LIV Golf continues to be locked out of the Official World Golf Ranking

SUGAR GROVE, In poor health. — The winner at this weekend’s LIV Golf Invitational Sequence occasion stands to win $4 million. The last-place finisher will pocket $120,000. And all 48 golfers within the discipline will obtain the identical variety of factors within the Official World Golf Ranking: zero.

Six months after saying its first slate of occasions, LIV Golf is outwardly no nearer to gaining recognition from the OWGR, a big impediment that might have a heavy affect on the Saudi-funded breakaway collection and the way forward for the game.

There are 28 professionals on this weekend’s match exterior Chicago who additionally performed in LIV’s premier London occasion in June. All however 4 of these have steadily slid down the rankings — Phil Mickelson is down 48 spots to No. 120, for instance, whereas Sergio Garcia is down 20 spots to No. 77.

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“To have 48 of the best guys around the world playing and not to get world ranking points, I think is perhaps a little bit unfair,” Australian Cameron Smith, the world’s third-ranked golfer, mentioned just lately.

LIV Golf submitted its utility in July for recognition by OWGR, which serves as a type of doorman for the game, enjoying a key function in deciding entry into golf’s greatest tournaments. Atul Khosla, LIV’s president and chief working officer, mentioned this week the group has acquired no suggestions or updates. Outwardly, LIV officers stay hopeful, however additionally they really feel the deck is stacked towards them and concern they received’t get truthful consideration as they proceed to upend the game with large monetary offers and radical rule modifications.

“I’m hoping eventually cooler heads will prevail because it makes the best sense for the fans who just want to see the best guys compete,” Khosla mentioned.

Usually, the highest 50 or 60 gamers within the rankings are eligible to compete in majors. But when LIV gamers can’t accumulate factors, they’ll proceed to tumble down the rankings, placing them susceptible to lacking main championships and the Olympics.

There are 23 golf excursions at present acknowledged by the OWGR, and the factors accessible to gamers who make a lower and full an occasion are based mostly on the match’s energy of discipline. The method consists of two years’ price of outcomes, with latest finishes carrying extra weight.

Recognition from OWGR is important for gamers who dream of profitable majors, however it’s equally necessary for LIV Golf, which desires its gamers and its model to look on the game’s greatest phases, a mark of legitimacy for a start-up operation that has already encountered loads of turbulence.

LIV Golf submitted its utility, which ran round 20 pages, realizing its distinctive format and construction wouldn’t completely fulfill a number of criterion for recognition. Among the many points:

  • Acknowledged occasions should be 72 holes; LIV’s are 54. (Exceptions have been granted for developmental excursions, and LIV officers imagine OWGR language doesn’t make this obligatory.)
  • The enjoying discipline ought to common 75 golfers over the course of a season; the LIV discipline is capped at 48.
  • Tournaments ought to embody a 36-hole lower; LIV occasions don’t have any lower.
  • Excursions should host an open qualifying college earlier than every season; LIV has handpicked its roster of golfers, though the circuit has plans for a promotion collection, which might permit as many as 12 gamers to maneuver as much as LIV Golf occasions.
  • Excursions are supposed to carry spots for native and regional gamers. The PGA Tour, for instance, usually phases an 18-hole competitors the Monday earlier than a match, with 4 finishers advancing to the precise match. LIV has introduced no such providing, although officers say all however one among their occasions have included spots for golfers from different excursions.

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OWGR officers — who come from different golf excursions — have sometimes made exceptions, however an individual accustomed to the method mentioned no tour has acquired critical consideration with such a problematic utility. LIV officers level to language within the utility pointers that characterizes the factors as discretionary, and so they argue that they totally fulfill many of the listed calls for.

The evaluation course of usually takes one to 1½ years, and excursions should be in operation for a full 12 months earlier than OWGR will acknowledge them. Even when LIV is in the end accepted, golfers might go all of subsequent season with out accumulating factors from LIV occasions, making a steep uphill path for eligibility into upcoming majors.

Khosla mentioned LIV officers “actually feel very good about the criteria we’ve applied against, and there are enough examples where exceptions have been made on those criteria.” His considerations, he mentioned, are with the method.

