The 150th Open: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy back R&A decision to deny Greg Norman invite at St Andrews
Woods reiterated his opposition to the Greg Norman-backed LIV Golf tour and questioned the major futures of the golfers who have joined the breakaway circuit; Watch The Open live on Thursday from 6.30am on Sky Sports The Open
By Ali Stafford at St Andrews
Last Updated: 13/07/22 6:07am
Tiger Woods has backed the R&A decision not to invite Greg Norman to The 150th Open and has questioned the decision of players to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
The R&A released a statement ahead of the final men's major of the year to confirm that Norman, the CEO of the breakaway tour, would not be invited to compete in the Celebration of Champions event or to attend the Champions' Dinner at St Andrews.
Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau are among the former major winners to commit to the LIV Golf events, with Woods not sure why players would "turn their backs" on the PGA Tour.
Speaking ahead of The Open, Woods said: "Greg has done some things that I don't think are in the best interest of our game, and we're coming back to probably the most historic and traditional place in our sport. I believe it's the right thing.
"I know what the PGA Tour stands for and what we have done and what the Tour has given us, the ability to chase after our careers and to earn what we get and the trophies we have been able to play for and the history that has been a part of this game.
"I know Greg tried to do this back in the early '90s. It didn't work then, and he's trying to make it work now. I disagree with it. I think that what they've done is they've turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position."
The LIV series currently doesn't offer world ranking points, meaning players involved may struggle to qualify for majors in the years ahead, with Woods questioning both the format of the LIV events and the major future for those involved.
"It's up to all the major championship bodies to make that determination, but it is a possibility that some players will never, ever get a chance to play in a major championship, never get a chance to experience this right here, walk down the fairways at Augusta National," Woods added.
"That, to me, I just don't understand it. What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You're just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They're playing blaring music and all these atmospheres that are different.
"I can understand 54 holes is almost like a mandate when you get to the Senior Tour. The guys are a little bit older and a little more banged up. But when you're at this young age and some of these kids... they really are kids who have gone from amateur golf into that organisation.
"I just don't see how that move is positive in the long term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organisation doesn't get world ranking points and the major championships change their criteria for entering the events."
McIlroy: Right decision to not invite Norman
Norman's potential presence was viewed by tournament organisers as an unwelcome distraction ahead of the historic edition of The Open, with McIlroy supporting Woods' view that the R&A were right not to let the two-time Open winner attend.
"It's The 150th Open Championship, and that's what we need to focus on," McIlroy said. "I think the focus would have been taken away a little bit if he'd have been here.
"I supported that decision, and I think right now, because of everything that's happening in the golf world, I think it was the right decision to be made. If things change in the future or whatever happens, who knows, but I could see a day where he's certainly welcome back.
"But right now, just with everything going on, we want the focus to be on The 150th Open Championship and this being a celebration of a wonderful golf tournament and a wonderful game in general, and I think it was the right decision for that."
McIlroy, who is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season but without a major success since 2014, admits he would rather see a player from outside the breakaway circuit lift the Claret Jug.
"Selfishly, for me, yes, I think it [a non-LIV major winner] would be better for the game," McIlroy added. "But at the end of the day, everyone that's here has the same opportunity to go out there and try to win a Claret Jug, regardless of what Tour they play on or whatever that is.
"Whoever wins here at the end of the week should be commended for one of the greatest achievements this game has to offer. I'm not going to begrudge anyone if they win the Claret Jug and they play on a different Tour than I play.
"That's still a wonderful achievement, and they're still playing the same sport. But I selfishly want that person to be me, and I'm going to try my best to make that happen."
Watch The 150th Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports' dedicated channel. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 6.30am live on Sky Sports The Open.