While the Open Championship at the Old Course rapidly approaches, one familiar face in the sport won’t be visible around the clubhouse. For the first time, the weekend hosts golfers from both the PGA Tour and defectors from the LIV Golf series. However, for LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman, his presence serves as a potential distraction.
This year’s Open Championship at St Andrews holds a bit more meaning for the golf world. As The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews prepares for the 150th edition of the tournament, the celebration of the sport lasts throughout the week.
The club hosts a private Champions Dinner and a four-hole miniature competition between former tournament victors. Norman – who won The Open in 1986 and 1993 – won’t find himself included in these events. Instead the R&A confirms it contacted the Great White Shark to discuss the decision to not invite the former No. 1 golfer in the world.
In a statement, the club says, “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.”
Norman – who did not respond to ESPN’s request for comment – applied for an exemption to play in the tournament back in May. However, that request was denied.
But the 67-year-old’s absence isn’t preventing the participation of other LIV Golf members in the weekend’s event. The tournament’s field boasts big LIV names like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson.
Is Greg Norman’s Absence Enough To Prevent Distraction?
Probably not. PGA Tour members took to the offensive in the last week, voicing displeasure about sharing the course next weekend. After a recent podcast appearance from DeChambeau revealed the power-golfer signed with the Saudi-backed league for more than $125 million, PGA members took aim at the morals and motives of defectors.
Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy acknowledges the money from LIV is tempting and breathtaking. However, he doesn’t want to see golfers playing hop-scotch if the league eventually falters. LIV Golf might have a seemingly endless pool of finances, but in its beginners-state, it’s arguably still experimental.
In an interview with BBC, McIlroy says, “I think this whole having your cake and eating it-type thing is where the resentment’s from within the membership.”
Preventing distractions by disinviting Greg Norman might seem like R&A’s No. 1 goal. However, next weekend’s Open Championship is certain to provide plenty of fireworks.