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Greg Norman hopeful for special exemption to play The Open; R&A has 'no plans'

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Greg Norman has created an industry out of pushing back against the status quo in professional golf, so it was no surprise that he applied the same sensibilities to his competitive future.

The Australian told News Corp that he has set his sights on a return to competition later this summer at The Open Championship. Norman hasn’t played in a PGA Tour event since 2012, and at 67 years old, he is seven years past the exemption threshold for former champions.

“I think I can still get in,” said Norman, who last played The Open in 2009 at Turnberry. “It’s the 150th. I’m a past Open champion. I love St. Andrews.

“If there’s a moment in time that I would consider going back and teeing off one last time. Maybe this is it.”

According to a spokesperson for Norman, he does not plan to attempt to qualify for The Open, but instead will submit a request for a special exemption into the championship.

In 2014, the R&A granted Tom Watson a special exemption into The Open at age 65, but it doesn’t appear as if the R&A has much interest in granting a similar request to Norman.

“The entry terms and conditions for The Open stipulate that a champion must be aged 60 or under or have won the championship in the previous 10 years to be exempt from qualifying,” a spokesman for the R&A said. “That remains the case for the 150th Open and we have no plans for any additional exemptions.”

Norman’s request comes in the middle of a growing divide in professional golf between the established tours and LIV Golf, which is the organization behind a startup rival league that is led by Norman. LIV Golf plans to hold a series of invitational events starting in June that are poised to lure players away from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour with limited fields, team formats and lucrative purses.

Late last year, LIV Golf made a sizable investment into the Asian Tour shortly before the R&A ended an exemption into The Open for that circuit’s top money earner. Some saw the R&A’s move as a not-so-subtle show of support for the PGA Tour.