Sergio Garcia Failed to Qualify for the U.S. Open Because of LIV Golf, so He Found a Loophole
LIV Golf has been a considerable factor in both major championships to start the 2023 PGA Tour season. The rival tour represented three of the top six names on the final Masters leaderboard, and Brooks Koepka won the PGA Championship to infuriate the LIV critics rooting for his demise.
A few of the defectors who comfortably qualified for the first two majors of the year fared better than expected, but others haven’t been so lucky.
Because the Official World Golf Ranking doesn’t award points to LIV Golf, many players have fallen too far down the OWGR to automatically qualify for majors. Sergio Garcia, who hadn’t missed a major since the 1999 U.S. Open, couldn’t play in the PGA Championship because of his status in the OWGR. He failed to automatically qualify for next month’s U.S. Open, too, but the savvy veteran found a loophole that snuck him into the field just in time.
Sergio Garcia is feeling the negative consequences of joining LIV Golf
It’s no secret why some of the most established stars in golf left the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf. The schedule is lighter, there are no cuts, and the paychecks are astronomically larger than the ones available on the PGA Tour. But many of the defectors didn’t factor in the negative consequences associated with joining an upstart league.
The OWGR still refuses to award points for LIV Golf events, so these players have been steadily dropping down the rankings week after week. This is important because the OWGR can determine which players qualify for majors. If you slip too far down the list, you have to play your way to qualification another way.
In Garcia’s case, the Spaniard has dropped outside the top 200 in the OWGR, meaning he isn’t nearly high enough to automatically qualify for majors. Garcia didn’t crack the list for the PGA Championship and missed his first major in 24 years.
The 2017 Masters champ also failed to qualify for the U.S. Open next month, so he took matters into his own hands.
Sergio Garcia uses a loophole to qualify for the 2023 U.S. Open
There are dozens of ways to qualify for the U.S. Open. The easiest for Garcia over the years was to be ranked inside the top 60 in the OWGR, but that’s not a reality for the LIV golfer right now.
So, he sought out a loophole.
On Monday, Garcia entered the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier in Texas. He needed to finish eighth or better in the 120-man field to earn a spot in the next major championship, and that’s exactly what he did.
Garcia shot 66 at Bent Tree Country Club in the morning and 66 again at Northwood Club in the afternoon to finish in a tie for fourth place at 9 under par. The 11-time PGA Tour winner birdied his final hole of the day to narrowly escape a playoff for the final spot, so he’ll be teeing it up at LA Country Club next month for his 23rd straight U.S. Open.
The PGA Tour can try its hardest to shut out LIV Golf, but it can’t thwart these supposed enemies from playing their way into majors one way or another.