Open Championship 2022: Greg Norman frozen in golf’s new cold war | Golf News and Tour Information

The opening salvo came via email from the R&A. The title alone was ominous:

R&A CHAMPIONS CELEBRATION STATEMENT

The celebration of champions is a parade of great golfers, descending the 1st and 2nd holes of the Old Course, then heading home on the 17th and 18th. How on earth could God’s pale green land this need a statement?

It is, and the terse four-sentence announcement can be seen as the first public salvo in a golf war that is beginning to look something like this: The Golf Establishment versus the Outlaw Tour. Not on the legal front, but on something that will eventually resonate more significantly than that: the social front.

The R&A statement, in all its glory from Oxbridge:

“In response to inquiries regarding the R&A Celebration of Champions field and the Champions Dinner, we can confirm that we have contacted Greg Norman to inform him that we have decided not to invite him to this occasion. The 150th Open is a A hugely important milestone for golf and we want to ensure that the focus remains on celebrating the championship and its legacy. Unfortunately, we don’t believe that would be the case if Greg were to attend. We hope that when the circumstances permit, Greg may participate again in the future.

These are the people who bring you, “Off the tee, from the United States, Patrick Reed.” Without a hint of sarcasm.

These are the people who bring you, on Sunday evening, the most spectacular baritone you have ever heard: “The winner of the gold medal and the golf champion of the year is Louis Oosthuizen. With the most exquisite and perfect pronunciation of his surname Afrikaners there could be.

In other words, these people do like nobody’s business. Disinviting someone to a public event and a private dinner they have earned the right to attend (twice!) is a serious, very serious statement.

What he says is this: you, Greg Norman, although you have won this great championship twice, although you are one of the most accomplished figures in the history of the game, are now a golf pariah. because of your central association with this LIV Golf Series, which is not just a disruptor, but a game changer.

Personally, I don’t see it. Augusta National had the good grace to state that the club did not disinvite Phil Mickelson from this year’s tournament. The truth, as I know it, is that he was persuaded to see what he could finally see for himself: it wouldn’t do him or the tournament any good for Mickelson to play this year.

It would have been awkward, perhaps, to have Norman at dinner at St. Andrews, alongside Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. But he had the right to be there. So why are former LIV champions and defectors Mickelson and Oosthuizen still on the guest list? Unlike Norman, they are not the face of this upstart tour.

As for the golf, Norman would have contented himself with playing the four holes and would have waved to the crowd. It could have worn a LIV emblem. He wasn’t going to carry a sign that said, “Make LIV, Not War.”

A few months ago, when Fred Ridley, president of Augusta National, refused to meet with Norman, who wanted to explain the whole LIV series to him, it was a statement. The sharing was announced, in an exquisite intimacy. But it’s as public as it gets.

I don’t think that will work. I don’t think the R&A is helping their cause here. Golf was never about us. v. Them. Now that is clearly the case. If this decision does anything, it will tilt public opinion in the direction of LIV.

But you have to admire that the R&A stands up for its beliefs.

There’s more here than meets the eye. Rory McIlroy, in a recent interview with the BBC, suggested that golf is in a place where there could be some sort of compromise and fusion between the needs and wants of the PGA and DP tours and the LIV series. Certainly, the R&A would not have a seat at such a meeting, just as the USGA would not. Neither did the PGA of America.

But the big picture is this: The leaders of the R&A, USGA, PGA of America, and European and American tours, plus Augusta National, are finally reunited at the hip. In the end, they speak as one. They are one on all the major issues golf has faced, from ball size to non-discrimination standards for clubs wishing to host events. (Although it should be noted that Augusta National has had plenty of time to finally admit female members.) If the R&A already says this will have nothing to do with Norman as a person and LIV as a company of golf, the other organs will say the same.

Does this mean Major Events will find a way to keep LIV players off their lots? Yes, thanks to World Golf Ranking points. (LIV, 54-hole events won’t ultimately qualify for points, I guess.)

The LIV Tour will have two Trump Court events this year. Next year, when the calendar expands to 14 events, there could be more than two. The PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the R&A have already frozen Trump. A road to detente, as McIlroy suggests, is already complicated by the LIV-Trump Golf relationship. And complicated is a bit of a British understatement.

The statement was neat and orderly. The stormy sea below rises.

Michael Bamberger welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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