Are LIV golfers getting unfair treatment at the 2022 British Open?
The R&A have made clear that they will have no truck with the LIV golf tournaments, and some of the players are feeling the sharp end of that
With the PGA closing ranks to freeze out LIV golfers, the Open Tournament is squirming around, trying to give lip service to the freedom that professional golfers have to earn a crust wherever they choose, while at the same time, ensuring that the door to future tournaments remains firmly closed.
Follow the final day of the 150th Open Championship live from St Andrews
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is something akin to the Vatican of golf, so when the chief executive threatens to bar LIV golfers from entry to the 2023 Open, then you have a serious fatwa on your hands.
Martin Slumbers held a press conference ahead of the Open, saying, “Professional golfers are entitled to choose where they want to play and to accept the prize money that’s offered to them. I have absolutely no problem with that at all.” So far, he seems to be playing nicey-nicey. But then he follows that up with a jab. “There is no such thing as a free lunch. I believe the model we have seen at Centurion and at Pumpkin Ridge is not in the best long-term interest of the sport as a whole and is entirely driven by money. We believe it undermines the merit-based nature and the spirit of open competition that makes golf so special.”
Following almost word-for word the USGA position that professional golfers earning money was somehow “not good for the game” can only be interpreted in one way. The golfing racket has been threatened by players who refuse to pay the vig.
The R&A has been gruff to the point of bullying with the players who have either played an LIV event or that committed to do so, and has barred Greg Norman, a golfing legend by any definition of the word, from attending this year’s Open Championship. How petty.
The unfair treatment that these professionals are receiving is nothing short of racketeering. It is a story as old as time itself. In any other business, they would find themselves hauled in front of a magistrate for their actions.
Golf, they say, is our party, and you are not invited. But with the reaction to the LIV being so fierce, and so coordinated, it belies what is lurking beneath. Fear. They are on the wrong side of this argument and they know it. The players are not chattel, to be dictated when and where they can play. They are professionals, free to hire their services out wherever they choose.
Most of this antagonism, it must be stated, is at the administrative level. LIV players are reporting that all of their colleagues are treating them with respect and camaraderie on the course, and even the most vocal critics such as Rory McIlroy, have begun to soften their tone.
This disagreement over the future of the game is only heating up, and will get even hotter over the next few years. But if the R&A have anything to say about it, the Open may just become closed.