ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers on Wednesday defended the organization’s decision not to invite Greg Norman to the festivities surrounding the 150th Open at St. Andrews.
Opinion has been mixed regarding the R&A’s move that has kept away Norman, a two-time Open champion who is now fronting the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit. It was unclear whether Norman even planned to travel to St. Andrews, since he didn’t attend the Opens here in either 2010 or 2015.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were among those who applauded the R&A’s decision, with Woods saying that “Greg has done some things that I don’t think is in the best interests of our game.” Norman and others have called it “petty.” But Slumbers, in his annual news conference ahead of The Open, said that he believed Norman’s presence this week would be a “distraction.”
“We’re absolutely determined to ensure that this goes down in history as about the 150th Open,” Slumbers said. “We decided that there would be, based on noise that I was receiving from multiple sources, that that was going to be potentially unlikely. We decided that we didn’t want the distraction. We wanted to ensure that the conversation was all about this week and playing golf and balls in the air tomorrow and the Champion Golfer on Sunday.”