Matthew Fitzpatrick, a 27-year-old from England who’s gained eight instances in Europe, nabbed his first win on the PGA Tour in an emphatic method, by taking the U.S. Open on the identical course the place he gained the U.S. Amateur 9 years in the past. Fitzpatrick took dwelling the $3.15 million winner’s verify after capturing a final-round 68 for a 6-under 274 at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., the course the place 20-year-old Francis Ouimet outdueled two English stars of the sport in 1913 to place golf on the map within the U.S.
The influence of Ouimet’s story, retold in The Greatest Game Ever Played, can’t be oversold. Before his win there have been 350,000 golfers within the U.S.; two years later there have been 2.1 million. Despite the celebrity his victory afforded him, Ouimet remained an novice for all times, which gives one other poignant counterpoint to the newest developments within the sport.
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The U.S. Open has lengthy handed out the most important paycheck among the many 4 majors, so after the Masters and the PGA Championship upped their whole purses to $12.5 million earlier this 12 months, it appeared a foregone conclusion that the Open would observe go well with. And because it paid out $12.5 final 12 months, a leap to $13.5 figured to do the trick, however in as of late of mad cash for professional golfers, the USGA goosed the pot to $17.5 million.
It’s laborious to not see the affect of LIV Golf in that whole. The Saudi-backed exhibition collection didn’t get a lot consideration over the ultimate 36 holes, since not one of the gamers on its roster have been in rivalry. Only 4 of 13 within the discipline made the minimize (Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau and Richard Bland), and amongst them the highest finisher was Johnson, who tied for twenty-fourth at 4 over par. A rusty Phil Mickelson bowed out after capturing 78-73 to overlook the minimize at 11-over.
That doesn’t imply the brand new collection didn’t draw its share of consideration. Early within the week Mickelson endured an oddly restrained media session, and Bryson DeChambeau talked about his selection to enroll. “It was a business decision, first and foremost,” he stated. “That’s all there was to it. It’s given me a lot more opportunities outside of the game of golf and given me more time with my family and my future family. So for me, that was the decision.”
DeChambeau, who’s single, famously reworked his sport by constructing a health club in his home and figuring out thrice a day. A current hand damage that was at the least partly associated to his coaching and swing pace raised questions on how his physique will maintain up if he continues to swing as laborious as needed to keep up his distance benefit. He reportedly acquired at the least $100 million up entrance to affix LIV. The former physics main at SMU can do math.
LIV gamers who had already certified for the Open have been allowed to play this 12 months as a result of the collection solely kicked off every week earlier, and USGA officers didn’t assume it will be honest to alter course at such a late stage. At the identical time, the affiliation’s new government director, Mike Whan, didn’t promise the nationwide championship would at all times welcome LIV golfers. When questioned about LIV, he stated he was personally “saddened” by the division within the sport, and later added “could [I] envision a day where it would be harder for some folks doing different things to get into a U.S. Open? I could. Will that be true? I don’t know, but I can definitely foresee that day.”
Over the weekend, LIV CEO Greg Norman stated his collection would apply for recognition within the Official World Golf Ranking factors system on Monday, which, if accredited, may permit LIV gamers an opportunity to achieve exemptions to play within the 4 majors, in addition to different occasions. Of course, a scarcity of aggressive occasions in opposition to different extremely ranked gamers may trigger LIV golfers to play their approach out of the majors.
For now, golf’s dramatic focus shifts to Portland, the place LIV will play the primary of its 5 U.S.-based occasions on June 30, then the British Open, which can happen at St. Andrews July 20-23. Leaders of the R&A, which runs the British occasion, are anticipated to observe the USGA’s lead for comparable causes.
Perhaps the one particular person in golf who’s not interested by what’s going to occur subsequent is Fitzpatrick, who’s busy as soon as once more celebrating in Boston and determining how one can spend $3 million.
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