Duston Johnson, one of the players who migrated to the LIV, on a practice day in Boston.  Photo Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images/AFP

The historical country-club of Boston, one of the five founding members of the The United States Golf Association (USGA), will receive from this Thursday the 122nd edition of the US Open, which will be held in the midst of the “war” between the PGA, the organization that, until now, handled the reins of that sport, and the LIV Golf Invitational Series, the Super League financed by the Saudi monarchy that seduced several great world golf stars with their millions. Is that after the rain of criticism generated by the decision of that group of players to accept the proposal of the Arab competition, a climate of tension was generated within that sport and the return of some of the “deserters”, led by Phil Michaelsonthreatens to overshadow the action of the third Major of the season and steal the limelight in the Massachusetts field.

What’s more, already on Monday, when the club opened its doors for the start of training, the conversation turned very little around golf. Especially when Mickelson appeared on the scene and stood in front of the microphones for the traditional pre-show press conference. “I mean it’s nice to be back, it’s nice to meet all of you again”, started the Californian with a smile. It was the only pleasant moment of the talk. What followed were long uncomfortable and tense minutes, which, for many, set the tone for what will be experienced during the weekend.

The big question ahead of the first round does not seem to be how the favorites will perform in a course with a lot of history, but which has undergone some changes in its design for this occasion. But how the American public will receive the golfers who played last week’s inaugural LIV event in London.

Duston Johnson, one of the players who migrated to the LIV, on a practice day in Boston. Photo Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images/AFP

Due to the reactions and comments that were reflected on social networks, people are divided. Although a large number of American fans were very harsh on those players, especially Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Turk Pettit, Peter Uihlein, hudson swafford, Andy Ogletree, Bryson DeChambeau Y patrick reedthe golfers from that country who went to the Arab league and were consequently suspended by the PGA Tour (although some gave up their memberships).

The criticism came, above all, from survivors and relatives of the victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 9, 2001, who treated Mickelson and company as “traitors.”

The organization “9/11 Families United” He sent a letter to those players in which he pointed out the role that Saudi Arabia had in the crash of the two planes against the Twin Towers and highlighted that “15 of the 19 hijackers” were from that country, as well as Osama bin Laden.

“When you associate with the Saudis you become complicit in their cover-up and help give them the reputation cover they crave. It feels like a betrayal. My husband was a beginning golfer. He was a fan of Mickelson. You are not interested in promoting integrity in sport and are part of sportwashing”, could be read in the text signed by Terry Stradapresident of the organization and whose husband died in the attack.

"I don't understand guys of a similar age to me.  I think they took the easy way out" McIlroy said.  Photo Andrew Redington/Getty Images/AFP

“I don’t understand kids of a similar age to me. I think they took the easy way out,” McIlroy said. Photo Andrew Redington/Getty Images/AFP

Asked for his opinion on those words, Mickelson commented: “I would say to the Strada family, to all who have lost their loved ones, that I have deep sympathy and empathy for them. I cannot stress it enough.”

The Californian, the most popular golfer in the United States behind Tiger Woods, was asked how he felt about the possibility of losing the support of many of his fans for his decision to play LIV. And his answer was as careful as all the ones he gave at the conference.

“I understand that many have strong opinions and feelings regarding my decision. And I respect that,” said the man who will seek his seventh Major and his first US Open.

“The Boston crowd is one of the best in the sport, and I think they’ve been very supportive of me over the years and I really appreciate that. Their enthusiasm and their energy creates a great atmosphere, so whether it’s positive or negative towards me directly, I think it will provide an incredible setting to celebrate this championship”, he commented on the chance that some spectators will boo him or shout against him, something that did not happen in the practice days.

"I never played for money, I play for the love of the sport"Rahm assured.  PhotoWarren Little/Getty Images/AFP

“I never played for money, I play for the love of the game,” Rahm said. PhotoWarren Little/Getty Images/AFP

The reaction of colleagues

Reunion with some of your colleagues could also be a bit tense. It is that there were not a few players who criticized the departure of their teammates to the Saudi Super League, although they were careful not to use strong words and even admitted to understanding them.

“As a golfer, I have the utmost respect for Phil. I was disappointed in the way he acted,” the Irishman said on Tuesday. Rory McIlroy, champion last Sunday in Canada. “I understand that many who are over 40, like him, have been tempted by the offer of money. But I don’t understand guys who are a similar age to me and have their best years ahead of them. I think they took the easier way.”

Spaniard Jon Rahm, who will defend the US Major title in Boston, commented: “I understand, to put it kindly, the appeal of LIV, but I wouldn’t choose it. The format doesn’t appeal to me. And I never played for money, I play for the love of the game and I want to compete against the best. And nobody talks about the recent London tournament for its prestige.”

How economically attractive is the new league? Mickelson received a $200 million bonus to play it. Johnson, one of 150 million. the australian Greg Norman, former number one and visible face of the tournament, said that Woods rejected an offer of 1,000 million to join. To this we must add the juicy prize pool: each tournament distributes 25 million and for winning the individual title in London, the South African charl schwartzel took 4 million. The US Open, meanwhile, will distribute 12.5 million, of which “barely” 2,250,000 will go to the winner.

"It's sad that the PGA Tour could be hurt by some people leaving."Thomas said.  PhotoWarren Little/Getty Images/AFP

“It’s sad that the PGA Tour could be hurt by some people leaving,” Thomas said. PhotoWarren Little/Getty Images/AFP

“I grew up my whole life wanting to play the PGA Tour. Wanting to break records, make history, play the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup… That all of that could be hurt by some of the people leaving, it’s just sad. There’s no amount of money you can get that makes you happy doing something you don’t love or enjoy,” he said. justin thomasformer number one in the world.

The American also lamented that, within the framework of a tournament as important as the US Open, they continued to talk about the Arab league.

A reading that his compatriot also did Brooks Koepka: “I’m tired of these talks, I don’t get it. I’m trying to focus on the US Open and we keep talking about last week. All of that is throwing a black cloud over that tournament.”

The crack caused by the inauguration of the new Arab league is stealing attention in the run-up to a US Open that will celebrate its 122nd edition this weekend. Will golf take center stage again at Boston’s historic Country Club when tournament action kicks off this Thursday?

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