Top officials say Masters, British Open are not planning LIV exemptions

Top officials from the Masters and British Open have announced that they currently have no plans to modify the entrance criteria for their tournaments. This decision comes after the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) board recently decided against granting LIV Golf event participants crucial points eligibility. Some members of the LIV Golf circuit have proposed that the majors create exemption categories for LIV players.

Currently, players earn their qualification for the four Grand Slam events by rising through the world rankings. Exemptions for past major winners, including some LIV players, offer an alternative pathway, but this group is expected to diminish over time.

When asked about the possibility of creating a new category for LIV players at a joint press conference in Australia, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, and Martin Slumbers, CEO of the R&A, did not rule out the idea but stated that no changes are anticipated before next year’s Masters.

The OWGR denied LIV’s application for points eligibility due to the team format of the circuit and its lack of turnover, as well as the guarantee of inclusion for its top players. LIV, backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, attracted attention last year by signing contracts with some of golf’s biggest names for significant sums of money.

With the possibility of participation in prestigious major tournaments slipping away, several LIV players, such as Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Bubba Watson, have called for exemptions to be given to the top players on the breakaway tour each year. Despite Talor Gooch, LIV’s top-ranked player, receiving an $18 million bonus for winning three tournaments this year, the 31-year-old has dropped to 214th in the world and will not be eligible for any majors next year.

Mickelson stated that the majors need to protect their product and suggested creating slots for LIV players as one possible solution, apart from OWGR points. DeChambeau and Watson also proposed that the top 10 or 12 players on LIV’s money or points list should receive exemptions to majors.

Ridley and Slumbers suggested that LIV players should make the best of their current circumstances. Ridley said that while the Masters does reserve the right to issue special exemptions to international players, no changes are planned. Slumbers emphasized that the Open Championship is open to all players, regardless of the tour they are participating in.

Contrary to a Telegraph report, Slumbers denied that discussions with the R&A were taking place to circumvent the OWGR issue. He emphasized that exemptions for the British Open are not discussed with anyone and that the tournament is intended to be open to all players who earn their place in the field through exemptions and qualifications.

LIV golfers can attempt to gain entry to the British Open through qualifying events or by accumulating OWGR points in lower-tier tours globally. The PGA Tour and DP World Tour have indefinitely suspended players who have joined LIV.

Joaquin Niemann, currently ranked 69th in the OWGR, expressed frustration over his inability to qualify for majors, saying that he will have to play on different tours to earn world ranking points. Ridley offered hope to LIV players by stating that the Masters has changed its qualification criteria numerous times throughout history, and although no changes are expected for 2024, they will continue to evaluate exemption criteria.


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