ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — The British Open’s organizer pointedly warned on Wednesday that it might change its entry rules for future tournaments — potentially complicating the claret jug prospects of players who defected to the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf series.Although the R&A, which runs the Open, has not made a decision about how players will be able to join the 156-man field in 2023 and beyond, the organization’s chief executive, Martin Slumbers, left open the possibility that the pathway to one of golf’s most hallowed tournaments could soon shift.“We will review our exemptions and qualifications criteria for the Open,” Slumbers said at a news conference at St. Andrews on the eve of the Open’s start on the Old Course. “We absolutely reserve the right to make changes” from past years, he added.“Players have to earn their place in the Open, and that is fundamental to its ethos and its unique global appeal,” said Slumbers, who did little to disguise his disdain for the LIV series, which he condemned as “entirely driven by money” and threatening to “the merit-based culture and the spirit of open competition that makes golf so special.”Still, he signaled that a wholesale ban of players was “not on our agenda.”Slumbers denied that the R&A was coordinating with the organizers of golf’s other major tournaments to potentially exclude LIV players, whose ranks include Brooks Koepka, Sergio García, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed. But the chief executive of the United States Golf Association, which controls the U.S. Open, said in June that the group would “re-evaluate” the criteria it uses to set that tournament’s field.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 5A new series. The launch of new Saudi-financed LIV Golf series has resurfaced longstanding questions about athletes’ moral obligations and their desire to compete and earn money. Here’s what to know:What is LIV Golf? The series is an upstart professional golf circuit bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Its organizers hope to position it as a player-power-focused alternative to the PGA Tour, which has been the highest level of pro golf for nearly a century.Who is playing it? The 48 players in the initial LIV Golf event were not exactly a who’s who of golf, and many of the biggest names in the sport, such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, have stayed away. But there were big names and former major champions, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio García.What is attracting the players? The LIV Golf events are the richest tournaments in golf history. The first tournament’s total purse was $25 million, and the winner’s share was $4 million. The last-place finisher at each event was guaranteed $120,000. That is on top of the appearance fees and nine-figure signing-on payouts some players have accepted.The P.G.A. of America, which is in charge of the P.G.A. Championship, has also signaled its contempt for the LIV series, which has offered millions of dollars in guaranteed money to players to join 54-hole, no-cut tournaments with shotgun starts. Augusta National Golf Club, which organizes the invitation-only Masters Tournament, has so far remained silent about its intentions.The R&A publishes a lengthy roster of ways for players to qualify for the Open, which will be held next year at Royal Liverpool. This year, for example, the options included a place in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking on a certain date.The group that oversees the Official World Golf Ranking system said Tuesday that LIV Golf, which draws much of its financing from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, had asked this month for “inclusion” and that it was beginning to review the application.British Open organizers have tried mightily this week to direct attention toward the 150th tournament. But the turmoil surrounding LIV has repeatedly intruded. Over the weekend, the R&A acknowledged that it had not invited Greg Norman, the LIV chief executive who won the Open twice, to this year’s festivities at St. Andrews.And on Tuesday, Tiger Woods used a news conference to denounce LIV.“What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice?” Woods asked. “What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You’re just getting paid a lot of money upfront and playing a few events and playing 54 holes.”The players who moved from the PGA Tour, which has come under Justice Department scrutiny for its efforts to maintain its roster of golfers, to LIV Golf “turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position,” Woods said.
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