A group representing families of victims and survivors of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States has called on the Masters to reconsider its decision not to ban LIV Golf players from competing in April.
9/11 Families United, who previously wrote to the agents of several US LIV players expressing outrage at their rivalry at the Saudi-funded events, has vowed to protest at the Augusta National if the policy is not reversed.
The PGA Tour suspended members who took part in the breakaway competition without permission, while the DP World Tour fined the players £100,000 and banned them from the Genesis Scottish Open, but held that this remained temporarily on appeal.
R&A CEO Martin Slumbers said in July that banning LIV players from next year’s tournament was “not on the agenda”, but he did not rule out changing the tournament entry criteria.
Masters chairman Fred Ridley took a similar stance on Tuesday, saying in a statement that entry criteria for 2023 will remain the same, with any potential future changes announced in April.
Former Masters champions Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson are among the top players to join LIV, while others still in the world’s top 50 – although LIV is not currently allowed to award ranking points – will remain. Qualified to compete at the Augusta National.
Ridley’s statement read: “Since its inception in 1934, the purpose of The Masters Tournament has been to benefit the game of golf.
Every April, the Masters brings together the world’s leading golfers to compete for a green jacket and a place in history.
“They provide a platform for fans to experience exciting moments of competition at the highest level and to promote the sport both domestically and abroad.
Over the years, legends of the game have competed in and won at Augusta National Golf Club.
Champions like Gene Sarzen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have become champions for golfers of all ages.
“They have inspired some to follow in their footsteps and many others to play and enjoy the game. They have supported the sport and therefore all of its beneficiaries.
“They showed respect to those who came before them and made a way for generations to come. Golf is better because of them.
Unfortunately, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the game’s merits and the meaningful legacies of those who built it.
“While we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is on honoring the tradition of bringing together an outstanding field of golfers this coming April.
Therefore, with invitations sent out this week, we will be inviting 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 adjustments or changes to the invitation criteria for future tournaments will be announced in April.
“We have reached a key point in the history of our sport. At Augusta National, we have faith that golf, which has overcome many challenges over the years, will continue again.”
Ridley’s statement drew an angry response from Famous United on 9/11, which indicated in its letter to operatives Mickelson, Johnson, Reed, Bryson Dechambeau and Kevin Na in June that Osama bin Laden and the 15 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. “
The organization’s statement on Tuesday read: “In the aftermath of 9/11, our country agreed that we would never forget that terrible day.
“The only reason the Saudis launched the LIV was to try to make the world forget who they were and what they did, including their role in 9/11.
Anyone who has truly vowed to ‘never forget’ should be appalled by these golfers’ decision to put money on their country.
“On behalf of 9/11 Families United, we call on Augusta National to reconsider its open door policy for Leaf golfers. If they are welcomed with open arms, we will be at their front door to protest in April.”
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