R&A denies Open berth for Asian Tour OOM winner

In a surprise move, the R&A has removed the Asian Tour Order Of Merit winner from exemption into next year’s 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.

The move appears to be in direct retaliation for the Asian Tour’s alignment with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Investments headed by Greg Norman. The partnership, first announced in September, will see over $200 million ploughed into the fledgling tour over the next decade.

Wade Ormsby Wade Ormsby (Credit: Asian Tour)

Both the European and PGA Tours have sought to distance themselves from the oil-rich Kingdom in recent years over alleged human rights violations.

“We review and update our exemptions from time to time and any changes are considered carefully by our championships committee,” said the R&A in a statement about the matter.

Asian Tour players will still be able to qualify for the 2022 Open Championship via three co-sanctioned events including the New Zealand Open, Singapore Open and Kolon Korea Open.

“The members of the Asian Tour are surprised and disappointed with the R&A’s decision to exclude the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit champion from being exempt for the 2022 Open Championship,” said the Asian Tour.

“The decision to single out the Asian Tour from the exemption list doesn’t appear to carry clear rationale or merit, neither is it representative of our long-standing association, in supporting the R&A’s mission to develop the game through the Asia Pacific continent.”

South Australia’s Wade Ormsby (US$250,553) currently holds a slim lead over Phachara Khongwatmai (US$240,650) on the Asian Tour Order Of Merit with two events left on the schedule in the current season.