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Sky Sports yet to agree broadcast deal for US Open as talks hit stalemate

Sky yet to agree a deal after proposal by USGA turned down. Crenshaw hopes ‘cooler heads prevail’ at dinner with LIV rebels

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 baulked at the price initially quoted to them 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 when approached by the Guardian about the situation. A spokesperson for 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.”

Still, time is running out. Sky will be confident in its negotiating position given the lack of alternatives available to the USGA. Their necessity to cover this championship could also be diminished by timings associated with a tournament 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, with the 2018 US PGA Championship broadcast by Eleven Sports after no deal could be struck with Sky. However, that coverage was widely criticised by golf fans and the tournament immediately returned to Sky’s platform.

Fitzpatrick’s glory at Brookline last June was one of the iconic moments of the British sporting year. He became just 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 Tuesday could trigger some awkward moments. Phil Mickelson, Sergio García and Dustin Johnson are among the group of LIV golfers 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.”

Source: The Guardian