What Would It Mean For Golf If A LIV Player Won The 150th Open Championship?

Players like Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau will be in with a chance at St Andrews, what will it mean if one of them comes out on top?

LIV golf
DJ and Bryson will be among those with a chance this week
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Over the past few months, the golfing news has been dominated by the emergence, support for and opposition to LIV Golf. The Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational series has attracted a number of high-profile players who have faced sanctions from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour as a result.

The R&A followed the example of the USGA, who allowed LIV players to compete at Brookline for the US Open, releasing a statement before The 150th Open Championship in which Chief Executive Martin Slumbers stated, "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.” Basically, LIV players are able to tee it up.

Video - What is LIV Golf

But, reading between the lines, it would seem The R&A aren’t overly impressed with the breakaway series. 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.

Norman may not be here, but a number of LIV Golf players are and there are big names amongst them who might well contend come Sunday afternoon. What would it mean for golf if a LIV player won The Open Championship?

Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau – All are LIV players who will fancy their chances around a baked Old Course. How would it be received by the knowledgeable Scottish fans if one of them were to take the title at this historic venue in this historic instalment of the event?

Safe to say a percentage of the crowd will be hoping it doesn’t happen. Many spectators will view the rebels as mercenary for following the money rather than sticking with the establishment. Others will be less critical, taking the stance that as professionals, it’s understandable that they will follow the biggest coin, wherever it’s available.

If a LIV player were to loft the Claret Jug this week, it would undoubtedly raise the profile of the renegade circuit considerably. A LIV golf Major winner at The Home of Golf would make it very much more difficult for the game’s governing bodies to do anything but accept the new order. The R&A would be in a tough position if they decided in future to take a stand against the rebel circuit if their defending champion was a LIV Golf player!

It’s the status quo that’s under threat – the make-up of the men’s professional season. The more players who switch allegiances, the more the main tours and The Majors will have to make concessions and allowances to maintain their position. The Open and the other Majors want, and need, to feature the biggest names in the sport to remain at the pinnacle of competition. In order to do that, they will likely, have to accommodate LIV players going forward. A LIV winner of this Open would serve to expedite that process.

What then would it mean if a LIV player were to win the 150th Open? It would cause a few sharp intakes of breath from those in power, who would then have to think faster than they had possibly intended. Ultimately, it looks like LIV is here to stay though and for The Open and the other Majors to retain their status, they’ll have to find a mutually agreeable way to accommodate it.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

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?