Greg Norman has slammed the decision not to invite him to the celebrations surrounding the 150th British Open golf championship at St Andrews as “petty”.
The R&A has decided not to invite Australia’s two-time champion to play the Celebration of Champions event next week, nor to attend the Champions’ Dinner ahead of the major that starts on Thursday.
Norman, the Open winner in 1986 at Turnberry and 1993 at Royal St George’s, is now the CEO and main face of LIV Golf, the lucrative Saudi-backed series which is causing a major rift in the men’s professional game.
And the organising R&A has decided his presence at St Andrews, with so much controversy still swirling around the LIV venture, would be a major distraction it could do without in its marquee week.
The decision, though, has left the 67-year-old ‘Great White Shark’ hugely unimpressed.
“I’m disappointed. I would have thought the R&A would have stayed above it all given their position in world golf,” Norman told Australian Golf Digest after hearing the news.
“(It’s) petty, as all I have done is promote and grow the game of golf globally, on and off the golf course, for more than four decades.”
Norman had been hoping to take part in the special four-hole ‘Celebration of Champions’ challenge on the Old Course on Monday, featuring some of the game’s greatest ex-champions including Tiger Woods, but the R&A made it clear in a statement why he wouldn’t be welcome.
“In response to enquiries regarding the R&A Celebration of Champions field and the Champions’ Dinner, we can confirm that we contacted Greg Norman to advise him that we decided not to invite him to attend on this occasion,” the statement read.
“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 had earlier this year asked the R&A for permission to play in the British Open itself, despite him now having no eligibility as he’s well outside the age limit of 60.
At the time, the R&A refused the request, saying: “We have no plans for any additional exemptions.”
Norman has so far overseen two of eight LIV Golf events planned for the year.
The series has lured players with unprecedentedly huge paydays, with Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka among those so far to have joined up for reportedly massive signing on fees.