Martin Slumbers moved to quash speculation the governing body was discussing exemptions with the Saudi-backed breakaway tour
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers has dismissed speculation the governing body is in talks with LIV Golf over exemptions into The Open as “completely off the mark”.
Speaking at a Founding Partners press conference for the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Melbourne, Slumbers said he wanted to make it “very clear” that on “exemptions for The Open – we do not discuss them with anyone, nor would we at any point in time”.
Earlier this week it was reported that the Saudi-breakaway league was in talks with the governing body to get guaranteed places into the world’s oldest major.
Those reports claimed LIV had asked for 12 spots.
- NOW READ: LIV Golf ‘in talks’ about Open spots
But asked, along with Masters Tournament chairman Fred Ridley, whether they could entertain a scenario where there was a category for LIV Golfers to play in the Masters and The Open, Slumbers said: “We’re in the process of reviewing our exemptions and conditions of entry for The Open Championship for next year – as we always do.
“We will publish those in early 2024. 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 and nor would we at any point in time.
“It’s very important 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.”
LIV Golf Open debate: ‘There are plenty of opportunities…to qualify’
Ridley added that, at this time, the Masters did not “anticipate making any changes” next year.
“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.
“I would just answer by saying our qualifications are very much dynamic and we adjust to what we feel is in the best interest of the tournament and representing the best players in the world. We will always look at that.”
Asked if it would be unfortunate whether LIV golfers, such as Talor Gooch, slipped out of being able to play in the tournament, Ridley continued: “They made decisions based on what they thought was in the best interest of their golf careers and we certainly respect that.
“We do have, and our invitation criteria does say, that we reserve the right to issue special exemptions to international players – although we did issue a special exemption to an amateur, the NCAA champion, last year.
“We’re always looking at that but these decisions have been made and we’ll have to do what’s in the best interest of the Masters and we’ll continue to do that.”
Slumbers continued: “Without getting into detail, we make sure there are plenty of opportunities for any player in the world, who thinks they’re good enough, to have a chance to qualify and play in the Open Championship – irrespective of which tour they are participating on – and that will not change.”
Now have your say
What do you think of this LIV Golf Open debate? Should LIV Golf players have an exempted route into The Open and the Masters? Or should they accept the consequences of moving to a tour not deemed eligible by the Official World Golf Rankings? Let me know via X.
Could the golf ball be rolled back for everyone?