R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers made a statement that laid out The R&A’s position on LIV Golf in a press conference at the 150th Open Championship in St Andrews. Mr Slumbers said he had no issue with professionals choosing where they play and in accepting prize money that’s offered to them. But he expressed concerns about the LIV Golf model and the pathways towards it for players.
“There is no such thing as a free lunch,” he said. “I believe the model we've seen at Centurion and Pumpkin Ridge is not in the best long-term interests of the sport as a whole and is entirely driven by money. We believe it undermines the merit-based culture and the spirit of open competition that makes golf so special. I would also like to say that in my opinion the continued commentary that this is about growing the game is just not credible and if anything, is harming the perception of our sport which we are working so hard to improve.”
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The R&A Chief Exec went on to talk about the need to move the discussion away from LIV Golf.
“We believe the game needs to focus on increasing participation, achieving greater diversity, and making sure that golf is truly open to all, rather than this narrow debate involving a small number of players,” he said. “As importantly, it detracts from what makes golf, as Arnold Palmer stated, the greatest sport that mankind ever invented. Golf is far more than just professional golf, and we should all remember that.”
Mr Slumbers was clear that banning LIV golfers from future Open championships was not on the R&A’s agenda, but he did say that they would reserve the right to review and make changes to their exemptions and qualification criteria.
LIV Golf’s Chief Executive Officer Greg Norman, a two-time Open champion, was not invited to participate in The R&A Celebration of Champions event or the Champions’ Dinner. In a statement, they said that they did not want the focus taken away from the heritage of the 150th Open Championship. Slumbers elaborated on that decision:
“We are absolutely determined to ensure that this goes down in history as about The 150th Open,” he said. “We decided that there would be, based on noise that I was receiving from multiple sources, that that was going to be potentially unlikely. We decided that we didn't want the distraction.”
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Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly.
Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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