Norman, two-time Open champion, unwanted guest at St. Andrews

NORTH BERWICK, Scotland (AP) — Greg Norman has already spoken about playing the British Open next week. Now he can’t even attend dinner at St. Andrews for former champions.

Norman, who won the Open at Turnberry in 1986 and Royal St. George’s in 1993, would have been eligible for the four-hole “Celebration of Champions” exhibition which takes place only at St. Andrews, with the Champions Dinner .

The R&A said on Saturday it contacted Norman to say “we have decided not to invite him on this occasion”.

“The 150th Open is a hugely important milestone for golf and we want to ensure that the focus remains on celebrating the championship and its legacy,” the R&A said. “Unfortunately, we don’t think that would be the case if Greg were to attend.”

Norman has been seen as a golf disrupter as CEO of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series which pays up to $150 million to sign former great champions like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau and hold 54-hole events with a shotgun start that pays out $25 million in prize money.

The PGA Tour has suspended players who signed up for the Rebel League, and the European Tour is fining its players 100,000 pounds ($120,000) for every LIV event they attend.

Norman has already rubbed the R&A the wrong way with an interview earlier this year with Australia-based News Corp. in which he said he was filling out his entry form for the 150th Open and “I think I can still come in”.

This led the R&A to issue a statement saying, “We have no plans for additional exemptions.”

Norman is 67 and former Open champions are only exempt up to the age of 60. His final year of eligibility was in 2015 at St. Andrews. He chose not to play, saying he hadn’t trained enough and didn’t feel right about taking a place on the pitch from a young player.

The R&A did not deny exemptions to eligible players following the USGA decision for the US Open due to the open nature of their majors. There are 23 players on the course at St. Andrews who played in the last LIV Golf event.

It was unclear if Norman intended to be at St. Andrews. The R&A said it was responding to inquiries by issuing a statement which ended: ‘We hope that when circumstances permit, Greg will be able to attend again in the future.’

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