R&A announced on Wednesday that players who have signed up to leave the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series will be allowed to compete in the 150th British Open next month. The USPGA Tour has banned those involved in the rebel plot since its opening ceremony in the UK earlier this month, but last week US Open organizers did not follow suit. This position will be followed in the last major of the year, starting July 14 in St. Andrews, Scotland.
Martin Slumbers, R&A’s chief executive, said: “Open is the original championship of golf and since it was first played in 1860, openness has been fundamental to its ethics and unique appeal.”
“Athletes who are exempt or who have qualified for the 150th Open according to the entry conditions will be able to participate in the championship in St. Andrews.
“We are focused on holding the World Championships in July and celebrating this historic occasion of golf.”
Four-time champion Brooks Kopka, Mexico’s Abraham Anser, with the world number 20, is the latest big name player to break the LIV golf circuit.
Kopka, 32, is expected to make his debut on the mini-spinning circuit at his first U.S. event in Oregon next week. When contacted by AFP on Tuesday, Kopka’s management team did not immediately respond.
The American, who has removed the “PGA Tour” from his Twitter profile, will join LIV and follow the clutch of stars, including Dustin Johnson and six-time big winner Phil McClelson.
The series, which has been bankrolled by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, has caused a stir in the golf world since its inception.
LIV Golf has been sharply criticized by human rights groups, who say the series is an attempt to promote the country’s image through sport.
The PGA Tour has taken a zero-tolerance stance on the series, with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan suspending 17 former or current Tour players from switching after the opening ceremony near London.
He explained that other golfers who signed up would suffer the same fate.
PGA Tour Optimization
Reports on Tuesday said that PGA Tour is planning to improve its schedule with a series of lucrative new tournaments – the clearest indication of its strategy to counter the rise of LIV Golf.
Munhan is understood to have explained the proposed changes to the schedule at a packed meeting of players ahead of this week’s Connecticut Travelers Championships.
Monahan’s plans include raising purses to a minimum of $ 20 million in eight existing marquee tournaments and introducing three new tournaments of $ 25 million with no deductions and no limited fields. The schedule may change until the 2023 season.
LIV Golf is permanently signing the names of the stars with the Upstart Circuit, offering a prize money of $ 25 million for each of its 54 hole tournaments.
Other changes proposed by Monahan on Tuesday included a return to the January-December calendar year schedule.
The current “rebound” season begins in the fall of North America and is unpopular with some players who complain that it does not allow a clearly defined off-season.
Speaking at the Travelers Championships on Tuesday, defending champion Harris English said he hoped the PGA Tour’s proposed reform could persuade players to stay on the circuit.
Patrick Cantley described the PGA-LIV clash as a battle to attract and retain talent.
“If the PGA Tour is to be a prominent tour for professional golfers, it must be the best place to play for the best players in the world,” he said.
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