There may be some awkward groupings shared at this week’s Masters. Not because of competitive spirit, but because of allegiance.
The 2023 Masters tournament marks the first time that PGA Tour golfers will be joined by LIV Golf Series players at the same time at Augusta. While LIV players have played in golf majors over the last year, this will mark the first time that both PGA and LIV players will vie for the green jacket.
Some may ask: Why are LIV players allowed to partake in the Masters tournament? There’s a simple reason for their involvement this week: The Masters and the three other golf majors — the Open Championship, PGA Championship and U.S. Open — are not owned, governed or operated by the PGA Tour.
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Therefore, the PGA Tour has no control over the field and who will play, leading to Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and others taking to Augusta National this weekend.
That also means LIV Golf players are allowed to play in any of the four major championships every year, as long as the criteria for qualification remains the same.
That last part is important and it could change. While the Masters is open to the LIV Golf players for now, it may not remain that way for years to come.
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Augusta National and Masters chairman Fred Ridley said in December 2022 that there may be changes to the invitation criteria in the future. We should know more when he speaks on Wednesday this week, but don’t expect any major changes in the immediate.
“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,” he said in his December statement.
With LIV Golf still waiting on its Official Golf World Ranking status, should the circuit end up not getting eligibility to receive OWGR, that may eliminate some of the field. The Masters could also opt to mirror the PGA Tour eligibility, which would eliminate all LIV Golfers, as they are suspended from the PGA Tour.
For now, though, LIV Golf players get to tee it up at Augusta — though the situation is one unlike any other.