Seven LIV golfers invited to PGA Championship

The PGA Championship officially has Tiger Woods in a field released Tuesday that includes invitations to seven players from Saudi-funded LIV Golf, giving the major 99 of the top 100 in the world ranking at Valhalla next week.

The PGA of America strives to have the top 100 in the world to maintain the tournament’s reputation for having the strongest field of the four majors, although it is not part of the criteria. Those hopes ended late Tuesday when Rikuya Hoshino (No. 94) withdrew.

The PGA leans on a catch-all category of “special invitations.” The group of LIV players includes Patrick Reed, whose tie for 12th in the Masters moved him inside the top 100. He is at No. 92, and the invitation keeps alive his streak of playing every major since the 2014 Masters.

The PGA Championship returns to Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky, for the fourth time on May 16-19. Rory McIlroy won at Valhalla the last time it was there in 2014. The course is best known for Woods’ playoff victory over Bob May in 2000 for his third straight major.

Joaquin Niemann, who won the Australian Open in December and has two LIV Golf wins this year, already received an invitation. The surprise was Talor Gooch announcing in an X post on Monday that he had been invited.

It was a sign the PGA of America’s selection committee was looking at LIV results on their own, as Gooch doesn’t play much outside the Saudi league. He won three times on LIV in 2023 and topped the season points list.

Other invitations went to Dean Burmester, Lucas Herbert and Adrian Meronk, all of them inside the top 100 in the world. The seventh invitation went to David Puig, the 22-year-old from Spain who is No. 106 in the ranking. Puig has finished in the top 10 in six of his past seven tournaments on the Asian Tour, including two wins.

LIV will be represented by 16 players, down from 18 a year ago.

There might have been one more, except Louis Oosthuizen turned down his invitation. Oosthuizen, who is No. 125 in the world, won twice late last year in South Africa in tournaments co-sanctioned by the European tour.

His manager, Carlos Rodriguez, said in a text message that Oosthuizen already had some personal commitments.

The LIV group includes defending champion Brooks Koepka, who goes for a fourth PGA Championship title. He is the only player to have won a major as a LIV Golf member.

Kerry Haigh, the championship director for the PGA of America, has said he would consider deserving players from tours around the world. Invitations were given to Tim Widing of Sweden, who has won consecutive tournaments on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Another invitation went to Kazuma Kobori, a 22-year-old born in Japan who now plays under the New Zealand flag. He has won three times this year in the Webex Players Series on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

The field has 21 club professionals — 20 from the PGA Professional Championship last week, and Michael Block, who qualified by finishing among the top 15 last year at Oak Hill.

The PGA is keeping two spots open in case the winners of the Wells Fargo Championship and the Myrtle Beach Classic are not already eligible. Only four players in the 69-man field at the Wells Fargo Championship have not qualified. The first alternate is Alex Smalley.

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