Exclusive:Newcastle United and LIV chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan playing in Dunhill Links

His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), is teeing up in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland after initially been listed under a pseudonym .

Having been invited by Johann Rupert, the driving force behind the popular pro am at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews, the 53-year-old will team up with LIV Golf player Peter Uihlein.

Al-Rumayyan, who was initially listed on the draw as Andrew Waterman before that was updated with his own name around 2.41pm on Wednesday, will play his opening round of the $5 million event on Thursday, when he will be in the same group as R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers.

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“Sport is supposed to unite people, not divide,” Rupert, the chairman of Dunhill’s parent company Richemont and also chairman of the event’s championship committee, told The Scotsman. “We need to get peace.”

Al-Rumayyan, who is the Newcastle United chairman, will be heading to Scotland after watching Eddie Howe’s team take on Paris St Germain in the Champions League at St James’ Park on Wednesday night.

In addition to holding the PIF purse strings, Al-Rumayyan is also the chairman of Saudi Aramco, which is the most valuable company in the world at $1.7 trillion.

A keen golfer himself, he’s been the driving force behind the Saudis getting heavily involved in golf, initially through the Saudi International, which was held for three years on the DP World Tour before becoming part of the Asian Tour over the past two years.

As its mastermind, Al-Rumayyan is the boss of Greg Norman, LIV Golf’s CEO and commissioner, and played in the pro-am ahead of the breakaway circuit’s inaugural event at Centurion Club near St Albans last year.

He was also the man who asked for a peace meeting with the PGA Tour that led to a ‘framework’ agreement that is currently being worked on by the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF.

“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,” added Rupert. “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.”

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Slumbers, who is teaming up with Englishman Jordan Smith, was reported to have met Al-Rumayyan when attended the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool in July. Speaking that week, The R&A chief wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Saudi money being pumped into the game’s oldest major but stressed that it wouldn’t be as a title sponsor.

“If I'm very open, we are and do and continue to do, talk to various potential sponsors,” said Slumbers. “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 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.”

Uihlein, who came close to shooting the DP World Tour’s first 59 in the tournament when he carded a 12-under-par 60 ay Kingsbarns in 2013, is among four LIV Golf players playing in this week’s event, the others being Talor Gooch, Louis Oosthuizen and Laurie Canter.

in addition to the quartet having no outstanding sanctions for playing on the start-up circuit without official releases, they are all in the field at the behest of Rupert. A DP World Tour spokesperson told The Scotsman: “The players are non-members and playing on sponsors’ invites. They also have no outstanding sanctions.”



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