David Puig blocks out LIV noise at U.S. Am, undecided on ASU return
PARAMUS, N.J. – David Puig has his blinders on.
So, as he’s navigated his way deeper into this U.S. Amateur at The Ridgewood Country Club, he hasn’t given much mind to the noise being generated by critics of the LIV Golf circuit, in which the Arizona State standout has competed in two of the Saudi-backed league’s first three events as an amateur.
“There are people who are happy for me for playing those tournaments and having good opportunities for an amateur,” Puig said, “and then there are people who think other stuff. I don’t pay attention to the bad stuff.”
This week’s U.S. Amateur field included two players who have teed it up in a LIV event, Puig and 15-year-old T.K. Chantananuwat, who played in the inaugural London tournament but hasn’t competed since. (Chantananuwat missed the 36-hole cut at Ridgewood.) Their participation initially raised some concerns because the pair were listed on LIV’s official money list, with Puig being credited for $267,000 in earnings from his two starts.
But the USGA released a statement, first to Golfweek, on Monday morning to dispel any rumors, saying, “We have had conversations with both players regarding their relationship with LIV Golf and, based on that discussion, we have affirmed their status as an amateur golfer and that they are both eligible to compete this week at the U.S. Amateur.”
Puig confirmed to GolfChannel.com that he hasn’t accepted any prize money from LIV nor has inked an NIL deal to recoup what he’s given up by playing as an amateur. Instead, he’s received exemptions into LIV events the same as when he was invited to play in the DP World Tour’s Spanish Open last year.
As Puig explains it, invites from other tours have been hard to obtain. So, when LIV opened its arms to the promising young Spaniard, he saw it as an opportunity to “learn and keep getting better,” even if he’s taken some heat for it.
“I’ve always been watching the PGA Tour since I was a kid, and I’ve never gotten any exemptions, and on the European Tour, it’s been hard,” Puig said. “Then LIV comes and offers me these exemptions, so I’ve been thankful to them for giving me a chance to play against some of the best players in the world.”
Puig admits it’s been a “weird feeling” with so much uncertainty in the professional golf world right now, especially for young players trying to forge their paths from amateurs to the pros. He also said that he’s still undecided on whether he’ll play his final season for the Sun Devils.
What he does know is he’s committed to represent Spain in the World Amateur Team Championships in Paris in a couple of weeks. He’ll also play the Sept. 16-18 LIV event at Rich Harvest Farms outside of Chicago next month, which are the same dates as Arizona State’s second fall event, the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational south of Chicago. It’s not uncommon, though, for top college players to miss college tournaments for pro events, especially in the fall.
Puig said regardless of his decision on college golf, he plans to remain in Tempe and finish his degree. He also noted that should he make it deeper at the U.S. Amateur this week, it could influence his plans as well.
“It’s hard because I came from not a lot of money … and you have to look out for your family,” Puig said. “Obviously, at LIV, the players they have, it’s getting so much better. It’s been a really good way to learn and get experience. But I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Should Puig return, he’ll slot into a loaded Sun Devils lineup that includes sophomore Preston Summerhays and incoming freshman Luke Potter, who joined Puig in the Round of 32 at Ridgewood. If he doesn’t, he’ll have the full backing of his coaches and teammates.
“David is an amazing Sun Devil, is and has been the heart and soul of our team, he’s very loyal to our school and our program,” Arizona State head coach Matt Thurmond said. “Whatever he does, we support him because we know he does the right things for the right reasons.”