LIV Golf participants got some good news late last month when R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers announced that there were no plans to ban LIV Golf members from The Open Championship in the future.
World rankings points and major championship eligibility have been at the center of the controversy surrounding the breakaway series over the past several months.
“We’re not banning anyone,” Slumbers said. “We are not going to betray 150 years of history and have the Open not be open.”
LIV Golfers will not be banned from next summers Open according to R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers ⛳️❌pic.twitter.com/dcpSsPYT73
— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) October 31, 2022
It would seem Slumbers’ decision is very much supported by the reigning Open champion. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Cameron Smith said he wanted to see the majors rise above the current divide between LIV Golf and the PGA TOUR.
“I think the majors really have to stand above all the politics,” Smith said. “If they really want the best product and the best players playing against each other in the world, they have to let us play.”
Smith, who joined the LIV series in a reported $100 million deal, has the luxury of exemptions into the majors for the next five years, courtesy of his victory at the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews back in July. Major championship eligibility for other LIV golfers varies and could depend upon tweaks to eligibility requirements for each event.
Slumbers has said the R&A will go public in early 2023 with their new eligibility criteria.
Augusta National has remained mostly silent on the subject, but reports indicate that past champions – of which LIV has six – are unlikely to be banned. The USGA could also tweak its eligibility criteria for the U.S. Open.
The PGA Championship could still be up in the air. In May of this year, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said that the PGA of America’s bylaws state “you have to be a recognized member of a recognized tour in order to be a PGA member somewhere, and therefore eligible to play.”
LIV golfers have claimed 12 of the last 26 majors, and Smith believes the majors could be significantly weakened if they were not allowed in the field.
“There’s no reason other than playing another tour that should suggest we shouldn’t play,” he said. We’re definitely good enough players. We should have those spots.”
Smith’s interview took place as he returned home to his native Australia for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic. He will be teeing it up in the Australian PGA Championship and the Australian Open over the course of the next month.
It also took place within days of LIV announcing that it will be hosting an event in Australia next year. It had previously been reported that there would be three LIV events hosted in Australia in 2023, but only one has been formally announced.
💪 Get ready for #LIVGolf 2023!
🇦🇺 We’re excited to announce we are heading to Adelaide, Australia on April 21-23rd.
🙌 Help us spread the word and grab Early Birdie tickets before prices go up soon! pic.twitter.com/BUU9By0Cdv
— LIV Golf (@LIVGolfInv) November 13, 2022
The event will take place at the Grange Golf Club in Adelaide from April 21-23. The Grange is also the site of LIV CEO Greg Norman’s first professional win back in 1976.