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TEE TO GREEN, STEVE SCOTT: Greg Norman’s Open demand is just a desperate whine for attention

The Open Championship will be held for the 150th time at St Andrews in July.

We should consider the news that Greg Norman is basically demanding a place in the 150th Open simply as a narcissist’s desperate whine for attention.

Norman has let it be known that he wants to play this July at St Andrews. The twice-former winner would probably be invited to be part of the Celebration of Champions event that precedes the championship itself. But that’s not enough for him.

He wants a place in the actual championship field. But former champions are only exempt from qualifying until age 60, and Norman is now 67.

The Tom Watson Clause

There is one loophole, introduced after Tom Watson’s famous second place finish at Turnberry in 2009 at age 59.

After that heartbreaking week, the R&A suddenly realised Tom had only one more year of eligibility at The Open, even though he was still obviously competitive.

So they fashioned a new exemption which allowed former champions to keep playing over age 60 if they had a top 10 finish in the Open within a five-year period. In the end Watson was granted another further year to allow him to bow out at the 2015 championship.

He was/is a five-time Open champion and as universally beloved a player to the Scottish galleries as has ever existed. No-one could have possibly objected to the R&A stretching the eligibility so he could say goodbye on the Swilcan Bridge.

Same for Greg, then? Heck as like. Norman did have a top 10 finish in the Open himself as recently as 2008 at Birkdale. But he was 53 then, and the Watson clause never came into play for him.

So the only way into the 150th Open for Norman is to go through Final Qualifying. That’s staged at four venues – including Fairmont St Andrews – in UK and Ireland in late June. But Greg’s let it be known that he has no intention of that.

Therefore, what Norman wants is a free pass into this year’s championship. But unlike their counterparts at the US Open, the PGA and the Masters, the Open does not do invites, or ‘special exemptions’. Quite rightly.

Why the love for the Open all of a sudden?

Anyway, Norman hasn’t played The Open since 2009. Despite now professing his ardent love of St Andrews, he did not play the 2010 or 2015 championships. He was exempt for both.

Norman hasn’t played a Senior or Champions Tour major since 2012. There’s been no suggestion – yet – that he’s even going to play in the LIV Investments golf tour he’s fronting on behalf of the Saudis.

Of course, Norman knows full well he can’t get into the Open. I seriously doubt that he actually wants to play. What he wants is attention, publicity for his project and to make things awkward. Job done already.

After Augusta, Norman was quoted as saying that he and the LIV project “respectfully let the Masters go off” without any interventions on their behalf.

How generous. The truth is no-one was remotely concerned with him or his `tour’ when Tiger Woods was making his comeback. And it’s not as if they had any major announcements after the Masters was all wrapped up.

What massive revelations did they save until Scottie Scheffler was suitably green-jacketed?

The season finale of the first LIV “Tour” is to be at Trump Doral. Robert Garrigus, a name known largely only to avid followers of the PGA Tour,  is the first – and as yet only – player to have been revealed to want to play in their opening event in Hemel Hempstead in June.

LIV are now offering backdated cash to leading amateurs to play in their events. Meanwhile, the actual tour they’ve proposed has been mothballed for at least two years.

Finally, now Greg has announced he wants a free pass into the 150th Open. Be still my beating heart.

A clear tone of desperation

I freely admit I might be underestimating the ardour of elite professionals above Garrigus’ status to play for monster money at the expense of the game’s great and established prizes. But it seems to me that there’s now a clear desperate tone to Norman and his backers.

Rather than be respectful to The Open as he was to the Masters, he’d rather be attention-seeking and disruptive. That’s no real surprise, as he and the R&A have had a testy relationship for a while.

He won’t get a place in the championship field. Neither does the R&A have any interest – and really no business – in being neutral in the battle between LIV and the Tours.

Because the clear long-term aim of the Saudis and Norman is to buy golf in entirety. Not just the PGA and DP World Tours, but the R&A’s treasured role in administration and governance as well.

The R&A has many critics for the way it runs golf, but at the very least it’s a neutral entity with no motivation other than the health of the sport. And there’s the bonus that they’ve never executed anyone.

Norman probably won’t even get invited to Celebration of Champions now. That’s unfortunate, but will we miss him?

As much as we’ve missed his entirely voluntary absence in the last 13 years, I’d guess.

The Open will never be at Turnberry with THAT name on it

There’s a suggestion that LIV’s first tour finale being staged at Donald Trump’s Doral resort has finally ended all hope of The Open going back to Turnberry.

Actually, that hope ended some considerable time ago. Golf’s establishment has treated Trump as a pariah long before even the events at the end of his presidency.

The R&A only publicly said they wouldn’t go to Turnberry for The Open then. But in truth they’d decided as far back as 2015 that they wouldn’t go there while Trump owned the resort.

The circus that was the Women’s Open that year convinced the hierarchy at St Andrews that an Open couldn’t take place there without Trump being a complete distraction.

I remember one senior R&A man swearing to me that the words “Trump Turnberry” would never be engraved on the Claret Jug. We can reasonably assume until that name’s off the property, we won’t be going there.