There was no complaining, no bitterness. Carlos Ortiz stood over a pitch shot on the final hole of LIV Golf Houston confident he would win, and certain he would be asked later about the fact he will not be playing in this week’s US Open at Pinehurst.

Ortiz didn’t save par, but with a final-round 67 and a 15-under-par total (201), he held on for a one-shot win over Adrian Meronk when the Polish golfer missed a birdie putt to force a playoff. Moments later, speaking to reporters, Ortiz owned his decision to join the league – which does not award Official World Golf Ranking points – and his failure to advance through US Open final qualifying at the Dallas site three weeks ago.

“It’s a shame I doubled the last hole to miss the qualifier; it hurt a lot,” Ortiz said after winning his first LIV title. “I’ve been playing great. But I think with time, we’re going to get back into the majors because I know that I’m one of the best players in the world right now, and I deserve to be there. But the way things are happening right now, it’s kind of hard.”

Ortiz’s faith that LIV players will soon be given an avenue into the majors was probably boosted by recent comments made by USGA chief championship officer, John Bodenhamer. He said that the organiser of the US Open was evaluating its eligibility criteria as it relates to LIV players. The fledgling league will send 12 golfers to Pinehurst, which is three fewer than in 2023.

“We’ve watched what is happening in professional golf unfold and we’ve seen a lot of good players go over to LIV and so we’re thinking a lot about it, we’ve talked a lot about it,” Bodenhamer said. “I think it’s reasonable to expect that at some point, yes, we would create a pathway or someway that we would get those great players, give them an opportunity to be unified again.”

Bodenhamer’s comments follow the PGA of America awarding invitations to seven LIV players for the PGA Championship last month, and after Augusta National did the same for LIV star Joaquin Niemann for the Masters in April. As for the PGA Tour, representatives including commissioner Jay Monahan and Tiger Woods met with counterparts from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, including governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan, in New York late last week. The rendezvous came just more than a year after the framework agreement was announced on June 6, 2023. After the New York meeting, however, a deal to involve the PIF as investors in PGA Tour Enterprises was described only as “accelerating” in a press release by the tour on Saturday. “More progress was made,” the vague statement said.

In the meantime, world No.232 Ortiz and his LIV peers face uncertainty until pro golf’s majors dilemma is resolved. Aside from a $US4 million winner’s prize for LIV Houston, Ortiz said some consolation could be found in focusing on gaining entry to the Open Championship at Royal Troon, as well as representing his native Mexico at the Olympics in Paris in August.

“I’ll do my best to get into the British Open, and I also have the Summer Olympics, too, other than the LIV tournaments coming up,” said Ortiz, who will have to enter 36-hole final qualifying in early July for the Open. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

For now, Ortiz will forget about the US Open and focus instead on his love affair with Texas. He went to college at the University of North Texas and decided to set up life in Dallas with his wife and children. He won his only PGA Tour title at the 2020 Houston Open down the road at Memorial Park.

“I guess Texas likes me, and I like Texas back,” he said.

Down the leaderboard from Ortiz and Meronk was a tie for third place that included Spain’s David Puig, who did qualify for the US Open at the Lake Merced site near San Francisco, and Patrick Reed. Reed is not in the US Open, having ran out of the eligibility this year that came with his 2018 Masters victory. He was unable to play in US Open qualifying due to a scheduling conflict that arose from being invited to the PGA at Valhalla.

Lucas Herbert was the top Australian, having tied for sixth place at 10-under, five behind Ortiz. Of the other Australians, Marc Leishman finished at four-under, Matt Jones was one-under and Cameron Smith was four-over and tied 48th alongside Anthony Kim.

LIV’s 12-player contingent for Pinehurst includes Puig, as well as 2020 champion Bryson DeChambeau, Tyrrell Hatton, 2016 winner Dustin Johnson, the 2014 winner at Pinehurst Martin Kaymer, two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka, Meronk, Phil Mickelson, 2021 winner Jon Rahm, Smith, Dean Burmester and Eugenio Chacarra. Rahm withdrew from LIV Houston after playing just six holes of the second round because of an infected left foot.