

    “I’m struggling with how this is good for the game,” Mike Whan said of the Saudi-backed rival series that has lured aging stars like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson with big paydays.BROOKLINE, Mass. — Since last week, when multiple top golfers exposed a schism in the men’s professional game by spurning the established PGA Tour to join the upstart, Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit, the sport has been waiting for its power brokers to weigh in.The biggest prizes in golf, the events that shape legacies, generate top sponsorship dollars and are marked on every player’s calendar, are the major championships: the Masters Tournament, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the P.G.A. Championship. But none of those four events are governed by a professional tour, be it old or new. They are overseen by four distinct entities sometimes described as the four families of golf (insert organized crime joke here).These organizations are now the linchpins in the battle over the future of men’s pro golf. When the PGA Tour retaliated last week by suspending 17 players who had aligned with LIV Golf, the looming question was whether the major championships’ chieftains from Augusta National Golf Club (the Masters), the United States Golf Association (the U.S. Open), the R&A (the British Open) and the PGA of America (the P.G.A. Championship) would choose a side. Since they have long been allied with the recognized tours in the United States and Europe, would they snub the alternative LIV Golf Invitational series and exclude its players from their events?Phil Mickelson plays a shot from a bunker on the 16th hole during a practice round at the Country Club.Jared C. Tilton/Getty ImagesOn Wednesday, there was a partial answer and it could not have comforted renowned players like Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson, who have insisted they can still play the major tournaments while accepting the hundreds of millions of dollars being doled out by LIV Golf, whose major shareholder is the Private Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.While all LIV Golf-affiliated players who had already qualified for this week’s U.S. Open at the Country Club outside Boston have been welcomed, Mike Whan, the U.S.G.A. chief executive, said on Wednesday that his organization would consider ways that could make it more difficult for LIV Golf players to compete in the event in the future.Whan was asked if he could see a situation in which the LIV Golf players would find it “harder and harder” to get into the U.S. Open.“Yes,” he answered.Asked to elaborate, Whan said: “Could I foresee a day? Yeah, I could foresee a day.”Whan cautioned that the U.S.G.A. would not act rashly but would unquestionably “re-evaluate” its qualifying criteria.“The question was, could you envision a day where it would be harder for some folks doing different things to get into a U.S. Open?” he said. “I could.”There were other statements from Whan that did not sound like endorsements of the LIV Golf Invitational series, which held its inaugural tournament last weekend outside London and still lacks the support of the majority of top, and rank-and-file, PGA Tour players. But the breakaway circuit has surprisingly lured some leading players, most of whom had professed their loyalty to the United States-based PGA Tour just weeks, or days, earlier.“I’m saddened by what’s happening in the professional game,” Whan said. He continued: “I’ve heard that this is good for the game. At least from my outside view right now, it looks like it’s good for a few folks playing the game, but I’m struggling with how this is good for the game.”Whan, who was the longtime commissioner of the L.P.G.A. until he took over the U.S.G.A. last summer, also emphasized that it was essential for each of golf’s leaders to work cohesively when assessing what role LIV Golf would play.“We have to see what this becomes — if this is an exhibition or tour?” he said. “I’ve said this many times, I’ve seen a lot of things get started in the game, maybe nothing with this amount of noise or this amount of funding behind it, but I’ve also seen a lot of those things not be with us a couple years later.“One event doesn’t change the way I think about the future of the sport.”The PGA Tour suspensions “got our attention,” said Mike Whan, the U.S.G.A. chief executive, at a news conference.Rob Carr/Getty ImagesAnd significantly, when Whan was asked if suspensions imposed by the PGA Tour would get his attention when the U.S.G.A. was reassessing its criteria for future U.S. Opens, Whan swiftly replied: “They already did. It got our attention for this championship.”Whan’s comments come a month after Seth Waugh, the P.G.A. of America chief executive, stood firmly behind the PGA Tour, calling it a part of what he referred to as golf’s ecosystem.“Our bylaws do say that you have to be a recognized member of a recognized tour in order to be a PGA member somewhere, and therefore eligible to play,” Waugh said, speaking of the P.G.A. Championship.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    Justin Thomas Wins the P.G.A. Championship With a Roaring Comeback

