Two-times Open champion Greg Norman has not been invited to the celebrations at the 150th edition of the championship, organisers Royal & Ancient (R&A) said on Saturday, as they feared his involvement with LIV Golf would tarnish the occasion.
Norman, who won the Open in 1986 and 1993, is the CEO of LIV Golf -- the lucrative, Saudi-backed series that has split the sport and led to Europe’s DP World Tour and U.S.-based PGA Tour suspending players who join the rebel league.
The R&A said Norman, a former world number one, would not attend the Celebration of Champions field and the Champions’ Dinner at the Open which will be held at St Andrews from July 14-17.
“We can confirm that we contacted Greg Norman to advise him that we decided not to invite him to attend on this occasion,” the R&A said in a statement.
“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.”
Norman, 67, had also intended to come out of retirement and had asked to play in the major but his request was turned down, with the body saying they would not alter their stance on entry requirements for previous winners to accommodate him.
Australian Norman is the frontman for the $255-million LIV series which is being bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which critics say is a vehicle for the country to improve its image in the face of criticism of its human rights record.
Its opening event in London was won by South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, who took home prize money worth $4 million -- the biggest pay cheque in golf history.
The winner of the 150th Open will receive $2.5 million in prize money.