HomeSportsFurious over LIV Golf defections, British Open could change entry rules

Furious over LIV Golf defections, British Open could change entry rules

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — The organizer of the British Open pointedly warned Wednesday that it could change its entry rules for future tournaments, which could complicate the Claret Jug prospects of players who defected to the LIV Golf-backed series. by Saudi Arabia.

Although the R&A, which runs the Open, has not made a decision on how players will be able to join the 156-man field in 2023 and beyond, the organization’s chief executive, Martin Slumbers, has left open the possibility that the path to one of golf’s holiest tournaments could soon change.

“We will be reviewing our exemptions and qualification criteria for the Open,” Slumbers said at a news conference in St. Andrews on the eve of the Open kick-off on the Old Course. “We absolutely reserve the right to make changes” from previous years, he added.

“Players have to earn their place in the Open, and that’s central to its ethos and its unique global appeal,” said Slumbers, who did little to hide his disdain for the LIV series, which he condemned as “totally money-driven.” ”. and threatening “the merit-based culture and spirit of open competition that makes golf so special.”

Still, he noted that an outright player ban was “not on our agenda.”

Slumbers denied that the R&A was coordinating with organizers of other major golf tournaments to potentially exclude LIV players, whose ranks include Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed. But the chief executive of the United States Golf Association, which controls the US Open, said in June that the group would “re-evaluate” the criteria it uses to set the course for that tournament.

The PGA of America, which is in charge of the PGA Championship, has also signaled its contempt for the LIV series, which has offered players millions of dollars in guaranteed money to join uncut 54-hole tournaments with shotgun tees. . Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the invitation-only Masters Tournament, has so far kept quiet about its intentions.

Like other tournaments, the R&A publishes a long list of ways players can qualify for the Open, which takes place next year at Royal Liverpool. This year, for example, the options included a place in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking on a given date.

The group that oversees the Official World Golf Ranking system said on Tuesday that LIV Golf, which gets much of its funding from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, had applied for “inclusion” this month and was beginning to review the request.

British Open organizers have gone to great lengths this week to turn attention to the 150th tournament. But the turmoil surrounding LIV has repeatedly intruded. Over the weekend, the R&A acknowledged that it hadn’t invited Greg Norman, the LIV CEO who won the Open twice, to this year’s festivities in St. Andrews.

And on Tuesday, Tiger Woods took advantage of a press conference to denounce LIV.

“What are these players doing for guaranteed money? What’s the incentive to practice?” Woods asked. “What’s the incentive to go out there and win it on the dirt? They just pay you a lot of money up front and you play some events and you play 54 holes.”

Players who moved from the PGA Tour, which has come under scrutiny from the Justice Department for its efforts to maintain its roster of golfers, to LIV Golf, “turned their backs on what got them to this position,” he said. Woods.

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