    Thomas, who entered the final round seven shots behind the leader, beat Will Zalatoris in a playoff to win his second career major championship.TULSA, Okla. — The dominant story line before the 2022 P.G.A. Championship revolved around Phil Mickelson, who became the oldest major champion last year when he won the event at age 50 but chose not to defend his title. Then the focus of the tournament shifted to Tiger Woods, 46, who arrived at the Southern Hills Country Club to resume his stirring comeback from injuries he sustained in a horrific car crash 15 months ago. But Woods struggled physically, and mired in last place after three rounds, he withdrew before Sunday’s final round.What evolved instead on the last day of the P.G.A. Championship was a glimpse of elite men’s golf’s youthful future, not its aging past. On a nervy, topsy-turvy afternoon in eastern Oklahoma, there was yet another dramatic showdown between the dazzling, hard-swinging 20-somethings who have overtaken the game.In a taut, three-hole aggregate playoff after the 18-hole fourth round ended in a tie, Justin Thomas, 29, held off the 25-year-old rising star Will Zalatoris to win his second P.G.A. Championship. The last four winners of golf’s major championships, Thomas; Scottie Scheffler, at the Masters; Collin Morikawa, at the British Open; and Jon Rahm, the reigning U.S. Open champion, are in their 20s.Even in defeat, Zalatoris briefly laughed as he assessed how his generation had become dominant so quickly.“I kind of have to check myself sometimes because I feel like I’m playing junior golf and college golf all over again,” Zalatoris said, mentioning his longtime rivals Scheffler, Thomas and Mito Pereira, 27, who held the lead for most of the fourth round. “We’ve been playing together for almost 10 years. Now we’re at the highest level of golf.”Thomas, who began the final round seven strokes off the lead, did not figure to be celebrating a victory after his first eight holes Sunday when he was one over par. His final-round rally tied for the third-largest comeback in major championship history.“It was a bizarre day, no doubt,” Thomas, who also won the 2017 P.G.A. Championship, said. “But I said in a news conference before the first round that no lead would be safe here — too much wind and too many scary holes.”Mito Pereira’s double bogey on the 18th hole dropped him out of first place.Matt York/Associated PressPereira, the third-round leader, had appeared poised to become the first golfer from Chile to win a major golf championship. Stepping to the 18th tee Sunday evening, he was playing in the final group and needed only a par to clinch the title.But Pereira, playing in just his second major championship, sliced his tee shot into a small creek adjacent to the fairway. After a penalty shot drop from the water, Pereira’s approach shot found the thick rough alongside the green. His chip from there trundled far across the green until it stopped in the fringe on the opposite side of the green. Pereira made double bogey, and finished in a tie for third place with the American Cameron Young, a college teammate of Zalatoris’s when they were at Wake Forest.“It’s such a stressful situation,” Pereira said of the atmosphere on the 18th tee. “But I didn’t feel any more nervous than other shots today. I wasn’t even thinking of the water. But, you know, I wish I could do it again.”The playoff ended a streak of 19 consecutive majors, dating to the 2017 Masters, that did not require extra holes to decide the outcome.Thomas and Zalatoris began the playoff with birdies on the first hole, the 13th. On the reachable par-4, 302-yard 17th hole, Thomas drove the green and had a lengthy putt for eagle that came up 3 feet short. Zalatoris’s drive on the 17th hole was just off the green, and his flop shot stopped 8 feet from the hole. His birdie putt skidded past the hole, and Zalatoris tapped in for par.With the chance to seize the advantage, Thomas rattled in his birdie putt for a one-stroke edge heading into the third playoff hole, the 18th.Both golfers reached the 18th green in two shots. Zalatoris could not covert a birdie putt, and Thomas needed only two putts for a par that clinched the championship.For Zalatoris, it was his latest close call in a major. He finished second at last year’s Masters and was tied for sixth at that event last month. He was tied for eighth at the 2021 P.G.A. Championship and tied for sixth at the 2020 U.S. Open.Will Zalatoris after making par on the 18th green. A birdie on the 17th hole put him in position to set up the playoff.Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesBut on Sunday, Zalatoris, after an even-par front nine, was hampered by poor putting, which has plagued him all season. He bogeyed the 12th and 16th holes but rallied by draining an 8-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. He also sank a 10-foot putt to save par at the final hole to shoot 71 for the final round and finish at five under par overall. At the time, though, it did not appear to be enough to catch Pereira.Thomas most likely finished his round with the same feeling. After his rough start to the day, he birdied the ninth hole and had a par at the 10th. Thomas then sank a 64-foot putt from just off the 11th hole for another birdie. At the par-4 12th, he sank an 18-foot birdie putt. Thomas missed consecutive manageable birdie putts at the 13th and 14th holes, but then splashed a shot from a greenside bunker at the par-4 17th hole to within 3 feet, a distance he successfully negotiated for his fifth birdie of the day. That would put him within one stroke of Pereira with one hole to play. A brilliant drive and courageous approach shot to the elevated 18th green stopped 11 feet behind the hole, but Thomas’s putt slid past the right edge for a par and a score of 67.“I was very calm in the playoff and very calm in the final holes before the playoff, which helped a lot,” Thomas said. “I was nervous, but it was a different kind of nervous, which maybe comes with experience. It was different than how I felt trying to win my first major in 2017. Whatever it was, it felt right.“To execute some of those tough shots when you really need to, it was full body chills.” More

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    Tiger Woods Withdraws from PGA Championship

