Martin Slumbers is the chief executive of the R&A, the organization that runs the British Open Championship. On Wednesday morning, ahead of the Q&A part of the press conference, the CEO went on a tirade against LIV Golf, at one point claiming there’s “no such thing as a free lunch.”
“I believe the model we’ve seen at Centurion (London) and Pumpkin Ridge (Portland) is not in the best long-term interests of the sport as a whole and is entirely driven by money,” said an angry Slumber. “We believe it undermines the merit-based culture and the spirit of open competition that makes golf so special.
“I would also like to say that in my opinion the continued commentary that this is about “growing the game” is just not credible and if anything, is harming the perception of our sport which we are working so hard to improve.”
Towards the end of his diatribe, Slumbers attempted to spin the R&A as being virtuous and transparent, claiming the R&A was not in the business of banning golfers. He then quickly pivoted to the idea of changing the “qualifications criteria,” which would do just that: effectively ban LIV golfers.
“Looking ahead to The Open next year, we have been asked quite frequently about banning players,” said Slumbers. “Let me be very clear. That’s not on our agenda.
“But what is on our agenda is that we will review our exemptions and qualifications criteria for The Open.
“And whilst we do that every year, we absolutely reserve the right to make changes as our Open Championships Committee deems appropriate. Players have to earn their place in The Open, and that is fundamental to its ethos and its unique global appeal.”
Interestingly, Tiger Woods also used the word “criteria” yesterday.
“And who knows what’s going to happen in the near future with world-ranking points, the criteria for entering major championships,” said Woods.
“The governing body is going to have to figure that out.
“Some of these players may not ever get a chance to play in major championships. That is a possibility.”
Given his clear bias against LIV Golf, Slumbers was asked if there’s a conflict of interest for him to be voting on the important matter of LIV Golf being awarded world-ranking points. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to recuse himself from voting on the issue?
He responded, “I think I said earlier I’m not willing to answer any more questions on OWGR.
Asked to expound, Slumbers curtly said, “The question of conflict of interest will be a matter decided by the UK Companies Act.”
Asked point blank if the R&A was in collusion with the other governing bodies, Slumbers gave a one-word answer: “No.”
In a follow up, he was asked if it was then a “purely individual” decision, despite everyone seemingly singing from the same hymn book.
“We have great relationships. We have a common objective about improving the game and developing the game,” said Slumber, in what was almost an admission of collusion.
He added, “But we all have our own independent agendas.”
“Independent agendas” that all seemingly have the same “common objective.”