Open Championship 2023 to allow rebels to play, Cameron Smith, Greg Norman

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Golf’s oldest major, The Open Championship, has all but confirmed that LIV Golf players will still be able to compete for the Claret Jug next year.

All eyes have been on the four majors and whether they will change their criteria from 2023 to prevent those who have joined the Saudi-backed breakaway from competing.

An official stance from the organisers of the Open, the R&A, is expected to come in early 2023, but chief Martin Slumbers appears to have already confirmed the decision.

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In an interview with Golf Digest, Slumbers said that the R&A doesn’t want to “betray 150 years of history” by “not being open”.

“We’ll go public in January/February with what we are going to do with regard to LIV golfers,” he told the publication.

“But if you want a guide, go back to what I said in July. We’re not banning anyone.

“The name says it all. And that’s important. What we will do is ensure that there are appropriate pathways and ways to qualify.”

It means that last year’s champion, Australia’s Cameron Smith, will be clear to defend his title despite joining LIV Golf soon after lifting the Claret Jug.

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“I’m looking forward to seeing Cam Smith tee-up around 9.40am on the first day of The Open next year,” Slumbers added.

Meanwhile, Slumbers defended snubbing LIV Golf chief Greg Norman from this year’s Champions Challenge and the dinner which followed.

The event was attended by a number of legendary past champions, such as Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino.

Norman, however, despite being a two-time winner, was not welcome.

“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,” the R&A said at the time.

Speaking to Golf Digest, Slumbers said he has “ignored” Norman’s criticism of the R&A and stands by the decision.

“With everything that was going on, it was clear to me that there was a reason why he wanted to be there this year,” he said. “If he had been there, it would have been about noise.

“The Open has to be distinct from all that. I didn’t want to have noise between two rival tours and two big personalities. It would have overshadowed what was happening that week.”

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