3 big takeaways from USGA CEO Mike Whan’s presser at US Open ft. LIV golfers’ qualification

2024 World Golf Hall of Fame Induction
USGA CEO Mike Whan during 2024 World Golf Hall of Fame Induction ahead of the US Open

USGA CEO Mike Whan held a press conference on Wednesday, June 12, ahead of the US Open. He was accompanied by USGA president Fred Perpall and Chief Championships Officer John Bodenhamer.

During the press conference, Whan spoke on several topics, including new conformance rules for golf balls and the LIV Golfers' qualification for the US Open.

Here's a look at three takeaways from Mike Whan's presser at the US Open.

Top three pointers from Mike Whan's press conference ahead of US Open 2024

1) The idea of regulating the driver is 'shelved' but not 'retired'

Last year, the USGA and the R&A introduced the ball rollback to control hitting distances in professional golf. During the press conference, Whan was asked if they had similar plans for drivers as well.

The USGA CEO responded that although they had discussed it, they were yet to find a way that wouldn't harm the game:

"We shelved it for now because we thought it was time to make a decision and put it on there, but we didn't retire the idea."

2) Separate pathway for LIV golfers in the US Open is 'feasible'

Mike Whan was also asked about the prospects of separate eligibility criteria for LIV golf professionals at the US Open.

He started by stating that half the field at the US Open was open, and around 35 Saudi-backed circuit players were competing at various qualifying events.

"So if they really wanted to be here, they could go play 36 holes and qualify, and some did, to their credit." he said.

He further stated that the US Open wasn't a closed field and didn't' require a committee or an invitation, as one could simply get in via qualifying:

"John (Bodenhamer) and I have both talked about it, and we're going to talk about it this off-season, whether or not there needs to be a path to somebody or somebodies that are performing really well on LIV that can get a chance to play in that way."

He added that the reason they were being more vocal now was because it was now the new world order, and in that case, they needed to review their eligibility criteria.

"I think it's feasible." he said. "I don't think it's a huge pathway, but we do offer other pathways through DP or Korn Ferry, so we know that there's an option to get there."

3) PGA Tour's opinions were taken into consideration for the ball rollback rule

During the press conference, Mike Whan also addressed the differences between the PGA Tour and USGA & RA over golf rollback. He said when they brought up the idea of modal local rules for the ball in professional golf, the PGA Tour and PGA of America shared their concerns with them.

"I always say we lead in a huddle," he said. "We try to bring the industry together and hear everybody's points of view, but at the end of the day, somebody has got to call a play, and that's our job, so we call a play."

Mike Whan added that the bifurcation of the golf ball was concerning to both the PGA Tour and the PGA of America. So, they considered their views on the final product so that the ruling had less impact on the recreational game.

"I don't think those were our probably choice No. 1, but the right choice, if you're actually leading in a huddle versus leading in a silo. Yeah, I think not only do we respect their opinions, but their opinions fundamentally shaped the final outcome," he concluded.

For the uninitiated, the golf ball roll-back rule will come into effect in January 2028.

Edited by Shobhit Kukreti
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