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Brit Open chief moans over ‘civil war’


HOYLAKE, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Open organizers the R&A warned on Wednesday that golf cannot jeopardize its financial future by ever-increasing prize money for players after the influx of cash to the sport from the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

Backed by the PIF, the breakaway LIV Golf series lured star names such as Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith to join the rebel tour with signing bonuses worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The PGA Tour reacted with increased prize funds to try and retain its top talent.

But the PGA and DP World Tours have now turned to a proposed merger with the PIF’s commercial golf businesses, including LIV, to secure their financial future.

Details of how the framework agreement will work in practice remain unknown, with leading players from both the PGA Tour and LIV voicing their frustration this week at being left in the dark.

The R&A is not a part of that deal, but chief executive Martin Slumbers welcomed a deal to bring golf’s civil war to an end.

“To be clear, we’re not party to the agreement, and while we absolutely welcome an end to the disruption in the men’s professional game, there is a lot still to be understood,” said Slumbers at a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the start of the British Open on Thursday..

“The disruption being caused by the game is not good for the sport. It’s tearing the sport apart. We need to move beyond that.”

However, Slumbers warned that ever-increasing rewards at the top of the game are eating into resources to grow the sport at the grassroots level.

The prize money on offer at the British Open has almost doubled since 2016 to $16.5 million, with the winner at Hoylake this week walking away with $3 million.

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