Little life left among LIV Tour loyalists at the U.S. Open

The second day of play at the U.S. Open at The Country Club amounted to one more kick to the nether regions of the LIV Tour loyalists.

After being thoroughly outplayed Thursday by the PGA Tour loyalists, the 15 LIV Tour commits returned to Brookline for Friday’s second round to be even more thoroughly outplayed.

With only four exceptions, there’ll be no need for the LIV Tour guys to undergo further humiliation this weekend. They didn’t make the cut.

The raw numbers testify to how thoroughly PGA Tour cadre members have dominated the first two days of this national championship, and how it is virtually inevitable that they will also dominate the final two days.

  • The average 36-hole score of a PGA Tour loyalist was 142.66 strokes. That’s 2.06 strokes better than the full field average.
  • The average 36-hole score of a LIV Tour loyalist was 145.53 strokes. That’s eight-tenths of a stroke worse than the full field average and nearly three strokes worse than the PGA Tour guys.
  • Of the 64 players who made the cut, 45 – that’s 70 percent  — were PGA loyalists. Another 14 – 22 percent – were either amateurs or players unaffiliated with either of the big-money tours. That left only LIV Tour commits Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, and Richard Bland plus Brooks Koepka – whose status is not entirely clear — to flesh out the weekend field.
  • Of the 22 players within four shots of the lead, 20 are PGA Tour loyalists. The only exceptions are M.J. Daffue, who plays on the Korn-Ferry Tour, and Travis Vick, an NCAA champion and runner-up in the 2021 U.S. Amateur.
  • The highest placed LIV Tour guys, Johnson and Reed, will begin the weekend in a tie for 31st place six strokes out of the lead. DeChambeau and Bland are another stroke back in a tie for 40th.

The guts of the LIV brand were sent packing Friday.

Phil Mickelson, the most visible face of the insurgent tour, shot 151 and tied for 135th in a 156-player field. Louis Oosthuizen shot 146. Talor Gooch, considered one of the budding PGA Tour stars when he bolted last month, turned in an uninspired 145 and was never a factor.

Reigning U.S. Amateur champion, James Piot, who made his professional debut in the LIV Golf inaugural event, followed a first-day 69 with a Friday 75 for a 144 total that left him one stroke off the cutline. Sergio Garcia also shot 144 and left town.

If head-to-head results from the first two days of Open competition have established anything, it is that the LIV Golf Tour is going to have to poach several more stars if it hopes to even approach the quality of competition presently offered by the PGA Tour.

There have been rumors, not substantiated but also not fully shot down by the target player, that LIV leaders are making a heavy push to entice 36-hole co-leader Collin Morikawa to their events.

He is of course already a two-time Major champion, having won the 2020 PGA and the 2021 British Open. By Sunday night, the 25-year-old could be three-quarters of the way to a career grand slam.

His comment about the LIV Tour during a pre-tournament press conference this week was just vague enough to be inscrutable.

“We don’t want to be worrying about this a year or two years down the road,” he told reporters.

Make of that what you will.

For the present, Morikawa has more pressing concerns, including the significant shadows cast by Rory McIlroy and defending champion Jon Rahm, both in a large group just one stroke in the wake of Morikawa and co-leader Joel Dahmen.

It is perhaps no coincidence that in a week when the LIV Tour forces have performed so ingloriously, Rahm and McIlroy have emerged as two of the insurgent Tour’s harshest critics.

If either of them were to emerge with the trophy this weekend, that would be the ultimate slap at the Saudi-based Tour.