Tiger Woods has taken a brutal swipe at Greg Norman, backing the R&A's decision to snub the Aussie golf legend from the 150th British Open celebrations.
Norman is the CEO and face of LIV Golf - a breakaway league rivalling the PGA Tour backed and funded by Saudi Arabia.
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Due to his involvement with the rebel tour that has heavily split the sport, Norman's invitation to Monday's Celebration of Champions event and Tuesday night's Champions' Dinner at The Open was revoked.
Norman slammed the Royal and Ancient's decision as "petty", but Woods and fellow veteran Rory McIlroy both endorsed the R&A's big call on Tuesday.
"Greg has done some things that I don't think are in the best interests of the game," said Woods, a 15-time major champion and winner of a record-equalling 82 PGA Tour events.
"And we're coming back to probably the most historic and traditional place in our sport. I believe it's the right thing.
"I know what the PGA Tour stands for and what we have done and what the tour has given us - the ability to chase after our careers and to earn what we get and the trophies we have been able to play for and the history that has been a part of this game.
"I know Greg tried to do this back in the early '90s. It didn't work then, and he's trying to make it work now. I still don't see how that's in the best interests of the game."
McIlroy, one of the most vocal advocates of the PGA Tour and staunchly against Norman and the LIV rebels, said he totally agreed.
"It's the 150th Open Championship and that's what we need to focus on. I think the focus would have been taken away a little bit if he'd have been here," the Northern Irishman said.
But Australian star Marc Leishman, while declining to discuss LIV Golf, said Norman should have been allowed to attend.
The 2015 runner-up at St Andrews grew up idolising Norman, and the Aussie star said the former long-time World No.1's playing record should have been enough.
"He's a champion, a two-time champion, so I don't see why not. He should have been (here)," Leishman told AAP on Tuesday.
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But Woods said he believes LIV Golf - and its modified format - is cheapening the sport.
"What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practise? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt?" he said.
"You're just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They're playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.
"I can understand 54 holes is almost like a mandate when you get to the Senior Tour. The guys are a little bit older and a little more banged up.
"But when you're at this young age and some of these kids - they really are kids who have gone from amateur golf into that organisation - 72-hole tests are part of it.
"We used to have 36-hole playoffs for major championships. That's how it used to be - 18-hole US Open playoffs.
"I just don't see how that move is positive in the long term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organisation doesn't get world-ranking points and the major championships change their criteria for entering the events.
"It would be sad to see some of these young kids never get a chance to experience it and experience what we've got a chance to experience and walk these hallowed grounds and play in these championships."
This week's Open features six major champions who have defected to LIV golf - Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koekpa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Louis Oosthuizen.
McIlroy said he "selfishly" hopes none of the LIV rebels wins the Claret Jug.
"I think it would be better for the game (if they didn't)," said the four-time major winner.
"But, at the end of the day, everyone that's here has the same opportunity to go out there and try to win a Claret Jug, regardless of what tour they play on or whatever that is.
"Whoever wins here at the end of the week should be commended for one of the greatest achievements this game has to offer.
"I'm not going to begrudge anyone if they win the Claret Jug and they play on a different tour than I play.
"That's still a wonderful achievement, and they're still playing the same sport.
"But I selfishly want that person to be me, and I'm going to try my best to make that happen."
The issue has also firmly divided fans and pundits on social media.
I’d be perfectly fine if Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia never teed it up again in a PGA tour event. The Saudi backed tour is just a disgusting money grab, with Greg Norman at the helm. It doesn’t create more competition, it just dilutes established events on PGA and Euro tours.
— bruce kogod (@bkogod) May 11, 2022
LIV is not growing the game. It’s exhibition money grabbing clown golf funded by a murderous regime w a disgusting human rights record. Greg Norman does not care about growing the game. Period. R & A did the right thing. Anyone who thinks otherwise is complicit w sportswashing
— Mark aronowitz (@Mark_Aronowitz) July 9, 2022
The position The R&A have taken in respect of Greg Norman is a disgrace. He hasn't brought the game into disrepute. They may not like the concept of the LIV tour but to deny a 2 time open winner because of their pettiness is really making them look bad. #TheOpen
— David Brown (@DavidBr31287831) July 10, 2022
@TheOpen R&A Celebration of Champions. Disgrace not to invite Greg Norman. He will ALWAYS be part of the Championship heritage - he earned the right!
— Ferdi Ginger (@ferdiginger) July 10, 2022
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