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British Open welcomes rebels



LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Players who have signed up to the breakaway Saudi-backed LIV Golf series will be allowed to compete in next month’s 150th British Open, organizers the R&A announced.

The US PGA Tour has banned those involved in the rebel venture after the inaugural event in Britain earlier this month but organizers of last week’s US Open did not follow suit.

That stance will be followed at the year’s final major, which starts at St Andrews in Scotland on 14 July.

“The Open is golf’s original championship and since it was first played in 1860, openness has been fundamental to its ethos and unique appeal,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said.

“Players who are exempt or have earned a place through qualifying for the 150th Open in accordance with the entry terms and conditions will be able to compete in the championship at St. Andrews.”

“We are focused on staging a world-class championship in July and celebrating this truly historic occasion for golf.”

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka is the latest big-name player to defect to the LIV Golf circuit, along with Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, the world No. 20.

Koepka, 32, is expected to make his debut on the money-spinning circuit at its maiden US event in Oregon next week. Koepka’s management team did not immediately respond when contacted by AFP.

The American, who has removed “PGA Tour” from his Twitter profile, will follow a clutch of stars including Dustin Johnson and six-time major-winner Phil Mickelson by joining LIV.

The series, which is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has plunged the golf world into turmoil since its emergence.