World Golf Ranking Board Rejects LIV Golf

The Official World Golf Ranking has rejected LIV Golf’s application to earn ranking points, citing concerns about the league’s format and limited access.

The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) has rejected LIV Golf’s application to earn ranking points. This decision could have significant implications for the players associated with the Saudi Arabia-backed golf league, including major champions like Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, and Australia’s highest-ranked golfer, Cameron Smith.

LIV Golf had sought to have its players earn ranking points, which would help them qualify for golf’s prestigious major tournaments. However, the OWGR raised several concerns about the format and structure of LIV Golf’s events, ultimately leading to the rejection of their application.

Fairness and Meritocracy
The OWGR stated that LIV Golf’s lack of player turnover and the format of its tournaments, featuring 54-hole, no-cut events for a fixed group of 48 players, did not align with the principles of fairness and meritocracy on which the OWGR system is based. In response to this, the OWGR noted, “The current structure is not consistent with the underlying principles of fairness and meritocracy.”

Interestingly the board also referred to comments made by Sebastian Munoz at a LIV Golf tournament in April indicating a compromise that can take place when individual and team events take place in parallel. Munoz had a chance to win the event but by being too aggressive he may have jeopardised his team’s chances of winning.

“It’s weird, because I knew we were one stroke ahead on the team, so I couldn’t go extra. I knew I couldn’t be too aggressive,” Munoz said after his team won the event. “He (Koepka) got the individual, we got the team. I call it a tie.”

Limited Access and Closed Structure
One of the major concerns raised by the OWGR was the limited access for players to join LIV Golf, as the league maintains the same 48-player roster throughout the season, with 14 players guaranteed to return next season regardless of their performance. This closed-shop approach was deemed inequitable to thousands of players who strive to earn starts in OWGR eligible events.

A Non-Political Decision
The OWGR emphasized that its decision was entirely technical and not political. Despite the ongoing tension between LIV Golf and other golf tours, including the PGA Tour, the OWGR maintained that its decision was based on objective criteria related to the format, access, and fairness of the LIV Golf events. “We are not at war with them,” clarified OWGR Chair Peter Dawson. “This decision not to make them eligible is not political. It is entirely technical.”

What Lies Ahead
The rejection of LIV Golf’s application means that its players will not earn ranking points through the OWGR system, potentially impacting their eligibility for major tournaments. This decision could also affect the long-term prospects of LIV Golf and its merger with the PGA Tour, which has been a topic of discussion.

The Future for LIV Golf Players
For players associated with LIV Golf, the road to major tournaments becomes more challenging, as a top OWGR ranking is a crucial avenue for gaining entry. However, there is still hope for these players to return to the PGA Tour if the proposed merger becomes official by the end of 2023.

Australia Cameron Smith, currently the highest-ranked LIV Golf member at 15th in the OWGR, may face challenges in achieving his Olympic aspirations for the Paris 2028 Games due to the rejection of ranking points. As projections indicate a potential drop in his ranking, Smith is actively working to secure ranking points in upcoming events starting with the Australian PGA Championship and Australian Open in late 2023.

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