BREAKING NEWS: Golf’s Saudi tour rebels WON’T be blocked from playing at The Open next month, as organisers confirm ‘openness is fundamental’ with Brooks Koepka the latest player to quit the PGA Tour for a cash grab
- Organisers of the 150th Open confirmed Saudi rebels will be allowed to compete
- The members of the breakaway LIV Golf Series also competed at the US Open
- The PGA Tour has issued bans to all those involved in the Saudi-backed series
- Brooks Koepka became the latest big name to quit the PGA Tour on Tuesday
Golf’s Saudi rebels will still be allowed to take their place in next month’s Open, the R&A has announced.
While the PGA Tour has issued bans to all those involved in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series after they played in the inaugural event earlier this month, organisers of last week’s US Open did not follow suit.
That stance will be followed at the year’s final major, when the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews gets underway in three weeks’ time.
‘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,’ said chief executive Martin Slumbers.
‘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.
Golf’s Saudi rebels (pictured left Brooks Koepka and right Phil Mickelson) will still be allowed to take their place in next month’s Open Championship at St Andrews
Koepka was the latest big name to quit the PGA Tour to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series
‘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.’
Exempt players are those who are eligible through their previously earned status, such as world rankings and tournament victories.
As the PGA Tour does not run the majors its suspension of the 17 players who participated in the inaugural LIV Series event earlier this month does not extend to golf’s biggest tournaments.
Chief executive Martin Slumbers confirmed the breakaway players will be allowed to compete
The players were also allowed to compete in the US Open at the Country Club at Brookline last week, which was won by Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick.
However, Mike Whan, CEO of the United States Golf Association which runs the major, had warned the Saudi-backed LIV rebels competing that he could foresee a day – presumably through their inability to gain world ranking points – where it would be harder for them to qualify to play in this major.
‘We only decided a week ago that they could play in this one,’ he added.
The LIV Golf Series, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), has divided the sport in recent months.
Mike Whan, CEO of the United States Golf Association, warned the 15 Saudi-backed LIV rebels competing at the US Open that there may be a day when they can no longer play majors
The seemingly limitless resources financing the series have lured away some of the biggest stars of the game, including the likes of former World No 1 Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and the latest breakaway Brooks Kopeka.
In an attempt to deter anymore players defecting the PGA Tour retaliated with the suspension – a move which was branded ‘vindictive’ by Greg Norman, the face of the Saudi tour.
The Open’s defending champion Collin Morikawa recently took to social media to reiterate his opposing stance on the breakaway league.
Reports emerged claiming the two-time Major champion was the next in line to switch sides but in an amusing statement on Twitter, the 25-year-old dismissed the rumours.
The seemingly limitless resources financing the series have lured away some of the biggest stars of the game, including the likes of former World No 1 Dustin Johnson (left) and Mickelson
Collin Morikawa dismissed reports that he is the next big name in golf to join the LIV Golf Tour
‘Just your #11 money winner on PIP here to say good morning to everyone! Last week at my press conference, I said the media loves creating drama,’ said World No 4 Morikawa.
‘Sure enough, I woke up this morning to everyone thinking I’m next. Not to say I told you so but…I told you so.
‘To state for the record, once again, you all are absolutely wrong. I’ve said it since February at Riviera that I’m here to stay on the PGA Tour and nothing has changed. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some cereal to pour in my milk.’
The US Open increased its prize fund this year in response to the recent LIV defection and the R&A could follow suit.
Winner of the opening LIV event at the Centurion Club, St Albans, Charl Schwartzel took home $4.75million (£3.9m) in prize money.
Last year’s Open Championship offered a total prize purse of £9.4m, an increase from the previous year but still the lowest reward of any major.
Charl Schwartzel won the first event of the LIV Golf series held at Centurion Club
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