HOYLAKE, England – Although it has been standard operating procedure since the 2011 Open Championship, some players were surprised when officials from the R&A informed them upon arrival at Hoylake that they would be required to sign an anti-betting waiver.
The waiver requires a player not to make a wager on the tournament, which is common practice throughout the United Kingdom.
“This whole business of keeping sport clean in terms of betting is very high on the (International Olympic Committee’s) agenda at the moment, and something that we're following very closely because it's just a killer to sport to think that any outcomes might have been predetermined,” said R&A CEO Peter Dawson on Wednesday. “I really don't think that's applying in golf. But we have to be vigilant.”
The waiver dovetails with similar policies for players on the PGA and European tours and was first used by R&A officials in 2011 at Royal St. George’s.
“I guess the reason is the possibility of a conflict of interest between two players and they could get into contention,” said Stewart Cink, the 2009 Open champion who didn’t recall signing a similar waiver in the past. “But if you have a bet on another player and it makes more sense to let him win then you must have a lot of money riding on him. That’s hard to believe.”
To Cink’s point, last year’s purse at the Open was $8 million and Phil Mickelson collected $1.44 million for his victory.
Although caddies were not required to sign the waiver, according to the R&A’s anti-gaming policy, “No competitor or caddie shall have any financial interest, either director or indirect, in the performance or winnings of any other competitor in the Open Championship, whether through purse-splitting, prize money ‘insurances,’ financial assistance, bets or otherwise.”
Many caddies questioned by GolfChannel.com, however, were unaware of the policy.