[PHOTO: Luke Walker/WME IMG]

There was a time when the name of “Andrew Waterman” appeared in the draw for this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. But only a time. At 2:41pm locally on the eve of the event, “Waterman” disappeared and was replaced by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and chairman of the LIV Golf League.

Al-Rumayyan, 53, will tee-up alongside Peter Uihlein, one of the four LIV Golf players competing at the DP World Tour’s AT&T National Pro-Am-style event. Notable in the same group, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers will tee-up with his professional partner, England’s Jordan Smith.

Al-Rumayyan’s participation, originally under the pseudonym, was first reported by The Scotsman. Johann Rupert, chairman of Richemont, Dunhill’s parent company, was quoted in the article as saying, “Sport is supposed to unite people, not divide. We need to get peace.”

In that respect at least, Rupert and Al-Rumayyan have much in common. The Saudi was involved in brokering the initial framework agreement announced in June between the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the PIF to create a for-profit entity that would allow the groups to share assets. And he is currently a key player in the negotiations to come to a final agreement before the end of the year.

“It was suggested to me a while ago that I should extend an invitation to His Excellency, but I only got confirmation last week to say he would be playing,” Rupert told The Scotsman. “And, if I am asked by anyone what we will discuss, I will be saying it will be support for amateur golf worldwide. What is happening in golf just now is not growing the golf. It’s only making the top 100 players a lot wealthier. We have just launched the African Amateur Championship, for example, and we need support to expand the credibility of that.”

The on-course meeting between Al-Rumayyan and Slumbers is probably not their first encounter. The pair were reported to have chatted during the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in July. Significantly perhaps, Slumbers did not rule out the possibility of accepting Saudi money in R&A events.

“If I’m very open, we are and do and continue to do, talk to various potential sponsors,” Slumbers said two months ago. “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 football. You’re seeing it in F1. You’re seeing it in cricket. I’m sure tennis won’t be that far behind. The world of sport has changed dramatically in the past 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.”

For those wondering how Uihlein, Louis Oosthuizen, Talor Gooch and Laurie Canter made their way into a field that does not include the likes of fellow LIV players (and former DP World Tour winners) Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia, a DP World Tour spokesman told The Scotsman, “The players are non-members [apart from Canter] and playing on sponsor’s invites. They also have no outstanding sanctions.”

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This article was originally published on golfdigest.com