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Golf-PGA-LIV merger has caused confusion, says U.S. Open holder Fitzpatrick

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The shock merger between the PGA Tour and the rival LIV circuit has left a confusing path forward for golfers, England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick said on Monday as he prepared to defend his U.S. Open title.

The best players in the world descend upon Los Angeles Country Club this week for the first major to be played after the bombshell announcement of a partnership between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Fitzpatrick delivered an extraordinary performance last year to claim his maiden major title in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he won 2013 U.S. Amateur, but said the ongoing drama was harder to ignore this time around.

“I seem to remember just last year just thinking about the tournament, just the U.S. Open,” he told reporters.

“It was obviously different because I had the tie to the golf course and the history there, so probably was easier for me to mentally focus on that and be in a better place than obviously all this confusion that’s going on this week.”

Fitzpatrick was among those who remained loyal to the PGA Tour during the rift, as many of his contemporaries defected to the rival circuit, lured by the super-sized pay days.

Asked if he believed he should be compensated in some way for not going to the LIV tour, Fitzpatrick let out a sigh and let the question hang in the air for several seconds before responding: “Yeah, pass.”

Members of LIV, which was bankrolled by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), had remained eligible to compete in majors, though their presence in Los Angeles this week will bring a super-sized spotlight at a time of uncertainty in the sport.

“I just don’t know what’s going on. I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on. Are we signing with the PIF, are we not signing with the PIF? I have no idea,” he said.

“Even though I guess it is confusing, it’s pretty clear that nobody knows what’s going on apart from about four people in the world.”

The U.S. Open begins on Thursday at the Los Angeles Country Club.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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