McIlroy, Johnson considered US Open boycott

According to a report in Golf Digest magazine, dual US Open winner’s Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson were among players believed to be considering a boycott of next week’s championship at Pebble Beach.

Talk of a boycott stems from the perennial complaints generated each year as the game’s best players tee-up in a US Open.

Dustin Johnson Dustin Johnson kisses the US Open trophy (Credit: USGA)

The common theme of all complaints each year has been the host course set-up as we witnessed a year ago at Shinnecock Hills when on day three of the 2018 event just three players managed to break par on the Long Island located course.

Three years earlier in the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay on the US West Coast where Sweden’s Henrik Stenson likened the greens to “putting on broccoli” while South Africa’s legendary Gary Player felt the course was designed by “a man who had to have one leg shorter than the other”.

And it’s not just the course set-up generating anger among the game’s best with Johnson the centre of a bizarre rules controversy over the final round of the 2016 US Open at Oakmont.

For ‘DJs’ closing seven holes he, and a worldwide viewing audience, were left unsure if Johnson was to be slapped with a penalty after his ball had moved as he about to address it.

Johnson was penalisied a stroke and he did a very red-faced USGA a huge favour winning by three shots.

The US Open never seems to escape bad-mouthing.

“We had about 10-15 guys who were willing to sit out after 2016,” Golf Digest quotes a winner of multiple PGA Tour titles as saying. “Some of them were big names – Dustin was one, Rory was another.”

A player identified as a major champion and former world number one is quoted as saying: “I was prepared to do it. Absolutely.”

Players spoke to the magazine on condition of anonymity, and another added: “I figure we needed about 25 guys (to pull out of the US Open), and I think we could have gotten there based on what I was hearing from players.

“Really, just one would have done it, but Tiger (Woods) wasn’t playing at the time. Without us, they (the USGA) don’t have a tournament.”

The well-respected magazine cites players were also dissatisfied with the distribution of money from the USGA’s television deal with Fox, which began in 2015.

A winner of several PGA Tour titles is quoted in the article as saying: “I still don’t know where [all the additional money from Fox] goes. I’ve tried a thousand times to get an answer.”

“The USGA is making about $100m a year that we know about, that’s just US TV revenue, not international TV money, merchandise and sales and so on.”

“If you can show us how you’re using that money to grow the game, we’d be all about it. But they haven’t shown us that.”