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150th Open Championship: As golf travels to its ‘Home,’ it’s played against the backdrop of its biggest threat



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Lengthy gone are the times of males enjoying in fits and utilizing picket golf equipment in a sport that has since transitioned right into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise.

Nonetheless, as the game’s oldest match travels to the ‘residence of golf’ — St. Andrews, Scotland — for its one hundred and fiftieth version, the normal foundations face their largest risk for over half a century.

The delivery of the LIV Golf invitational series has rocked the game, dividing gamers, organizers and followers about who’s fallacious, who is correct and what the way forward for the game must be.

The juxtaposition between probably the most historic and well-known golf match being performed on its oldest course with this new risk within the background, particularly with LIV golfers enjoying in teams alongside their critics in Scotland, has led to the prospect of an interesting main.


Not since 1968 has the PGA Tour confronted a much bigger structural risk than the LIV Golf sequence.

Though the official formation of the tour was within the Twenties, the modern-day group that we now acknowledge got here collectively on the end of 1968 after a bunch of gamers broke away from the PGA of America a few pay dispute.

Since then, it has blossomed into the first driving drive in golf, placing on the most important tournaments world wide exterior of the 4 majors.

Not solely has prize cash steadily elevated, however — alongside the DP World Tour (previously the European Tour) — the PGA Tour has additionally made nice strides in rising alternative in golf, a beforehand closed-door sport.

Regardless of this, breakaway golfers who’ve joined the LIV Golf tour have cited points with the present arrange, and commissioner Jay Monahan’s unwillingness to take heed to what they assume would enhance the PGA Tour, as causes for becoming a member of the profitable Saudi-backed tour.

LIV golfers will earn significantly extra for taking part in in far fewer tournaments. As a number of main winner Phil Mickelson said, having the ability to preserve a work-life steadiness was a key purpose for him becoming a member of.
Japan's Keita Nakajima in action during a practice round ahead of the 150th Open at St. Andrews.

Such reasoning has led to rebuttals from some PGA Tour gamers, together with arguably the sport’s most well-known participant, Tiger Woods.

“I disagree with it [the players’ decision to join LIV Golf],” the 15-time main winner mentioned on Tuesday. “I believe that what they’ve completed is that they’ve turned their again on what has allowed them to get to this place.”

Seven-time PGA Tour winner Billy Horschel succinctly dissected a number of the complaints raised by LIV Golf gamers, saying earlier this month that these gamers who had left had “made their mattress.”

“They determined to go play on that tour and they need to go play there. They should not be coming again over to the DP World Tour or the PGA Tour,” Horschel mentioned.

“To say that they wished to additionally help this tour, whether or not DP or PGA Tour going ahead, whereas enjoying LIV Tour, is totally asinine. These guys made their mattress. They are saying that is what they wish to do, so simply go away us alone.”

Horschel mentioned Monahan and the remainder of the PGA Tour employees labored “tirelessly” in order that the gamers might “reap monetary rewards” and that criticism of the tour was additionally a criticism of its members, the gamers themselves. He conceded some gamers have been “extra upset than others.”

He added: “I am not seeing my household for 5 weeks, however that’s what my spouse and I made a decision. Am I crying about it? No. I am dwelling my dream of making an attempt to play golf professionally and help my household financially.”

Zach Johnson plays his approach shot to the 18th green in the playoff during the final round of the 144th Open Championship on July 20, 2015.


The LIV Golf sequence has definitely made waves.

The tour, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund (PIF) — a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia — has promised to supply gamers the possibility to play fewer occasions for an enormous enhance in prize cash.

Nonetheless, the supply of the cash and gamers’ selections to desert the established golf excursions have resulted in criticism from many,

Gamers have been accused of actively taking part in Saudi Arabia’s regime of sportswashing, a time period used to explain corrupt or authoritarian regimes utilizing sport and sports activities occasions to whitewash their picture internationally.

Saudi Arabia has been accused of utilizing sportswashing lately to divert consideration from the nation’s dismal human rights document.

Tiger Woods kisses the Claret Jug after winning the 2000 Open at the Old Course in St Andrews.

Bin Salman was named in a US intelligence report as being answerable for approving the operation that led to the 2018 homicide of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, although he has denied involvement. Human rights teams have additionally criticized the nation for conducting mass executions and for its remedy of homosexual folks.

Gamers have been pressed by journalists often concerning the morality of taking cash from such a supply. Throughout his press convention forward of final month’s first LIV Golf occasion, Mickelson repeatedly said: “I do not condone human rights violations in any respect.”

For some, the backlash has taken a toll.

“I am unable to activate my Instagram or Twitter account with out somebody telling me to go die,” Graeme McDowell said earlier this month. “I simply want I had mentioned nothing. I want I had sat there and shook my head and mentioned, ‘No remark,’ however it’s not who I’m.”

These weren’t concerns that Willie Park Senior and Outdated Tom Morris needed to ponder again in 1860. The times of gamers having the ability to solely deal with their sport and keep away from answering difficult questions are lengthy gone.

Much like soccer gamers signing for Saudi Arabia-backed Newcastle United or Qatar-backed Paris St-Germain, golfers becoming a member of LIV Golf must discipline questions on human rights and sportswashing.
Jack Nicklaus waves on the Swilcan Bridge during the 134th Open held on the Old Course at St Andrews from July 14-17, 2005.

However each factions can be touring to Scotland to tee off for the Open on Thursday with excessive hopes.

In opposition to the backdrop of historical past and the greats which have come earlier than them, this contemporary battle will happen between the rebels and the conformists, between the brand new and the established. It could possibly be the start of a brand new period.