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R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers has insisted that LIV golfers will NOT be banned from participating in future editions of The Open.
Speaking to Golf Digest, Slumbers reiterated his position on the Saudi-funded circuit that he first outlined during the 150th edition of golf’s original major in the summer.
“If you want a guide, go back to what I said in July: We’re not banning anyone,” he said. “We are not going to betray 150 years of history and have The Open not be open. The name says it all, and that’s important.
“What we will do is ensure that there are appropriate pathways and ways to qualify. I’m looking forward to seeing [reigning champion] Cam Smith tee up around 9:40am on the first day of The Open next year.
“The Open needs to set itself aside from what’s going in terms of disagreements and make sure we stay true to our principle, which is to have the best players in the world competing.”
Slumbers added that he welcomes Saudi Arabia’s investment in the sport but said that he fears the temperature of the debate could “erode” the game’s values.
“To me, this is not about them and us,” he said. “I have no issue with the players. People play for a living. I note that Saudi Arabia wants to invest a lot of money in the game I love and care about. That’s a good thing. But I want to preserve the pathways and meritocracy on which our game is built.
“Sport without that isn’t sport. I want to make sure we have the best players competing week in and week out. If the game is not played with high value and respect, I have no chance to grow the game.
“Maybe the consequence of where we are is that we only get to see all of the very best players together four times a year. So, we’ll enjoy it four times a year.”
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