Street. Andrews, Scotland – R&A CEO Martin Slippers has said there is “no such thing as a free lunch” in golf, and that he believes LIV Golf is “harming the concept of the sport”.
Slumbers, speaking on Wednesday before the 150th Open Championships kicked off at Old Course in St Andrews, provided the harshest criticism of LIV Golf yet from the head of the governing body.
“I firmly believe that the current golf ecosystem has successfully provided stable pathways for golfers to enter the sport, develop and achieve their full potential,” said Slippers. “Pro golfers get to choose where they want to play and accept the prize money offered to them. I have absolutely no problem with that. But there is no such thing as a free lunch.”
There are 24 LIV Golf players competing in The Open, including former top champions Phil MickelsonAnd the Brooks KoepkaAnd the Bryson DeShampooAnd the Dustin Johnson And the Louis Oosthuizen. Some have been lured into the new separatist circle, funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, by signing bonuses of more than $100 million and $25 million for each event.
The PGA Tour suspended over 20 golfers who competed in the first two LIV events at the Centurion Club outside London and Pumpkin Ridge outside Portland, Oregon. The DP World Tour also fined and suspended its players from participating in three of its PGA Tour jointly endorsed events.
“I think the model we saw at Centurion and Pumpkin Ridge is not in the best long-term interests of the sport as a whole, and it’s entirely driven by money,” Slippers said. “We believe it undermines the merit-based culture and spirit of open competition that makes golf so special.
“I would also like to say that in my opinion, the constant comment that it is about game development is not credible and, if anything, is detrimental to the concept of our sport that we are working hard to improve.”
Slippers said LIV players were allowed to compete in The Open this year because they had already met the eligibility criteria or were granted exemptions. He said the R&A club would reevaluate the qualification criteria ahead of the 2023 Open at Royal Liverpool in England.
“I didn’t say the best golfers wouldn’t be able to play,” said Slippers. “We’re going to be completely honest with the Open being open to anyone. But we might very well look at how to go into that, whether that’s an exemption or need to qualify through our qualification process.”
Despite his harsh criticism, Slumbers insisted that R&A was not planning to ban LIV players from competing.
“Looking at the World Open next year, we’ve been asked a lot about banning players,” said Slippers. “Let me be very clear: This is not on our agenda. But what is on our agenda is that we will review our criteria for exemptions and qualifications for The Open. And while we do this every year, we fully reserve the right to make changes to the Open Championships Committee as it sees fit.” .
Slumbers also defended R&A’s decision not to invite LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, two-time winner of The Open, to St. Andrews for the 150th celebration. Slumbers noted that Norman has not been to St. Andrews since 2010 and has not attended The Open many years ago.
Norman described the R&A decision as “frivolous” in an interview this week with Australian Golf Digest.
“We are absolutely determined to make sure that history goes down as the 150th Open,” said Slippers. “We’ve determined that there will be, based on the noise I’ve received from multiple sources, that’s probably not going to be possible.
“We decided we didn’t want a distraction. We wanted to make sure the conversation revolved around this week and playing golf and balls in the air. [on Thursday] And the champion golfer on Sunday.”
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