The uneasy relationship that exists between golf’s traditional power bases and the newly formed LIV Golf Series reared its head ahead of the 150th Open Championship with a statement from the R&A confirming that it had not invited LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman to attend the Celebration of Champions or attend the Champions’ Dinner in order to avoid ‘an unwelcome distraction’ on the eve of the season’s final major.
The Celebration of Champions, which is taking place on Monday, will see former Open champions, both men and women, take part in a four-hole competition, with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Annika Sorenstam, Georgia Hall, Lee Trevino and Collin Morikawa among those taking part.
Norman, who won the Open in 1986 and 1993, called the decision not to invite him “petty”.
“I would have thought the R&A would have stayed above it all given their position in world golf,” Norman said. “It’s petty, as all I have done is promote and grow the game of golf globally, on and off the golf course, for more than four decades.”
In a statement, the R&A said: “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 R&A said last month that LIV Golf players who had qualified for the 150th Open Championship would be allowed to compete at St Andrews, although whether that decision will apply to 2023 and beyond remains unclear.