Fitzpatrick sets aside PGA-LIV worries to defend US Open title

By Rebecca BRYAN

Matt Fitzpatrick is putting any questions and concerns about the future of global golf on the back burner as he prepares to defend his US Open title at Los Angeles Country Club this week.

England’s Fitzpatrick was among the golfers, fans and sponsors stunned at last week’s announcement of an agreement between the US PGA Tour, Europe’s DP World Tour and breakaway LIV Golf’s Saudi backers.

The yet-to-be-finalized deal between the tours and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) is drawing scrutiny from US legislators as players — from both the established tours and LIV Golf — say they are awaiting details of what it means for them in what Fitzpatrick called a “confusing” time.

“I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on,” Fitzpatrick said. “Are we signing with the PIF? Are we not signing with the PIF? I have no idea.

“Even though I guess it is confusing, it’s pretty clear that nobody knows what’s going on apart from about four people in the world.”

On Thursday, however, he’ll be focused on solving the questions posed by the LACC North Course, hosting a US Open for the first time as the championship returns to Los Angeles after a 75-year absence.

“I think it’s overrated,” Fitzpatrick said of the effect the upheaval could have on performances this week.

“I think you’re not going to be stood on the first tee thinking, ‘Oh what’s going on in the golf world.’

“You’re thinking, it’s a par-four, where do I need to hit it, where is the wind. That’s all you’re thinking about.”

Reigning British Open champion Cameron Smith was one of the highest-profile PGA Tour players to make the jump to LIV Golf, which launched in October 2021 and lured top talent with record $25 million purses as well as money guarantees.

Smith said he, too, had been completely in the dark about the deal until he received a call from PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan shortly after the news broke in the media.

“I guess the first reaction was I thought it was kind of a joke that had come out,” Smith said. “And then (Al-Rumayyan) gave me a call and kind of explained what was going on.

“He didn’t really explain too much. I think there’s still a lot of stuff to be worked out, and as time goes on, we’ll get to know more and more.

“But there’s definitely a lot of curious players, I think, on both sides as to what the future is going to look like.”

Smith refused to speculate on suggestions that LIV could, in fact, be shut down and like Fitzpatrick said he is more worried this week about what happens on the North Course.

“I’m just taking it as it goes along,” he said. “For the moment it’s just trying to play the best golf I can and trying to win a US Open.” -© Agence France-Presse-