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Phil Mickelson has hit out at the USGA over a change made to exemption criteria that means Talor Gooch is no longer in next month’s US Open.

Gooch, the winner of the most recent two LIV Golf League events, believed he would be playing at Los Angeles Country Club after qualifying for the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship last year.

That was prior to him being suspended by the US-based circuit when he joined LIV.

Making an appearance on The 73rd Hole Podcast, Gooch claimed the USGA “retroactively” changed the wording of his exemption category to state that, in order to be exempt, players also had to be eligible to play on the PGA Tour.

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“That was obviously disappointing because that changed rule only affected one person, which was me, so that was frustrating and tough,” said Gooch.

The USGA denied making that change “retroactively”, as Gooch had claimed, “but rather as a part of our annual review process and included within several other changes made to the criteria for the upcoming 2023 championship.”

Phil Mickelon, however, isn’t having it.

A tweet featuring a quote from USGA CEO Mike Whan caught the six-time major champion’s eye earlier today.

It said: “Any time we make changes to our criteria going forward, it impacts somebody and that stinks, but we can only look forward.”

Appearing to address Whan directly, Mickelson replied: “Hey Mike,what about changing a rule and making it retroactive to exclude someone who has already qualified? How can Talor Gooch not take that personal? It’s a direct attack on him and his career. How does it benefit the usga or US open? It doesn’t. Just a d!*k move.

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In response to another Twitter user pointing out that, if Gooch was one of the best golfers in the world, he would already have qualified, Mickelson added: “Yep. He qualified 9 months ago via Tour championship. 3 months ago Whan changed the wording on the qualifying criteria to take it away. Total d!*k move by Whan. He leads our governing body. Sad.”

The 123rd US Open takes places at Los Angeles Country Club June 15-18, 2023.


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

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