Power-Hungry R&A is Misguided In Telling Greg Norman to Stay Home
The 150th British Open is being celebrated as the milestone that it is and all past champions are invited — well, except one certain two-time winner. Alex Miceli thinks that’s wrong.
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Just when you thought the world of professional golf couldn’t get any crazier, the R&A tossed a spanner in the works.
The R&A, in a statement on Saturday, decided that Greg Norman, a two-time champion, is persona non grata in St. Andrews the week of the 150th British Open. Norman was not invited to a four-hole exhibition on Monday at the Old Course, and was also not invited to the Champions’ Dinner on Tuesday.
The R&A believed that since the 150th Open is an extremely important milestone of golf, it wanted to make sure that the focus remains on celebrating the championship and its heritage. The R&A believed Norman, by being CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, would be a distraction.
Norman won the Claret Jug twice, once in 1986 at Turnberry by five shots over Gordon J. Brand and then seven years later at Royal St. George’s by two shots over Nick Faldo. Doesn’t that make Norman part of the heritage of the championship?
It’s this type of petty attitude, where golf organizations fight to control everything, that Norman in his own way is battling with LIV. You don’t have to be a LIV lover to understand that golf should be bigger than this.
For the first time since 1969, when the players from the PGA of America broke and formed the PGA Tour, the hierarchy of golf has been shaken to its core. None of the officials from the PGA Tour, PGA of America or clearly the R&A are comfortable losing control of the game.
When the tournament professionals defected from the PGA of America in the late 1960s, they were called rebels and their names were Gardner Dickinson, Bob Goalby, Billy Casper and Jack Nicklaus.
The reason for the move was simple: it was all about money and power.
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Now the names are Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Brooks Koepka and Norman and the reasons are just as simple: money and power.
With hundreds of men’s professional events staged around the world, the majors are a small percentage. I think LIV is more of a PGA Tour or DP World Tour issue than a major-championship issue.
The Masters quietly decided not to invite Norman to Augusta this year as a past major winner. That, too, was petty, but it was understandable since Norman isn’t a past Masters champion.
But does the R&A’s handling of Norman portend what the green jackets will do at next year’s Masters? How will Augusta National deal with LIV Golf members, who are past Masters champions – Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel?
If the five are not invited, it would fly in the face of Bobby Jones and what he believed the Masters was about.
Golf, at its core, is not about growing the game but is a game of honor, first and foremost. Where is the honor in the R&A’s actions against Norman?
Golf is better than this, even if the R&A is not.
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.