LIV Golf’s bid to have its players earn ranking points has been unanimously rejected by the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) due to concerns about the Saudi Arabia-backed circuit’s format.
OWGR Chairman Peter Dawson said in a letter sent on Tuesday to LIV Golf’s Chief Executive Greg Norman and Chief Operating Officer Gary Davidson, that “at this time” LIV Golf will not be recognised as an Eligible Golf Tour in the OWGR system.
LIV Golf, whose player roster includes major champions Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith, said the OWGR’s decision means the organisation can no longer deliver on its objective to rank the best players in the world.
“Professional golf is now without a true or global scoring and ranking system,” LIV Golf said in a statement. “There is no benefit for fans or players from the lack of trust or clarity as long as the best player performances are not recognized.”
Dawson said the Board Committee felt LIV Golf’s tournament format – 54-hole, no-cut events for 48 players – was an issue but added that it was one that was capable of being managed through an “appropriate mathematical formula.”
The board did not make a determination what that adjustment might be and will not do so while there are other “unresolved deficiencies” which render performance comparisons with players competing in existing OWGR Tour events extremely difficult.
The bigger concern, according to the letter, is the limited access for players to join LIV Golf which, barring injury, features the same 48 players all season.
The letter also revealed that LIV informed the OWGR in July that 14 players will be invited back next season regardless of their performance, more than double the number that LIV officials originally told the OWGR.
“Simply put, the Board Committee does not believe it is equitable to thousands of players who strive every day to get starts in OWGR Eligible Tournaments to have a tour operate in this mostly-closed fashion,” Dawson wrote.
Dawson also said the Committee remains concerned about the implications of conducting individual and team competitions simultaneously, and singled out actions and comments attributed to Sebastian Munoz during an April tournament.
Brooks Koepka led Munoz by a shot on the final hole and both were about 40 feet away for birdie. Koepka’s putt settled just over four feet from the cup before Munoz, needing a birdie to force a playoff but whose team led Koepka’s Smash unit by a stroke, lagged his putt to just inside four feet and made par.
“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 at the time. “He got the individual, we got the team. I call it a tie.”
LIV Golf applied for recognition in the rankings, which play a key role in deciding entry into golf’s four majors, in July 2022 and its players have said excluding them “undermines the historical value” of the ranking.
Critics say LIV Golf, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, amounts to “sportswashing” by a nation trying to improve its image amid criticism of its human rights record.
Dawson said OWGR invites LIV to resubmit its application should it make any modifications that impact the areas of non-conformance.
“The decision to respectfully decline LIV’s application at this time it not meant to discourage your efforts to innovate in men’s professional golf and/or cause you to make changes you may not believe to be in the best interests of your tour and events.”
According to the OWGR website, the ranking points breakdown is derived from each tournament’s total field rating and points are awarded to players who make the cut and complete an event, subject to their finishing position in the tournament.
While golf’s four majors have allowed qualified LIV Golf players to compete, those who earned exemption into the blue-riband events due to past results could one day be left out as they are not earning world ranking points.