Talor Gooch in the course of the second spherical of the Open Championship.

getty photos

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — There are two-dozen LIV Golf gamers within the discipline on the one hundred and fiftieth Open Championship. Dustin Johnson is right here; the truth is, for a quick whereas Friday afternoon, he was your outright chief, at 9 beneath par. Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia are right here, too. Identical goes for Poults, Westy and Blandy. To say they’ve been handled like outcasts on the Outdated Course, within the shadows of the imposing Royal & Historic clubhouse, could be an overstatement. However they haven’t precisely been embraced with open arms, both.

Greg Norman, LIV’s vocal chief and proud proprietor of two Claret Jugs, was advised by the R&A to remain dwelling this week. Mickelson, an Open winner in 2013, was not formally blacklisted from the past-champion festivities on Monday and Tuesday, however he was strongly inspired to not attend. On the first tee on Thursday, Poulter heard one thing you nearly by no means hear from the reserved and respectful Open galleries: boos.      

Ian poulter looks on at the open championship on thursday

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Nary a single LIV participant — not Phil, nor DJ, nor King Louis, a previous Open winner on the Outdated Course — was invited into the media middle to take a seat for a pre-tournament press convention. None have been assigned what is perhaps described as a marquee tee time, both. Mickelson was within the fifth group out on Thursday with Lucas Herbert and Kurt Kitayama. Patrick Reed, who this week has LIV branding on his shirt sleeve, collar and hat, went off with Tom Hoge and JooHyung Kim. Westwood, traditionally a crowd favourite on the Open, performed with J.T. Poston and Stephen Dodd. Garcia, Bland and Oosthuizen have been all grouped with amateurs.

However wait, there’s extra! When R&A chief Martin Slumbers met with the media Wednesday, he required no prompting from reporters to disclose his emotions in regards to the LIV motion. Close to the highest of his opening remarks, Slumbers stated, “Earlier than we get the press convention underway, I want to briefly handle a subject which is little doubt on most of your minds.” He wasn’t speaking about Princess Anne’s plans to attend the Open.

With out mentioning LIV by identify, Slumbers went on to say of LIV’s first two occasions, “I imagine the mannequin we’ve seen at Centurion and Pumpkin Ridge will not be in the most effective long-term pursuits of the game as an entire and is fully pushed by cash. We imagine it undermines the merit-based tradition and the spirit of open competitors that makes golf so particular. I’d additionally wish to say that for my part the continued commentary that that is about rising the sport is simply not credible and if something, is harming the notion of our sport which we’re working so laborious to enhance.”

Whether or not the R&A’s chilly shoulder — and the regular drumbeat of LIV-related questions in participant press conferences — has affected LIV execs is difficult to say. But when the leaderboard by means of two rounds is any indication, no less than a few of them seem undaunted. Among the many LIV’ers within the crimson, and within the hunt, are DJ (9 beneath), Talor Gooch (seven beneath), Abraham Ancer (5 beneath), Poulter and Westwood (each 4 beneath).

After his second-round 69, Gooch was requested whether or not LIV gamers have been galvanized by the R&A’s chilly reception.  

“Yeah, for positive,” he stated. “All people, it appears like, is towards us, and that’s OK. Such as you stated, it’s sort of banded us collectively, I feel.”

Band of LIV brothers.

Phil Mickelson of The United States looks on during a practice round prior to The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course on July 12, 2022 in St Andrews, Scotland.

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You could possibly see these cliques in motion in observe rounds earlier this week. Garcia performed with Ancer. Poulter and Bland joined Sam Horsfield. Mickelson set out with fellow LIV’ers Garcia, Bernd Wiesberger and LIV beginner Paul Casey. There’s no designated LIV part in participant eating (that we all know of) however you possibly can’t assist however marvel if that’s coming subsequent.

PGA Tour loyalists like Justin Thomas and Billy Horschel have spoken of feeling betrayed by gamers who haven’t been forthright in regards to the the explanation why they’ve jumped ship for LIV (i.e., cash). Nevertheless it’s unclear whether or not the turmoil has truly uprooted private relationships.

On the Scottish Open final week, Thomas stated about being grouped with LIV gamers: “If I do know all 4 of them, then it will likely be positive. It is going to be straightforward. However even when I don’t, I don’t essentially assume we’re going to be having any gamesmanship or needling one another.”  

Padraig Harrington has stated he gained’t let the LIV rigidity spoil his friendships, likening the friction to one thing you would possibly encounter with prolonged household at Thanksgiving. “You could possibly be a Republican, they may very well be a Democrat,” he stated a few weeks in the past. “However you’re associates at that individual time, and perhaps politics isn’t talked about on the dinner desk.”

Learn: Don’t speak LIV within the locker room.

Westwood wasn’t fairly so diplomatic when talking with reporters after his first spherical Thursday. When requested about Tiger Woods’ rebuke of LIV from earlier this week, Westwood stated, “He’s acquired a vested curiosity, hasn’t he? The LIV gamers will speak up LIV. The PGA Tour gamers that aren’t on the LIV Tour will speak the PGA Tour up and put down the LIV tour. I don’t pay an excessive amount of to individuals’s opinions.”

To which a reporter stated, “However he’s saying gamers which have gone to LIV have turned their again on those that made them.”

Tiger Woods stretched out during a wait on Thursday at St. Andrews' Old Course.

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Westwood: “Tiger’s entitled to his opinion.”

One key query looming over the LIV drama is whether or not LIV gamers shall be barred from the majors. There’s no indication that they are going to be however there additionally has been no indication that they gained’t. The matter hinges largely on whether or not LIV is accredited by the Official World Golf Rating; if that occurs, Norman has stated, “all the pieces takes care of itself.”

Meantime, gamers are taking a wait-and-see method.

Gooch, 30, who’s taking part in in his simply his second Open — he completed T33 a 12 months in the past at Royal St. George’s — was requested if he feels any “additional motivation” this week given this might doubtlessly be his final Open begin.

“I imply, it could be a cool one to exit on,” he stated. “Hopefully not, although.

“I’d wish to assume that the majors want to have the most effective gamers on the planet taking part in of their occasions in any case that’s occurring, however clearly that’s less than me. It’s as much as different individuals. Hopefully this gained’t be my final one.”

Presumably, Dustin Johnson feels the identical method. Johnson this week is taking part in in his thirteenth Open; 4 instances he has completed within the prime 10, together with a runner-up end in 2011. He stated he fell in love with hyperlinks golf when he first visited the U.Okay. throughout his senior 12 months at Coastal Carolina. “I like the best way it makes you assume on each shot, the place you wish to hit it, the place you need the ball to finish up,” he stated.

After posting a five-under 67 Friday, Johnson was requested the identical query that Gooch had been: Had been he and the opposite LIV gamers close to the highest of the leaderboard galvanized by the anti-LIV rhetoric?

“I don’t actually know what you’re speaking about,” he stated. “For me, clearly, they’re all good gamers and taking part in properly this week.”

Garcia was additionally posed the identical query. He was much more dismissive.

“I don’t care what they are saying,” he stated. 

alan bastable

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s government editor, Bastable is answerable for the editorial path and voice of one of many sport’s most revered and extremely trafficked information and repair websites. He wears many hats — enhancing, writing, ideating, creating, daydreaming of at some point breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely gifted and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Earlier than grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the options editor at GOLF Journal. A graduate of the College of Richmond and the Columbia College of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey along with his spouse and foursome of youngsters.

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