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Yasir Al-Rumayyan, R&A’s Martin Slumbers secretly met during 2023 British Open

Brian Harman’s stellar performance to lift the Claret Jug and claim the 2023 Open Championship last week provided a break from the ongoing news surrounding the pending deal between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

However, during Sunday’s final round, PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and associate Amanda Staveley met with R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England. The news was first reported by the Telegraph and confirmed by Golfweekalthough R&A officials would not provide comment on a private discussion.

Al-Rumayyan and Staveley were secretly brought to the property with the help of an R&A sponsor, but reports state the meeting was more “symbolic than substantive.”

Slumbers spoke about Saudi money and its place in golf last week ahead of the opening round of the final men’s major championship of the year, saying he was “very open” to talk to “various potential sponsors.”

“We have a number of large corporate partners that help us make this thing happen. I think the world has changed in the last year. It’s not just golf. You’re seeing it in (soccer). You’re seeing it in F1. You’re seeing it in cricket. I’m sure tennis won’t be that far behind,” said Slumbers. “The world of sport has changed dramatically in the last 12 months, and it is not feasible for the R&A or golf to just ignore what is a societal change on a global basis. We will be considering within all the parameters that we look at all the options that we have.”

Newcastle United’s chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan (L) and minority owner Amanda Staveley (C) and Manchester United co-chairman Avram Glazer (R) before a match at Wembley Stadium on February 26, 2023. (Photo by Glyn Kirk/AFP)

Due to the PIF being its primary and long-time sole investor, LIV Golf was criticized as just another way for Saudi Arabia to “sportswash” its controversial human rights record, same with the PIF’s purchase of Premier League team Newcastle United, of which Al-Rumayyan is the chairman and Staveley is a co-investor.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek