After A Tumultuous Week Can The US Open Start To Bridge The Golf Divide?
It is fair to say that there has never been a week quite so explosive in the world of golf since, well, ever to be brutally honest.
The 48 professionals that teed it up at the very first LIV Golf Invitational have been effectively treated as pariahs by the US PGA Tour, especially the 17 players that held a card for the tour itself.
With the threat of being banned indefinitely from competing in US PGA organised events, their future to play in the Majors and competitions like the Ryder Cup had looked in jeopardy and all that was before what happened last week.
So before we bring you a preview of this week’s US Open Championship at the Country Club in Brookline, as well as the latest odds on some of the top prospects to win as offered by bet365 Sport, let’s first take a look back at an acrimonious week in the world of golf.
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Let’s now turn our attention to all the action, on and off the course, that has taken place in the last week of golf.
LIV Golf Invitational – PGA Tour Timeline Of Trouble
The easiest way to document the crazy events of the past week is through a timeline, so here is what has happened in the world of golf.
- Tuesday 7th June
12pm (approx) – The USGA announce that they will not suspend LIV Golf Tour players from the US Open and those that have qualified for the tournament will be free to play in the event at Brookline, Massachusetts the weekend after next.
- Thursday 9th June
1pm (approx.) – The US PGA sanctioned RBC Canadian Open begins at St Georges Golf Club in Montreal, Canada with the early starters getting their round underway.
2pm– The LIV Golf Invitational tournament begins at the Centurion Club in St Albans, just north of London. The 48-man individual and team tournament features a shotgun start with a real-time leaderboard meaning all players are out on the course at the start of play.
2.30pm (approx) – The US PGA Tour confirms that the 17 players that had previously held or continue to hold a PGA Tour Card and who started the LIV Golf Invitational that day have been suspended indefinitely from all US PGA Tour competitions and tours, The ban also includes feeder tours such as the Korn Ferry Tour. PGA Tour chief Jay Monahan released a strongly worded memo confirming the ban to all members and criticising their motives for joining the rival tour.
LIV Golf quickly issues a statement calling the move “vindictive”.
5pm (approx) – While a number of LIV Tour Golfers amongst the 17 had already resigned their PGA Tour Card, a smaller number had not. One of those players, Ian Poulter, indicates that he is considering taking legal action against the US PGA as a result of the ban.
- Friday 10th June
1pm – The Second Round of the RBC Canadian Open gets under way.
2pm – The Second Round LIV Golf Invitational begins.
2.30pm – LIV Golf Tour organisers announce that one of the foremost players on the US PGA Tour, Bryson DeChambeau will play in the next LIV Golf Tour event in Portland, Oregon later this month. There are rumours circulating that several other prominent US PGA Tour players may elect to play in the next event too.
Throughout The Day – Various PGA Tour players such as Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas publicly announce their support for the US PGA decision to ban the players playing in the LIV Golf Invitational.
11pm (approx) – The Second Round of the RBC Canadian Open is completed, and the cut is made, meaning approximately half the field can head home without earning anything from the tournament and making a net loss once all expenses have been paid for.
- Saturday 11th June
2pm – The third and final round of the LIV Golf Invitational starts.
3pm (approx) – The Third Round of the RBC Canadian Open starts.
7pm (approx) – Charl Schwartzel wins the first LIV Golf Invitational, picking up a $4m winners cheque, the highest cash prize ever won in a single golf tournament. The South African also picks up a further $750,000 as his team also win the team competition. The golfer finishing 48th and last in the individual event, Andy Ogletree, picks up $120,000.
In this one tournament Schwartzel earned as much as he had in the previous four years as a member of the US PGA Tour.
- Sunday 12th June
Throughout The Day – Rumours persist that at least six more US PGA Tour golfers are set to join the LIV Golf Tour at the next event. Patrick Reed confirms he plans to play and other names strongly linked with the switch throughout the day include Rickie Fowler, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak, Matt Wolff and Bubba Watson. Pat Perez’ wife seems to confirm his participation in the second LIV Golf Invitational event in Portland unofficially on social media.
2pm – The fourth and final round of the RBC Canadian Open starts.
10pm – Rory McIlroy wins the RBC Canadian Open pocketing around $1,566,000 for his victory, over $3.1 million less than Charl Schwartzel won at the LIV Golf Invitational.
McIlroy then makes pointed reference to the LIV Golf Tour and its leader Greg Norman in his post round interview, commenting on the depth of quality in the field at PGA Tour events and how landing his 21st victory was pleasing as it means he passed Greg Norman’s 20 PGA Tour victories.
Only the players finishing inside the top 20 at the Canadian Open earned more than Andy Ogletree who finished 48th and last in the LIV Golf Invitational.
Four players earned over a million dollars at the Individual LIV Golf event, compared to just one at the RBC Canadian Open. In fact, if you add on the payments for the Team tournament, then that means three players earned over $2m (Schwartzel, Hennie du Plessis and Branden Grace) at the LIV Golf Event, while five players earned a million dollars or more. (Schwartzel, du Plessis, Grace plus Peter Uihlein and Sam Horsfield).
And next up for both sets of golfers is the US Open at Brookline in what should be a feisty battle.
US Open Latest Betting Odds
Bet365 Sport have Rory McIlroy the 10/1 favourite to win the US Open this week, ahead of Justin Thomas at 12/1. Both Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler have seen money over the last 24 hours as their prices have come in to 14/1 from 16/1 and 18/1 respectively.
Of the LIV Golf Tour professionals, the lowest priced option is Dustin Johnson at 40/1 with Louis Oosthuiizen 75/1, Talor Gooch 80/1, Patrick Reed 90/1, Bryson DeChambeau 100/1, Jason Kokrak 110/1, Kevin Na and Sergio Garcia both 150/1 and Phil Mickelson and Branden Grace are both 225/1.
Other LIV Tour players competing include Sam Horsfield (275/1) and Richard Bland (500/1).
The Country Club at Brookline was the host of the infamous 1999 Ryder Cup, the Battle of Brookline, which saw the US Team, staff and fans heavily criticised for their behaviour in their come-from-behind win over Europe on the final day.
What happened that day was documented in Mark James book “Into the Bear Pit” but it did prove to be a watershed moment in the tournament’s history, with subsequent events still highly competitive, but lacking the vitriol and bad sportsmanship seen in 1999 and also back in 1993 at Kiawah Island.
The course will be 7312 yards in length and par 70, and will feature a somewhat unusual set up using three and a half holes of the Primrose Course, along with 14 and a half holes from the Main Course, although this year the Par 3 12th will replace the Par 4 fourth hole in the US Open.
Who Will Win The US Open?
Given his excellent form of late it is easy to see why Rory McIlroy is the favourite to win the event with bet365 Sport, but winning back to back events, including a Major, is a very difficult task to complete.
Form suggests McIlroy, Thomas, Rahm and Scheffler are the men to back for a win and of that quartet, I’d probably go for Justin Thomas after he finished third last weekend.
However, with each way paid out down to 8th at bet365, I like the look of an each way punt on Irishman Seamus Power, who is now a 90/1 shot having been backed in from 100/1 on Monday this week.