Players are in Brookline, Massachusetts for the 2022 U.S. Open, but only a portion of the talk has been about this week’s tournament. The LIV Golf Invitational Series has dominated much of the conversation as several players who left the PGA Tour for the rival golf league compete for the year’s third major championship.

“You can’t go anywhere without somebody bringing it up,” Justin Thomas said, via The Associated Press. “This is the U.S. Open, and this is an unbelievable venue, a place with so much history, an unbelievable field, so many storylines, and yet that seems to be what all the questions are about.

“That’s not right for the U.S. Open. That’s not right for us players,” he said. “But that’s, unfortunately, where we’re at right now.”

Phil Mickelson was grilled by reporters for a half-hour Monday about his decision to join the controversial Saudi-backed golf tour. Mickelson briefly acknowledged the “incredible financial commitment” that comes with playing for LIV Golf, though he didn’t seem overly forthcoming in trying to explain why he joined the PGA Tour’s new rival.

Mickelson is reportedly being paid close to $200 million to play for LIV Golf. That doesn’t include the share of the $25 million in prize money that the 51-year-old will vie for in each tournament.

The inaugural LIV Golf event concluded Saturday at the Centurion Club near London. Mickelson tied for 33rd place in the 48-player field for a $146,000 prize.

One day later, Rory McIlroy won the RBC Canadian Open for a $1.566 million payout. By comparison, Charl Schwartzel took home $4.75 million in total prize money for winning the LIV Golf event.

In the days leading up to the 2022 U.S. Open, McIlory hasn’t been shy to criticize LIV Golf and the players who joined the series.

“If it keeps going the way it’s going, it’s gonna fracture the game,” Rory McIlroy told Sky Sports Tuesday.

The RBC Canadian Open marked McIlory’s 21st career win on the PGA Tour. It put him ahead of LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman, who has 20 PGA Tour wins on his resume, a fact that McIlory said gave him added motivation.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has suspended 17 players for competing with LIV Golf and accused them of betrayal. While McIlroy wouldn’t go that far, he said it was disappointing for some of the world’s best golfers to resign from the PGA Tour.

“I think the players that have decided to stay on the PGA Tour, they maybe feel slighted in some way or feel like those guys have been selfish because it’s for personal gain,” McIlroy said. “I think in any business, we all have to lift each other up and try to make it as best we can for everyone. I think if those guys thought outside of themselves, they’d see that this wasn’t best for everyone.”

Unlike many of the players on the LIV Golf Tour, Mickelson hasn’t given up his PGA Tour membership. A six-time major winner, the U.S. Open is the only major that has eluded Mickelson in his career.

“I’ve worked hard to earn a lifetime membership,” Mickelson said Monday. “I’ve worked hard to give back to the PGA Tour and the game of golf throughout my 30-plus years of professional golf, and I’ve earned that lifetime membership, so I believe that it should be my choice.”

McIlory and Thomas are the favorites to win the U.S. Open. The USGA hasn’t barred LIV players from competing this week, so there’s a chance that a golfer could win the major shortly after being suspended by the PGA Tour.

Dustin Johnson has the best U.S. Open odds of any player who left the PGA Tour.

Rory McIlroy watches his tee shot on the sixth hole during his five-under par 65 opening round Thursday at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills
Rory McIlroy watches his tee shot on the sixth hole during his five-under par 65 opening round Thursday at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP / Christian Petersen