CONFIRMED: Masters to allow LIV Golf players in 2023 but hint at TROUBLE ahead

LIV Golf players will be free to play the 2023 Masters, according to a statement released by Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley.

Ben Smith's picture
Tue, 20 Dec 2022
CONFIRMED: Masters to allow LIV Golf players in 2023 but hint at TROUBLE ahead

Tournament organisers of The Masters have hinted LIV Golf players may still yet be banned from the major in the future as they confirmed those eligible under the current criteria will be able to tee it up next April at Augusta National. 

A statement was released on Tuesday confirming those already qualified will not be prevented from competing in the tradition like no other in 2023. 

Invitations for next year's Masters were sent out today. The decision affects 16 players who have signed for the breakaway tour, commissioned by Greg Norman

Players such as Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Abraham Ancer, Talor Gooch, Dustin Johnson, Harold Varner III, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen and Brooks Koepka will be in the field. 

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Bryson DeChambeau - who has fallen outside of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking - will be able to play owing to his exemption from winning the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. 

Phil Mickelson will now be expected to make his return to Augusta. 

Mickelson skipped the 86th Masters due to the negative publicity he was receiving in the wake of signing a $200m deal with LIV Golf. 

The other affected players are Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel and Patrick Reed.

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley was coy on the subject when he gave his annual media conference last year. 

Ridley has since been accused in court documents of attempting to persuade players not to join LIV Golf. 

The news comes after R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers confirmed LIV players will be allowed to participate in The Open next summer. 

In the statement, tournament organisers have expressed their unhappiness with the LIV players, suggesting the actions of those who have joined the breakaway tour have:

"Divided men's professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it." 

Augusta National have also confirmed that any changes or modifications to the qualifying criteria will be announced next April. 

Read the full statement from Augusta National here:

"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." 

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The statement continued: 

"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."

Next page: Nine players who changed their mind about LIV Golf