    Recovering from leg injuries from a car crash last year, he had struggled at the Masters and now again at the PGA Championship.TULSA, Okla. — Tiger Woods, struggling in his comeback from severe leg injuries sustained in a car crash last year, withdrew from the P.G.A. Championship on Saturday night.The decision came hours after shooting a nine-over par 79, the highest score he has recorded during 22 P.G.A. Championship appearances. Yet an unsettling scene of Woods trying to perform a simple pre-round exercise Saturday presaged the interruption of his celebrated return to competitive elite golf.As Woods walked down an incline alongside a common practice area bunker, his right leg, which was surgically reconstructed 15 months ago with a rod, pins and screws, buckled. Woods nearly collapsed into the sand, but quickly used a golf club and a half step with his left leg to remain upright.On the golf course, Woods continued to limp and move slowly and stiffly, descending into a tie for last place on the tournament leaderboard at 12-over par. Because his halting gait and deteriorating game was so striking, Woods was asked afterward if he still planned to play in Sunday’s fourth round.“Well, I’m sore,” he answered. “I know that is for a fact. We’ll do some work and see how it goes.”Earlier in the event, Woods described how his recovery from golf rounds now includes many hours of ice baths and physical therapy. Saturday, he did not address when he might enter another tournament. The U.S. Open outside Boston begins June 16.Long after Woods’s round was complete, it was the weather that proved most vexing to his colleagues.The last time the P.G.A. Championship was played at Tulsa’s Southern Hills Country Club in 2007 temperatures reached 105 degrees. But that was during August in Oklahoma.Tiger Woods’s Lasting Impact and Uncertain FutureThe star golfer, one of the most influential athletes of the last quarter-century, is mounting a comeback after being badly injured in a car crash.The 2022 Masters: After saying that he would step back from competitive golf, Tiger Woods teed off at Augusta once again.Four Days That Changed Golf: When Woods won the 1997 Masters, he remade the game and catapulted himself to stardom.A Complicated Legacy: Our columnist looks back at Woods’s stunning feats and shocking falls.His Enduring Influence: Even when Woods is not playing, his impact on the sport can be felt at a PGA tournament.The P.G.A. Championship is now contested in May and Saturday’s third round of the event brought temperatures in the 50s, blustery winds and a field unnerved by the taxing conditions.With shots made unpredictable by swirling gusts, a bevy of golfers jockeyed for the lead, including unheralded Mito Pereira of Chile, who charged to a commanding advantage at the midpoint of his round. But the second-round leader, Will Zalatoris, who has four top 10 finishes in his last five major championships, caught Pereira several holes later.Then Cameron Young, a young rising star on the PGA Tour, and Bubba Watson, a 43-year-old two-time Masters champion, charged within a stroke of the lead.When play concluded Saturday evening, Pereira, who is 27 and playing in just his second major golf championship, had confidently, even boldly, regained the top spot on the leaderboard. After a third-round 69, he will enter Sunday’s final round with a three-stroke lead over Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick of England.Pereira, after a mid-round stumble, vaulted past the other third-round contenders with consecutive birdies on the 13th and 14th holes. Then, with a packed 18th green grandstand cheering for him, he closed out his day by sinking a 27-foot birdie putt to move to nine-under for the tournament.While Pereira, who is ranked 100th worldwide, is not a household name in professional golf, he has had three top 20 finishes on the PGA Tour this year and won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour, the tour’s top minor league circuit.Zalatoris had a bumpy start Saturday, shooting a four-over 39 on the front nine but steadied himself by curing some of his putting woes to shoot a rocky 73.After bogeying his first two holes, Fitzpatrick was five-under for the rest of his round to shoot 67.Young, whose father is David Young, the longtime golf professional at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in the suburbs of New York, made a late charge when he eagled the 296-yard par 4 17th hole by driving the green and making a short putt. With four birdies in his round, Young shot 67 and was in fourth place at five-under overall.After a sparkling front nine, Watson, who knocked his ball into seven bunkers during Saturday’s round, faltered and shot 73 and was tied for seventh.Woods’s troubles on Saturday were not doubt exacerbated by the Tulsa weather. With a back that has been operated on five times, Woods has not enjoyed playing in cold, damp conditions for more than a decade because it reduces the flexibility and fluidity of his golf swing. He is also still adjusting to modifications to his game required since the operations on his right leg.Once his round began, it was obvious Woods’s reduced physical capabilities were going to dramatically affect his score. His tee shot on the second hole was driven into a creek and led to a bogey. He recovered with three pars but then bungled the 218-yard par 3 sixth hole. By then, Woods already looked in pain and he was especially having trouble hitting his irons the necessary distances. Several were not on line either.On the sixth hole, his tee shot was short and left and landed in a water hazard. After a penalty shot drop, his third shot was in the rough just off the green and a subsequent chip that needed to go about 30 yards traveled only half that distance. Two putts later, Woods had a triple bogey.He then bogeyed six of his next seven holes. Woods appeared to be alternatively embarrassed and exasperated, but marched on. Always the grinder, he rallied for four pars and a birdie in his final five holes to avoid shooting 80.“I didn’t hit the ball very well and got off to not the start I needed to get off to,” Woods said later. “I thought I hit a good tee shot down 2 and ended up in the water, and just never really got any kind of momentum on my side.“I couldn’t get off the bogey train there. As I said, I just didn’t — I didn’t do anything right. I didn’t hit many good shots. Consequently, I ended up with a pretty high score.” More