LIV Golf Denied World Ranking Points, Raises Questions about Equity and Format

The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) board rejects LIV Golf’s application, citing the inability to measure the 48-man league fairly against other tours. This decision sparks debates on the format and equity of the LIV Golf League.

The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) board has rejected LIV Golf’s application to be eligible for world ranking points. LIV Golf, a Saudi-backed league featuring 48 players competing in 54-hole, no-cut events, had sought inclusion in the OWGR system. However, the OWGR board determined that the league’s format and lack of turnover did not allow for equitable ranking compared to other tours around the world. This decision has raised questions about the fairness of the ranking system and the future of the LIV Golf League.

Technical Challenges in Ranking LIV Golf Players

The OWGR board, led by chairman Peter Dawson, emphasized that the decision was based on technical considerations rather than political factors. Dawson stated that LIV Golf players were undoubtedly talented enough to be ranked but highlighted the challenge of measuring their performance in a closed-shop format. The league’s lack of a 36-hole cut and limited turnover among players presented significant obstacles in aligning LIV Golf with other tours worldwide.

Closed-Shop Format and Lack of Turnover

One of the primary concerns raised by the OWGR committee was the closed-shop nature of LIV Golf. Unlike most tours, which have a turnover rate of 20% to 25%, LIV Golf retains the same 48 players throughout the season, with alternates available in case of injury. This lack of turnover, coupled with the league’s practice of signing players to lucrative contracts guaranteeing their spot on the roster regardless of performance, presented a challenge for the OWGR in assessing ranking points fairly.

Impact on Players and League Credibility

The absence of world ranking points has had a significant impact on LIV Golf players and the league’s overall credibility. Several players who joined LIV Golf were suspended by the PGA Tour and European Tour, leaving them with limited opportunities to earn ranking points outside of the majors. As a result, LIV Golf’s presence in the world rankings has dwindled, with only two players, Cameron Smith and Brooks Koepka, currently ranked in the top 50. This decline has led LIV Golf players to question the credibility of the OWGR without offering them ranking points.

Concerns over Team Aspect and Relegation

The OWGR committee also raised concerns about the team aspect of LIV Golf. A notable incident involving Sebastián Muñoz at a LIV Golf event in Florida highlighted the potential conflict between individual and team interests. Muñoz, with a chance to force a playoff, chose to lag his putt to secure a par and protect his team’s one-shot lead. The committee expressed reservations about such moments and emphasized the need for objective access to LIV Golf and the relegation of players based on performance.

Future Prospects and Commercial Partnerships

While LIV Golf has the option to reapply for inclusion in the OWGR system, the board has made it clear that turnover, objective access, and relegation are crucial factors in considering ranking points. Additionally, the PGA Tour, European Tour, and LIV Golf’s Saudi backers, the Public Investment Fund, are working on a commercial partnership that includes evaluating the future of team golf. These discussions will likely play a role in shaping the league’s format and potential eligibility for world ranking points.

The OWGR’s decision to deny LIV Golf world ranking points has sparked debates about the fairness of the ranking system and the league’s format. While acknowledging the talent of LIV Golf players, the OWGR board emphasized the challenge of measuring their performance in a closed-shop format. The lack of turnover and concerns over the team aspect further complicated the assessment of ranking points. As LIV Golf seeks a solution, the future of the league and its potential inclusion in the OWGR system remain uncertain.