Golfers who have joined the controversial LIV Golf circuit will be allowed to participate in The Masters in 2023, Augusta National officials have confirmed.
There has been a fracture within the sport after the PGA TOUR suspended those who have signed up for the Saudi-funded breakaway without permission, including players such as Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. The DP Tour have also punished players with a £100,000 fine and banned them from taking part in the Genesis Scottish Open.
However, Fred Ridley, The Masters Chairman, revealed in a statement on Tuesday that entry requirements for the 2023 edition would remain the same and that he wanted next year’s tournament to unite “a preeminent field of golfers”.
His full statement read: “From its inception in 1934, the purpose of the Masters Tournament has been to benefit the game of golf. Each April, the Masters assembles the world’s leading golfers to compete for the Green Jacket and a place in history.
“It provides a stage for fans to experience dramatic moments of competition at the highest level and promotes the sport domestically and abroad. Through the years, legends of the game have competed and won at Augusta National Golf Club.
“Champions like Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have become heroes to golfers of all ages.
“They have inspired some to follow in their footsteps and so many others to play and enjoy the game. They have supported the sport and, thus, all who benefit from it. They have shown respect for those who came before them and blazed a trail for future generations. Golf is better because of them.
“Regrettably, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it. Although we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is to honour the tradition of bringing together a preeminent field of golfers this coming April.
“Therefore, as invitations are sent this week, we will invite those eligible under our current criteria to compete in the 2023 Masters Tournament. As we have said in the past, we look at every aspect of the Tournament each year, and any modifications or changes to invitation criteria for future Tournaments will be announced in April.
“We have reached a seminal point in the history of our sport. At Augusta National, we have faith that golf, which has overcome many challenges through the years, will endure again.”
In addition to Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, other golfers who had been suspended by the PGA TOUR including Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka will be eligible to compete due to their major successes during the past five years.
This year saw Scottie Scheffler wear the iconic Green Jacket, finishing three shots ahead of his nearest rival, Rory McIlroy. Both players have shown strong support of the PGA TOUR in recent months.
The Masters 2023, the 87th edition of the tournament, will occur at Augusta National in the U.S. from 6th – 9th April.