Confirming a widely-expected decision, The R&A will allow players who are part of the LIV Golf breakaway tour to compete in the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews.
"The Open is golf's original championship and since it was first played in 1860, openness has been fundamental to its ethos and unique appeal," Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said in a statement. "Players who are exempt or have earned a place through qualifying for The 150th Open in accordance with the entry terms and conditions will be able to compete in the Championship at St Andrews. We are focused on staging a world-class championship in July and celebrating this truly historic occasion for golf."
The Open follows the USGA and the U.S. Open's lead earlier this month in permitting already-qualified LIV players to compete. Also like the USGA, The R&A took care to note that this opportunity exists only for this year's tournament.
Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen are former Open Championship winners aligned with LIV, as is Greg Norman, LIV's CEO.
The R&A's decision kicks the question of LIV players' participation in majors another few weeks or months down the road. Any decision one way or another — ban LIV players, or welcome them — will invite immediate legal challenges.
The majors are the key to the ongoing battle between LIV and the PGA Tour, which does not control any of those four majors. If LIV players can compete in the majors, LIV and its lucrative paydays will become that much more attractive to players. If LIV players are boxed out of majors, golf's true measure of legacy and prominence, some players might reconsider if money alone is enough.
Regarding money, the PGA Tour is also preparing a plan to increase the purses at several Tour events — in effect, creating a LIV Golf mini-tour of its own. Details are still to come, but the Tour is clearly admitting that legacy and tradition alone are not enough to keep players in the fold.
Contact Jay Busbee at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.