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R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers says reports about LIV Golf being in talks to secure automatic places at The Open are “completely wide of the mark.”

The Saudi-backed breakaway league has had its bid for Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status denied, making it increasingly difficult for LIV players to qualify for major championships.

All four majors use the OWGR system to set the bulk of their fields and LIV players are plummeting down the rankings without access to points.

That has led to talk about alternate exemption criteria for the LIV series, with Louis Oosthuizen telling last month that his tour should get get major spots via an order of merit.

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And earlier this week, it was reported that LIV was in discussions with the R&A to get guaranteed spots at golf’s oldest major.

But when asked whether the governing body would consider a special exemption category for LIV golfers, Slumbers moved to shut down the speculation.

“We will publish those [qualification criteria] in early 2024,” Slumbers said at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Melbourne.

“I’ve stated a number of times, our conditions are designed in a way to create pathways for the very best players in the world to compete at The Open Championship – next year at Royal Troon.

“I would say, though, that there has been some speculation in the media recently on the topic you’re raising and I would say it is completely off the mark.

“I would like to make it very clear that exemptions for The Open – we do not discuss them with anyone, nor would we at any point in time.

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“It’s very important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that The Open is intended to be open to everybody, but you earn your place in the field through exemptions and that won’t change.”

Meanwhile, Fred Ridley, the chairman at Augusta National Golf Club, also stated there were no current plans to adjust the invitation criteria to include the LIV golfers who have tumbled down the world rankings at The Masters.

“If you look back over the history of the Masters Tournament, and the qualifications that have existed, we have changed those qualifications numerous times – dozens of times,” he said.

“We look at those every year – we don’t make changes every year, but we do look at them under the current circumstances.

“As you’ll recall last year, there was some speculation as to whether or not we would invite LIV golfers and we stay true to our qualification criteria and we invited everyone who was eligible.

“And so while we do not, at this time, anticipate making any changes in 2024 we do always look at them and will continue to do that.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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