R&A disinvites Greg Norman from Open Champions dinner at St. Andrews in latest volley in LIV war
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Next week, the golf world will celebrate the 150th playing of the Open Championship at “the home of golf,” the Old Course at St. Andrews. It will be a week to remember, and everyone who’s anyone in the golf world will be present to fete the R&A and the oldest tournament in golf, with one big exception: LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.
Every golf fan knows about the Masters Champions dinner, where past winners enjoy a private meal at Augusta National chosen by the defending champion prior to the start of the tournament.
What you may not know is that the R&A runs a similar celebration each year at the Open Championship. Next week’s Open Champions dinner should prove to be an extra special one, and, as usual, all living past champions are invited to attend. All except Norman, that is.
On Saturday, the R&A announced that it “decided not to invite” Norman, a two-time Open champion, to the Champions dinner, and it will also bar him from playing in the Celebration of Champions event on Monday at the Old Course, where Tiger Woods, Lee Trevino, Collin Morikawa and many other players will kick off the festivities with an exhibition.
The R&A’s statement explained that next week’s Open is an “extremely important milestone for golf” and they want “to ensure that the focus remains on celebrating the Championship,” adding that they “do not believe that would be the case if Greg were to attend.” Earlier, this year, the R&A rejected Norman’s request for a special exemption to actually play in the Open (while past champions are guaranteed a spot in the Open through the age 60, Norman is 67).
You can read the R&A’s statement barring Norman from the Open in full below.
In response to enquiries regarding The R&A Celebration of Champions field and the Champions’ Dinner, we can confirm that we contacted Greg Norman to advise him that we decided not to invite him to attend on this occasion. The 150th Open is an extremely important milestone for golf and we want to ensure that the focus remains on celebrating the Championship and its heritage. Unfortunately, we do not believe that would be the case if Greg were to attend. We hope that when circumstances allow Greg will be able to attend again in future.
The move serves as the latest volley in the war between the upstart Saudi-backed LIV Golf and the traditional stewards of the game. The PGA Tour and DP World Tour recently suspended LIV participants from playing on their respective tours. The major championships, however, have so far allowed those LIV pros who have qualified for this year’s majors to play in them, including at the St. Andrews Open next week.
Norman’s presence at the Old Course certainly would have created a sideshow that distracted from the event. But disinviting the winner of the 1986 and 1993 Opens serves as the biggest step the R&A or USGA — golf’s governing bodies — have taken against LIV Golf.