LIV Golf rebels allowed to play in British Open

Players who have signed up for the breakaway Saudi-backed LIV golf series will be allowed to compete in next month’s 150th British Open, organizers R&A announced on Wednesday. The US PGA Tour has banned those involved in the rebel venture following the opening event in Britain earlier this month, but organizers of last week’s US Open did not follow through. That stance will be followed in the final Major of the year, which begins on 14 July in St Andrews, Scotland.

“Open is the core championship of golf and since it was first played in 1860, openness has been fundamental to its ethos and unparalleled appeal,” said R&A chief executive Martin Slummers.

“Players who are exempt or who have earned a place by qualifying for the 150th Open in accordance with the terms and conditions of entry will be able to compete in the Championship at St Andrews.

“We are focused on hosting a world-class championship in July and celebrating this historic occasion for golf.”

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka is the latest big-name player to join the LIV golf circuit, along with Mexico’s Abraham Ensor, world number 20.

Koepka, 32, is expected to make her debut on the money-spinning circuit next week at her first US event in Oregon. When contacted by AFP on Tuesday, Koepka’s management team did not immediately respond.

The American, who has removed “PGA Tour” from his Twitter profile, will follow a slew of stars including Dustin Johnson and six-time major-winner Phil Mickelson by joining LIV.

The series, which is controlled by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, has thrown the golfing world into turmoil since its emergence.

LIV Golf has drawn strong criticism from human rights groups, who say the series is an attempt to promote the state’s image through the game.

The PGA Tour has taken a zero-tolerance approach to the series, with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan suspending 17 former or current Tour players for switching after the start of the inaugural event near London.

He clarified that other golfers who sign up will have a similar fate.

PGA Tour Reforms

Tuesday’s report said the PGA Tour was planning to revamp its schedule with a series of lucrative new tournaments — the most obvious indicator of a strategy to counter the rise of LIV golf.

Monahan is understood to have explained the proposed changes to the program at a packed player meeting ahead of this week’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

Plans outlined by Monahan include increasing the purse to at least $20 million in eight existing marquee tournaments and the introduction of three new $25 million tournaments with no cuts and limited fields. The schedule overhaul could take place by the 2023 season.

LIV Golf is consistently tempting to sign star names with the upstart circuit that offers $25 million in prize money for each of its 54-hole tournaments.

Other changes Monahan proposed on Tuesday include a return to the calendar year’s schedule running from January to December.

The current “wraparound” season begins in the North American autumn and is unpopular with some players complaining that it does not allow for a clearly defined off-season.

Speaking at the Travelers Championship on Tuesday, defending champion Harris English said he hoped the PGA Tour’s proposed reform could persuade players to stay with the circuit.

publicized

Patrick Cantley described the PGA-LIV clash as a battle to attract and retain talent.

“If the PGA Tour is to remain the premier tour for professional golfers, it has to be the best place for the best players in the world to play,” he said.

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