ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said there is no such thing as a free lunch in golf and that he believes LIV Golf is harming the perception of the sport.
Wednesdays 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews was set for a start by Slumbers. He offered the most direct criticism of LIV Golf that any head of a governing body has ever made.
Slumbers stated, I believe that the existing golf environment has successfully provided stable pathways to golfers to enter and develop their full potential. Professional players have the right to choose where they play and to accept any prize money that is offered to them. That is absolutely fine with me. There is no free lunch.
The Open features 24 LIV Golf players, including former major champions Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin JohnsonAnd Louis Oosthuizen. Some of them were lured by bonuses worth more than $100m and $25 million purses to each event.
More than 20 golfers were suspended by the PGA Tour for participating in the LIV events at Centurion Club outside London, and Pumpkin Ridge outside Portland. The DP World Tour also banned its players from participating at three events that are co-sanctioned jointly by the PGA Tour.
Slumbers stated, I believe that the model weve seen in Centurion and Pumpkin Ridge are not in the best long term interests of the sport as such and is entirely driven purely by money. We believe that it undermines the merit-based culture as well as the spirit of open play that makes golf so special.
I would also like you to know that the continuing commentary that this is about growth of the game is justnt credible and, if nothing, is hurting the perceptions our sport which is so hard to improve.
Slumbers stated that LIV players were allowed in The Open this season because they had met qualifying criteria or been granted exemptions. He said the R&A would reassess the qualifying standards before the 2023 Open at Royal Liverpool in England.
Slumbers stated that I never claimed the best golfers would not be able play. We will keep to the Open being open to everyone. We may look at how you can get in, whether its an exclusion or a need for qualification through our qualifying process.
Despite his harsh criticism, Slumbers insisted the R&A wasnt planning to ban LIV players from competing.
Slumbers stated, Looking ahead at The Open next year, he said. I want to be clear: This is not on our agenda. What is on our agenda is the review of our exemptions and qualification criteria for The Open. While we do this each year, we are free to make any changes we deem necessary.
Slumbers also defended the R&As decision not to invite LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, a two-time winner of The Open, to St. Andrews for the 150th celebration. Slumbers also noted that Norman hadn’t been back to St. Andrews since 2010, and hadn’t attended The Open in many, many years.
Norman called the R&As decision petty in an interview this week with Australian Golf Digest.
Slumbers stated, We are determined to ensure this goes down in History as about The 150th Open. Based on the noise I was hearing from multiple sources, we decided that there would not be.
We decided that distraction was not something we wanted. We wanted to make sure that the conversation was about this week, playing golf, and balls in the air. [on Thursday]And the champion golfer on Saturday.