LIV defectors in contention for claret jug at British Open as Lee Westwood blames media for ‘stoking up’ dispute

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Golf’s breakaway bunch have turned, it appears, right into a band of brothers.

The rebels who’ve created a serious rift on the earth of golf by defecting to the Saudi-funded LIV collection are working collectively for a typical trigger on the British Open this week.

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“Everyone, it appears like, is towards us,” stated Talor Gooch, one of many 24 LIV golfers enjoying at St. Andrews. “And that’s OK. It’s form of banded us collectively, I believe.”

That 24 has been whittled right down to an 11-strong group who will play the weekend on the house of golf.

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5 had been sitting within the high 20 after the second spherical Friday. Two had been within the high 10. One, presumably the most important fish in LIV’s pool in Dustin Johnson, is in fifth place and 4 pictures off the lead.

There stays a definite risk — a lot to the chagrin of the R&A, little doubt — {that a} participant from the LIV tour might be lifting the claret jug on Sunday night.

The prospect was put to Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief govt, on the eve of the occasion and he stated he would “welcome them onto the 18th inexperienced.” But minutes earlier, Slumbers had delivered a withering verdict on the breakaway tour, describing it as a cash seize that threatens golf’s merit-based tradition cultivated over centuries.

Such has been the R&A’s need to cease the LIV saga from disrupting the one hundred and fiftieth British Open that the tour’s CEO, Greg Norman, was informed to not attend the pre-tournament dinner at St. Andrews for previous champions. Norman is a two-winner winner. Phil Mickelson, the 2013 champion and now a LIV participant, additionally didn’t attend the dinner, saying the R&A informed him the membership didn’t suppose it was a good suggestion he went.

LIV gamers weren’t put up for official pre-tournament media duties, both.

However the story is casting one thing of a shadow over the occasion. There have been noticeable jeers for Ian Poulter, one other of the defectors, as he hit his opening tee pictures in each of his rounds — even when he claimed to not have heard them. Random barbs have been heard from the galleries in regards to the huge sums of cash taken by gamers to depart each the PGA Tour and the European tour.

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Johnson stated he has been capable of put any negativity and criticism to at least one facet.

“I don’t learn. I don’t take a look at it,” the previous No. 1 stated. “It doesn’t hassle me as a result of, clearly, everybody has their very own opinion and I’ve mine, and the one one I care about is mine.”

One other LIV participant, Lee Westwood, selected guilty the media for “stoking up” the matter, which has shone a light-weight on Saudi Arabia’s makes an attempt to enhance its picture via sportswashing.

“I believe most people simply need to go on the market and see good golf,” Westwood stated, “irrespective of the place it’s being performed or who’s enjoying it.

When there was pushback from a reporter on that, Westwood stated: “We might stand right here and argue all day, however … I’ve spoken to quite a lot of [non-LIV players] and there is no animosity between gamers. But the story’s been written that there are. Yeah, you are creating points the place there are none. You need to be that means, fantastic.”

Westwood questioned the substance of a query put to him by a reporter who urged that the R&A would not be completely satisfied to see a participant from LIV Golf win this week.

“Who informed you that, [R&A CEO] Martin Slumbers?” Westwood stated. “Did he let you know the R&A would not be completely satisfied? Did he say that?”

When the reporter stated, “No,” Westwood stated: “Properly, you simply made that up then, all proper. So, we needn’t have that dialog, will we? I believe he’ll be proud of whoever is the Champion Golfer of the Yr holding the trophy aloft on Sunday evening as a result of they’re going to have performed the very best. And that is what the R&A need from this championship. They need the very best participant to win, no matter what Tour they play on.”

Ian Poulter, in the meantime, disputed experiences that he was being heckled by spectators for his choice to affix LIV.

“I really thought I had an awesome reception on the primary tee, to be sincere,” Poulter stated.

“All I heard was clapping. I’ve heard not one heckle. In three weeks, I’ve heard nothing. Not one noise. You lot can write no matter you want about being heckled and booing. You’ve got walked 18 holes. Did you hear one remark?”

Johnson, who shot 5-under 67 to maneuver to 9 underneath for the week, is contending at a serious for the primary time this yr.

Gooch is the opposite LIV participant within the high 10 — he’s tied for eighth at 7 underneath — as he appears to enhance on his finest end in seven earlier appearances at a serious, a tie for 14th on the Masters in April.

Additionally within the high 20 was Sadom Kaewkanjana, who was tied for twelfth at 6 underneath, and each Westwood and Abraham Ancer, an additional stroke again in a tie for 18th.

The truth that 1 / 4 of the highest 20 are LIV gamers could be utilized by the insurgent collection to push its standing as a tour of some reputation, versus a wealthy man’s playground for the unmotivated or these previous their finest.

“The credentials of everybody speaks for themselves,” Gooch stated. “It’s clearly cool for me to see different guys which might be on the market enjoying effectively.

“We’ve caught quite a lot of flak for what we’ve carried out right here lately. I believe one factor that can’t be questioned is the standard of gamers which might be there.”

Among the many different LIV gamers making the weekend had been Sergio Garcia, Poulter and Reed, who’s sporting a LIV-branded cap this week.

Mickelson was probably the most high-profile LIV participant to overlook the lower after capturing 77 to complete at 5 over for the week.

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