Players on the LIV Golf International Series will be able to compete at the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews next month, the R&A announced Wednesday.
As we all know, golfers who have participated in and signed a contract with LIV Golf are banned from the PGA Tour. However, the PGA Tour does not have the right to interfere in major tournaments.
The R&A’s decision follows the USGA allowing players who have joined the LIV Golf Series, which is financially backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, to play this past weekend’s U.S. Open. England’s Matt Fitzpatrick won the major at The Country Club.
“The Open is golf’s original championship and since it was first played in 1860, openness has been fundamental to its ethos and unique appeal,” R&A CEO Martin Slumbers said in a statement. “Players who are exempt or have earned a place through qualifying for The 150th Open in accordance with the entry terms and conditions will be able to compete in the championship at St Andrews.”
“We are focused on staging a world class championship in July and celebrating this truly historic occasion for golf. We will invest the proceeds of The Open, as we always do, for the benefit of golf which reflects our purpose to ensure that the sport is thriving 50 years from now,” said Martin Slumbers
The Open runs from July 14 to 17 at the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland. The ability of LIV golfers to compete in the tournament clashes with the stance of the PGA Tour, which suspended all LIV participants from its tournaments soon after the new circuit’s first tournament teed off on June 9.
The LIV Golf series is controversial for a number of reasons, including that it’s backed by Saudi financing and will play two of its eight tournaments this year at Donald Trump-owned courses, but its massive payouts have still attracted a handful of past major winners. So far, eight golfers ranked in the top 50 in the world have left or plan to leave the PGA Tour for LIV.
Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka became the latest player to make the switch to LIV Golf, a move announced Wednesday, as he joined others such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. DeChambeau, Reed and Koepka will all reportedly make their LIV debuts at the series’ second event on June 30 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore.
Two previous winners of The Open — Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen — play in the LIV series.
Defending Open champion Collin Morikawa, who reaffirmed his standing in the PGA Tour and has no intention of joining LIV Golf, will be fighting to reclaim his title against a bigger field.