Golf rebels allowed to play at St Andrews Open
Players who have signed up to golf’s Saudi league will be allowed to take part in next month’s Open at St Andrews, the R&A has announced.
The PGA Tour has issued bans to all those involved in the Saudi-backed venture after playing in the inaugural event earlier this month, but organisers of last week’s US Open did not follow suit and the 150th Open Championship will also welcome the rebels.
Chief executive Martin Slumbers said: “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.
“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.”
The PGA Tour is planning to introduce an enhanced schedule next year, including prize fund increases for eight events. The prestigious Players’ Championship will have its prize money increased to $25 million from $20 million.
Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said at a press conference: “I am not naive. If this is an arms race, and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can’t compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars trying to buy the game of golf.
The total prize fund across the initial eight LIV events is £200 million, with Charl Schwartzel winning £3.86 million when he triumphed at the inaugural 54-hole competition at Centurion Club in Hertfordshire — more than the prize for any other tournament.
Collin Morikawa, the defending Open champion, said on Twitter that he would not be leaving the PGA Tour. “To state for the record, once again, you are all absolutely wrong. I’ve said it since February at Riviera that I’m here to stay on the PGA Tour and nothing has changed.”
Rory McIlroy has called players who join LIV Golf “pretty duplicitous” as Brooks Koepka became the latest to move to the new Saudi Arabian-backed series.
Four-time major champion Koepka joins compatriots Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau in the new $250m (£200m) eight-event series.
McIlroy, a staunch advocate of the PGA Tour, said he did not expect the former world number one to defect to LIV Golf.
“Am I surprised? Yes, because of what he said previously,” he said. “I think that’s why I’m surprised at a lot of these guys, because they say one thing and then they do another and I don’t understand.
“I don’t know if that’s for legal reasons – I have no idea – but it’s pretty duplicitous on their part to say one thing and then do another thing. In public and in private.”