Players who signed up for the Saudi-backed LIV golf series will be allowed to compete in the 150th British Open next month, organizers the R&A announced on Wednesday. The US PGA Tour banned those involved in the rebel enterprise after the inaugural event in Britain earlier this month, but the organizers of last week’s US Open did not follow suit. That position will be followed in the final major of the year, which kicks off in St Andrews in Scotland on July 14.
“The Open is golf’s original championship and since it was first played in 1860, the Open has been fundamental to its ethos and unique appeal,” said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers. .
“Players who are exempted or who have earned a place by qualifying for the 150th Open in accordance with the entry requirements will be able to participate in the Championship at St Andrews.
“We are focused on delivering a world-class championship in July and celebrating this truly historic occasion for golf.”
Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka is the last major player to defect from the LIV Golf circuit, along with Mexican Abraham Ancer, the world number 20.
Koepka, 32, is set to make his money tour debut at his first U.S. event in Oregon next week. Koepka’s management team did not react immediately when contacted by TUSEN on Tuesday.
The American, who deleted ‘PGA Tour’ from his Twitter profile, will follow a group of stars including Dustin Johnson and six-time Major winner Phil Mickelson in joining LIV.
The series, which is funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, has thrown the golf world into turmoil since its emergence.
LIV Golf has drawn heavy criticism from human rights groups, who say the series is an attempt to boost the kingdom’s image through sport.
The PGA Tour has taken a zero-tolerance stance towards the series, with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan suspending 17 former or current Tour players for making the switch after the inaugural event began near London.
He said other golfers who signed up would suffer the same fate.
Redesign of the PGA Tour
Reports on Tuesday indicated that the PGA Tour planned to revamp its schedule with a series of lucrative new tournaments – the clearest indicator yet of a strategy to combat the rise of LIV Golf.
Monahan reportedly explained the proposed changes to the schedule during a busy players’ meeting ahead of this week’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
Plans outlined by Monahan include increasing prize money to at least $20 million at eight existing marquee tournaments and introducing three new $25 million tournaments that would feature no cups and limited fields. The calendar overhaul could be in place by the 2023 season.
LIV Golf has consistently attracted star names to sign with the upstart tour which offers $25 million in prize money for each of its 54-hole tournaments.
Other changes proposed by Monahan on Tuesday included a return to a calendar year calendar running from January to December.
The current “wraparound” season begins in the North American fall and is unpopular with some players who complain that it does not allow for a clearly defined off-season.
Speaking at the Travelers Championship on Tuesday, defending champion Harris English said he hopes the proposed PGA Tour overhaul can persuade players to stay on the tour.
Patrick Cantlay described the PGA-LIV showdown as a fight to attract and retain talent.
“If the PGA Tour is to remain the preeminent 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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