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R&A puts LIV Golf players in The Open Champion sand trap

The Royal & Ancient tweaked the exemption categories for The Open, but no concessions were made to LIV Golf.

With no world ranking points available to players on the Saudi breakaway tour, it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to qualify via that route, although as former major winners, Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson already have places in the field for Royal Troon in July.

Other LIV golfers guaranteed spots without having to qualify are Tyrrell Hatton, Dean Burmester, Adrian Meronk, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen and David Puig.

As relations continue to thaw between the previously-warring parties as a result of a merger agreement between the PGA Tour and LIV, there had been suggestions the R&A could make allowances for LIV golfers, particularly after its chief executive Greg Norman wrote to players on Tuesday to say it would no longer be pursuing its long battle to secure world ranking points.

Masters champion Rahm – one of three LIV golfers with a win in the last five majors – was not a fan of the rankings before he made the move in December.

"I'm going to go back to what I said two years ago. I didn't think it was a good system back then," said the Spaniard ahead of LIV Golf Hong Kong, which begins on Friday.

"If anything, the more time goes on, the more it proves to be wrong."

The most significant change made by the R&A is the reduction of the exemption period for new champions to the age of 55.

Past champions will still be able to play until the age of 60 – Tom Watson famously came close to winning a sixth Claret Jug just seven weeks before his 60th birthday at Turnberry in 2009.

Other changes will see players competing on the Asian Tour, the Japan Golf Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tour able to qualify via one of the top five slots on the International Federation Ranking list.

An exemption has also been established for the Africa Amateur champion, with South African Altin Van Der Merwe attending this year after winning the inaugural event last month.

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