Matt Fitzpatrick’s defence of the US Open in June could be unavailable to a mainstream television audience in the UK, with Sky Sports yet to agree a deal to broadcast the third major of the year.
Sky has recently presented itself as the home of golf on television and that of major championships. Nonetheless, the US Open – which takes place at Los Angeles Country Club – has been notable by its absence from promotional reels. Industry insiders have confirmed Sky balked at the price initially quoted for a deal with the United States Golf Association, which is negotiated by a third‑party agent in the UK. Other USGA properties are likely to be included in any US Open agreement, but for now there is a stalemate.
Sky refused to comment but the USGA said: “Talks with Sky are ongoing and it’s premature to suggest the US Open will not be broadcast on Sky this year.”
Sky will be confident in its negotiating position given the lack of alternatives available to the USGA. Their motivation to cover the tournament could also be diminished by timings associated with it being staged on the west coast of the US. BBC television’s indifference towards golf will be emphasised again this week with no presence at the Masters. Neither Viaplay nor BT Sport has shown any real interest in delving into golf rights.
There is precedent for a major being shown elsewhere, as the 2018 US PGA Championship was broadcast by Eleven Sports after no deal could be struck with Sky. But that coverage was widely criticised and the tournament immediately returned to Sky.
Fitzpatrick’s glory at Brookline last June was one of the big moments of the British sporting year. He became the second English golfer since 1970 to claim the title.
Meanwhile, the two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw has admitted the appearance of LIV rebels at the Champions Dinner on Tuesdaytomorrow could trigger some awkward moments. Phil Mickelson, Sergio García and Dustin Johnson are among the group of LIV players who, as past Masters winners, are invited.
“I’m a little concerned to be honest,” Crenshaw said. “I’m not sure what is going to happen. I’m expecting that cooler heads will prevail and everything will be fine.”