Andrew Coltart: LIV has hit golf like an earthquake and is threatening entire fabric of game

Andrew Coltart has returned to Brookline, where he has “mixed emotions” from the 1999 Ryder Cup, feeling that golf has been “hit by an earthquake” that is ripping the game apart.

The Scot is part of the Sky Sports commentary team for the 122nd US Open, which starts at The Country Club in a suburb of Boston on Thursday.

It’s where Coltart made his one and only appearance in the Ryder Cup, sitting out the opening two days before being thrown in at the deep end by European captain Mark James against Tiger Woods in the singles, suffering a 3&2 defeat.

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That match involved a controversial lost-ball incident but, more than 20 years on, it was a ripple in the ocean compared to what’s happening in the game at the moment around LIV Golf.

Andrew Coltart will be part of the Sky Sports Golf team covering the 122nd US Open at The Country Club in Brookline. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson were among the players who took part in a first Saudi Arabia-backed $25 million event in England last week, with Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed also now signed up for the next one in Portland later in the month.

The PGA Tour has suspended members playing under the LIV Golf banner, with the DP World Tour expected to make an announcement next week about what action it might take against the likes of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter.

“This has hit golf like an earthquake, causing a rift in the game on a scale like nothing we have ever seen before, or even imagined,” said Coltart, who hails from Thornhill in Dumfries & Galloway. “It really is threatening the entire fabric of the game.

“The background to this week is a shame, because golf could really do with a period of relative calm. We would all love to see a week of magic golf, with a great winner crowned at the end of it. Sadly, it looks like it may be overshadowed by the whole LIV Golf controversy.

Andrew Coltart during the 33rd Ryder Cup match in Boston in 1999. Picture: AllsportUK/Allsport.

“I was in Toronto last week for the Canadian Open, and it was impossible to get away from that issue - either in the locker room, or on commentary for Sky.

“And so much of the goodwill in and around the game seems to have suffered because of all this. Thankfully, guys like Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas are showing a high regard for what Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and the rest created, and that is helping to provide the right sort of balance.

“I just wonder what the DP World Tour’s reaction is going to be. But I understand why they did not just follow the PGA Tour’s lead and issue immediate bans. The threat of legal action is obvious, and in America you only have one legal system to deal with.

“The DP World Tour extends across dozens of countries, in Europe and beyond, so it must be a nightmare trying to anticipate what the courts will decide.

“And what is going to happen to the players who have signed on with LIV, and suddenly find themselves surplus to requirements because bigger names make the switch? Where do they go from here if they are banned in the USA and Europe? Are LIV going to continue bankrolling them if they are not actually playing?

“The whole issue really is throwing up more questions than answers.”

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