2023 British Open: R&A reviewing its qualification and exemption criteria regarding LIV players
HOYLAKE, England – R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said Wednesday that the organization will continue to review its qualification and exemption criteria while not ruling out the possibility that LIV’s season-ending points list could result in future major championship berths.
Last year, the R&A head expressed disappointment at the division and disruption that LIV had caused but vowed not to ban any players who left for the rival league.
“That’s exactly what we did,” Slumbers said.
Slumbers pointed out how the organization actually expanded its options for LIV members who wouldn’t otherwise qualify through the Official World Golf Ranking. Through its Open qualifying series, the R&A offered four spots at the Hong Kong Open, which is an Asian Tour event open to any LIV player. And the number of final qualifying spots was increased from 12 to 19. Sergio Garcia was among the 21 LIV players who attempted to qualify for the year’s final major at four venues across Great Britain and Ireland.
“If you have a look at the field who made it to FQ,” Slumbers said, “they were probably the strongest final qualifying fields of global players that we’ve had.”
Overall, there are 16 LIV players in the field this week at Royal Liverpool, including past champions Phil Mickelson, Cameron Smith and Henrik Stenson.
Slumbers said that although Open exemptions to the top finishers on the season-long LIV points standings wasn’t “top of my list,” he conceded that it was an available option. Talor Gooch, who is exempt this week because of his finish in the final 2022 FedExCup standings, currently leads the LIV points list.
“We will continue to ensure that there are qualifications and exemptions available to ensure the best players in the world tee it up in this championship,” Slumbers said. “I think we’ve achieved that this year, and we’ll continue to do that.”
A year after the 150th Open was dominated by discussion about Saudi involvement in the sport, defecting players from the PGA Tour and astronomical purse increases, Slumbers said that he “welcomed” the announced partnership between the Tour and Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
“It’s not my deal. I’m not a party. I’m not at the table,” he said. “But I’m very pleased that they are sitting there and figuring it out, because long-term that’s good for the sport which we all want to either work in or enjoy.”