Augusta National Golf Club officials announced that golfers who qualified for the Masters tournament based on its previous criteria will be eligible to play in April 2023.
Therefore, it is likely that many players who are currently competing in the LIV Golf Series will receive an invitation to next year’s Masters.
Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzell have put together a group of six former Masters champions who defected from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf.
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Augusta National Golf Club President Fred Ridley issued a statement on Tuesday announcing the organization’s decision, saying in part:
“Sadly, recent measures have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the merits of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it,” Ridley wrote. “Although we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is on honoring the tradition of bringing together an outstanding field of golfers this coming April.”
“So with invitations being sent out this week, we will be inviting those eligible under our current criteria to compete in the 2023 Masters. As we have said in the past, we look at every aspect of the tournament every year, and any adjustments or changes to the invitation criteria for future tournaments will be announced in April. We have reached a key point in the history of our sport. At Augusta National, we have faith that golf, which has overcome many challenges over the years, will continue again.”
The Masters Tournament, the first major tournament of the season and golf’s most important tournament, is scheduled to take place April 6-9 in Augusta, Georgia.
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Speculation has been circulating for months about the possibility that Augusta National may decide to make it more difficult for LIV golfers to play in the Masters. LIV Golf and the PGA Tour have been at odds for the past several months over the best golfers in the world.
LIV Golf has stirred controversy since its inception. The league is led by two-time Open Championship winner Greg Norman and funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Many of the biggest names on the PGA Tour have signed contracts with LIV Golf that are said to be worth up to $200 million. The new arena also hosted tournaments with the richest purses in the history of the sport.
In August, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and nine LIV golfers filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour. The suit indicated that the Tour colluded with the major leagues in an effort to ban LIV players from major sporting events.
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The complaint alleged that Augusta National officials “threatened to disqualify players from the Masters if they joined LifeGolf.” It also alleged that Chairman Ridley had “personally” instructed players in the 2022 tournament not to leave for LIV Golf.
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Mickelson decided not to compete in this year’s Masters tournament. The three-time Masters winner has received intense criticism for his comments about the “repugnant greed” of the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s history of human rights abuses.
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