After all the turmoil and friction between the PGA and the new LIV Tour, Augusta National Golf Club will allow LIV participants to participate in the 2023 Masters Tournament.
While other PGA Tour events have banned LIV golfers from participating, the club announced that it will not change its selection criteria for the 2023 tournament, meaning anyone eligible will receive an invitation to play regardless of affiliation.
“Our focus is to honor the tradition of bringing together a preeminent field of golfers this coming April,” said Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley. “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.”
The current qualifying process consists of three criteria. Players must be past major champions, have a major championship exemption, and/or be ranked in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings by the end of the year (2022, in this case).
Under the current criteria, 16 members of the LIV Tour qualify to participate, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, and Brooks Koepka.
However, LIV Tour events do not currently count toward the Official World Golf Rankings, so future participation of LIV members may require an adjustment in that aspect.
The LIV Tour started earlier this year with a less grueling schedule, substantially bigger tournament prize purses, and new formats. The new organization is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Private Investment Fund and former PGA star Greg Norman and only allows 48 players — split into 12 teams of four — to participate in its tournaments.
Because of its backing and rewards, some questioned the league’s legitimacy, but it was able to earn commitments from 24 PGA golfers. The PGA took exception and sued the LIV five months into the rival tour’s existence.
This forced players to take sides, and many of the most notable players in the world were split. The LIV landed guys like Mickelson, Koepka, and Johnson, while Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, and Collin Morikawa stayed with the PGA.
Players who joined the LIV were indefinitely suspended from all PGA events.
When asked about his participation in the LIV, Mickelson cited an opportunity to reform golf operations, saying, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates,” while acknowledging the risks of being affiliated with the groups that run the new league.
The 89th Masters Tournament will be played in Augusta, Georgia, on Thursday, April 6, through Sunday, April 9, 2023.