LONDON (AFP) – Players who have signed up to the breakaway Saudi-backed LIV Golf series will be allowed to compete in next month’s 150th British Open, organisers the R&A announced yesterday.
The United States (US) PGA Tour has banned those involved in the rebel venture after the inaugural event in Britain earlier this month but organisers of last week’s US Open did not follow suit.
That stance will be followed at the year’s final major, which starts at St Andrews in Scotland on July 14.
“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 R&A 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 focussed on staging a world-class championship in July and celebrating this truly historic occasion for golf.”
Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka is the latest big-name player to defect to the LIV Golf circuit, along with Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, the world number 20.
Koepka, 32, is expected to make his debut on the money-spinning circuit at its maiden US event in Oregon next week. Koepka’s management team did not immediately respond when contacted by AFP on Tuesday.
The American, who has removed “PGA Tour” from his Twitter profile, will follow a clutch of stars including Dustin Johnson and six-time major-winner Phil Mickelson by joining LIV.
The PGA Tour has adopted 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 start of the inaugural event near London.
He made it clear that other golfers who signed up would suffer a similar fate.
Reports on Tuesday said the PGA Tour was planning 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 is understood to have explained proposed changes to the schedule at a packed meeting of players ahead of this week’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
Plans outlined by Monahan include boosting purses to at least USD20 million in eight existing marquee tournaments and the introduction of three new USD25 million tournaments that would feature no cuts and limited fields.
The schedule overhaul could be in place by the 2023 season.
LIV Golf has steadily been luring star names to sign with the upstart circuit that offers USD25 million in prize money for each of its 54-hole tournaments.