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Stephen Gallacher: It’s not too late to find a compromise between golf’s main tours

Phil Mickelson is planning a trip to London in June
Phil Mickelson is planning a trip to London in June

We’re at the suck it and see stage as the Saudi-backed LIV Invitational Series’ debut draws nearer.

It has been reported 15 of the top 100 golfers in the world rankings have applied to play the first event at the Centurion Club in London in June.

Honestly, I’d be amazed if the number is that low.

Phil Mickelson’s camp have confirmed he has asked to play in the event while there are rumours Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are among those eager to take part too.

The deadline for PGA Tour members to make a formal request for permission to play in the event was Monday. In Europe, the DP World Tour deadline is May 10.

Clearly, interest in this event is high and it should come as no surprise that there are already reportedly more than 70 applicants hoping to gain one of the 48 places on offer in the event.

It would not have surprised me if there were 700 guys wanting a shot at this event.

Money on offer is incredible

It is not hard to see why there is such a big clamour to be involved in this tournament.

It carries a prize fund of $25 million for starters, $5 million more than The Players Championship, the most lucrative event on the PGA Tour in 2022.

To put that into context closer to home, the Scottish Open is our flagship event in this country and it boasts a purse of $8million. It is a Rolex Series event and a huge tournament on our schedule.

The Saudi-backed event in London will offer no world rankings points and you can’t improve your chances of playing in a major by doing well there.

But on June 9 you will be playing in a 54-hole event over three days for a prize fund worth three times that of The Renaissance Club.

Professional golfers all want to win big tournaments and dream of being a major champion. Some of us have the ambition of playing in a Ryder Cup if we’re eligible.

But what we all have in common is a shared vocation. This game is how we make our living and that is why no-one has dismissed the arrival of the LIV Invitational Series.

What will the punishment be?

Could Ian Poulter be banned from playing in the Ryder Cup?

What we don’t know is what the penalty will be if we play in any of these events.

It is a tough predicament for all concerned. PGA Tour chief executive Jay Monahan and his DP World Tour counterpart Keith Pelley will have been in talks about what course of action to take.

Given the strategic alliance between the two tours I would be astonished if they are not aligned in their thought process over this.

There’s been all sorts of talk about bans or financial penalties being imposed but are you telling me Garcia, Westwood and Poulter are not going to be allowed to play in the Ryder Cup over this?

I just can’t see it.

Golfers still want to be world number one, want to win majors and their order of merit. That will not change because of a new tour being set-up.

What I hope I will see, however, is some sort of middle ground being established.

It is in the best interests of everyone to find some sort of agreement about this.

We could limit the number of these events you can play or have some sort of agreed tour schedule to keep fixture clashes between tours to a minimum.

Saudi Arabia is heavily involved in football, Formula One and golf. Love it or hate it, they are here to stay.

With that in mind, we need to find a way to work together.

No exceptions – Norman will have to qualify for St Andrews

Greg Norman wants an exemption to play at the Open

If Greg Norman wants to play the Open at St Andrews this summer he is going to have to qualify.

It looks as if his request for an exemption to play in the 150th Open championship has fallen on deaf ears with the R&A remaining stoic in not granting the 67 year-old a place in the field.

Tom Watson was granted that opportunity in 2015 at the age of 65 but the cases are different. When Watson was runner-up in 2009 at the age of 59 he put himself in the category of being exempt for five years as a past champion who had finished in the top 10.

Granting him one more year was not a big deal.

But Norman’s circumstances are very different. He has not competed in an Open since Watson’s remarkable run in 2009 at Turnberry and has not competed in an event offering world ranking points in 10 years.

A line would form of other players wanting in if Norman was given entry for this one.

I’ve said all year it is the hottest ticket in town this year and Tuesday’s announcement it will be the most-watched one in history with 290,000 fans expected at the Home of Golf.

That’s 50,000 more than the previous record and with 1.3million applications for the ticket ballot it is clear the R&A have done all it can to get as many people in as possible.

I have friends asking if I can help them source accommodation but it is mission impossible.

I’ve been lucky enough to play in four Open championships at St Andrews. I really hope I can make it for a fifth time in July.

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