The LIV utility first should be reviewed by OWGR’s technical committee, which consists of 10 members: representatives of the system’s six founding members — Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership, the PGA of America, the PGA Tour, the R&A, the USGA and the DP World Tour — plus the Japan Golf Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Asian Tour and the Sunshine Tour. That group opinions purposes, usually working with the applicant to deal with shortcomings, earlier than passing alongside a suggestion to the governing board, which incorporates the founding members and is chaired by Peter Dawson, the previous head of the R&A, one among golf’s worldwide governing our bodies. The 23 excursions acknowledged embody the game’s dominant stakeholders, alongside developmental excursions and lower-profile outfits, such because the Nordic Golf League and the All Thailand Golf Tour.

Whereas OWGR has made no public feedback on the LIV utility and a spokesman didn’t reply to a request for remark this week, lots of its members have spoken out towards LIV Golf or expressed considerations in regards to the havoc it has wreaked on the game. LIV Golf is a part of a federal antitrust lawsuit that accuses the PGA Tour and DP World Tour of orchestrating a “group boycott” and says the excursions leaned on the game’s main championships to “maximize the threats and harm.” However LIV officers stress that the mission of OWGR is to rank the world’s high golfers and {that a} system that excludes main winners based mostly on their affiliation is absurd on its face.

In an interview, Khosla mentioned the OWGR board members are “conflicted” and may’t pretty decide the LIV utility.

“For an independent board, that seems pretty absurd,” he mentioned. “It’s like if the FDA board only has five pharma companies that sit on it. So if a sixth one comes into market and has a product, the five there say what? ‘We don’t like it. It’s not getting approved.’ ”

The golfers met with LIV officers earlier than this weekend’s match and mentioned the rankings deadlock. As American Bryson DeChambeau put it: “We’re doing anything and everything to satisfy the criteria of the OWGR.”

“There will be tweaks. There will be adjustments on both ends. It’s going to have to be,” mentioned DeChambeau, who has slid from No. 28 on this planet to No. 43 since he made the leap to LIV. “This has never been done before, and there has to be compromise if we want to work effectively in this ecosystem.”

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It’s not clear how a lot LIV Golf can be keen to change its operation to fulfill OWGR officers. It has introduced plans for a full 2023 season that can embody 48 gamers competing in 14 occasions. Whereas a information launch made no point out of the 54-hole format or lower strains, it did promise “pathways for amateurs and the next generation of leading players” and “broad exemption categories so a wide spectrum of players can attempt to earn their way into the league.”

A number of LIV golfers will nonetheless be capable of compete in majors courtesy of exemptions they’ve earned from previous performances. Smith, for instance, received this 12 months’s British Open, so he can play in all majors till 2027 and has a spot locked up in future British Opens till 2053, when he turns 60. And although Mickelson has struggled his 12 months, he has lifetime exemptions into the Masters and the PGA Championship, and he can preserve enjoying within the British Open till he turns 60 in 2030.

However many different LIV golfers are dependent largely on the rankings. They might nonetheless achieve entry to the majors in different methods — the U.S. Open and British Open have qualifying occasions, for instance — or foyer the majors to amend their {qualifications} and create spots particularly for LIV golfers. In any other case, accruing factors is the surest path.

The PGA Tour has barred LIV golfers from its occasions. The DP World Tour tried doing the identical, however a decide quickly paused these efforts, pending a listening to in February.

LIV golfers can also earn factors on the Asian Tour, however OWGR’s method doesn’t reward these tournaments as handsomely because it does PGA Tour occasions. LIV Golf, which is sinking $300 million into the Asian Tour, will co-host 11 of its 2023 occasions, branded as LIV’s Worldwide Sequence, with bigger fields, a 72-hole format and a minimum of a handful of LIV golfers. (The collection is separate from LIV Golf, however LIV officers argue their full-field worldwide collection and Asian tournaments ought to function qualifying occasions of their OWGR utility.)

“We are all going to think about playing places,” Bubba Watson, one of many LIV crew captains, mentioned just lately. “Because if you play in Asia, you get world ranking points, which is sad — that you have to go and do other things to get world rankings so you can get in majors. It’s sad.”

The LIV discipline this weekend incorporates a dozen gamers who’ve received majors, and officers have been adamant in regards to the aggressive energy of their fields — and in regards to the credibility hit they are saying OWGR faces if it ignores most of the world’s high golfers.

“You can’t tell me that just because Cam is playing here today, that he’s not the second-best golfer,” Khosla mentioned. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

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