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NEWPORT, RI: Lee Westwood wants the powers that be in golf to stop fighting so players like him can get back on the course where fans want them.

Two-time Masters runner-up and former golfer no. The world No. 1 is at Newport Country Club this week for the US Senior Open, making his over-50 tour debut a year late, in part because of the PGA Tour ban. LIV Golf deserters.

Westwood, 51, received an invitation to the Senior Open, which is run by the USGA, as a recent participant in the Ryder Cup. Richard Bland also earned an invitation to win the PGA Senior Championship. The only other LIV golfer over 50 is Phil Mickelson.

“At the end of the day, we’re in the entertainment business,” Westwood said Tuesday after a practice round at the course at the mouth of Narragansett Bay.

“Regardless of the level of golf, I think if the best players at every level don’t come together and play, there’s only one loser, and that’s the fans watching,” he said. “We have to somehow find a way to get the best players to play against each other more often.”

Westwood moved up to the no. 1 in 2010 after finishing in the top three in four of the previous five majors. This ended Tiger Woods’ record 281-week streak as the world’s top golfer; the Englishman held the #1 spot for 22 weeks.

Although Westwood never won a major, he finished in the top five a dozen times.

It seems like the perfect candidate for a tournament that was designed to give fans another chance to root for their favorites. But PGA Tour policy is that LIV golfers must wait one year after their last appearance on the Saudi-backed circuit to play in PGA Tour or PGA Tour Champions events.

In addition, the European Tour fined Westwood £850,000 – more than $1 million – a fine he reiterated on Tuesday that he does not intend to pay. “We’re going to have to find a way around that,” he said.

“On any level, it’s disappointing that they can’t work it out,” Westwood said. “The Champions Tour for me is important because people have seen me play and other guys here play for the last 30, 40 years and build relationships with those players and see us grow as players and people.

“Yeah, people want to see the young guys, the new kids on the block come up and compete,” he said. “But they also want to see the guys they’ve bonded with over the last 30, 40 years.”

Westwood is coming off a tie for third at last week’s LIV event outside Nashville, Tenn. – a season-best finish. He said he didn’t feel he needed a strong performance at Newport to make his point.

“Everybody I talked to said it was great to see me and Richard playing here,” Westwood said, adding that he thought Bryson DeChambeau’s win at LIV at the US Open was good for the sport.

“It’s basically getting all the best players together in one tournament to compete against each other and that’s what you want at the highest level,” Westwood said. “You want all the best players there.”

One of the USGA’s five charter members, the 7,024-yard, par-70 Newport Country Club was originally scheduled to host the Senior Open in 2020, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been looking forward to this event for a few years now,” said Ernie Els, a four-time major champion who has five wins on the senior tour. “I’ve been looking forward to welcoming him in 2020 and I’m glad he’s here now.”

Golfers coming out for practice rounds said the seaside course reminded them of a British-style course, especially with the way the wind has such a big effect on the game. On Tuesday morning, the wind was in their faces on the first tee; by afternoon, it had oscillated around 180 degrees.

“We played with some strong winds yesterday and some different winds today,” said Brett Quigley, a Rhode Island native and unofficial tournament host of sorts. “It will play significantly differently depending on the wind direction. That will be part of the big challenge.”

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