LIV Golf will not receive Official World Golf Ranking points after the OWGR turned down the organization’s formal request, sending a letter to LIV today explaining the decision.
Global Golf Post was able to review a copy of the letter in advance of today’s announcement.
In the letter to LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman and chief operating officer Gary Davidson which was sent at 9 a.m. EDT Tuesday, OWGR president Peter Dawson wrote: “The Board Committee met recently to again review your OWGR submission in light of your latest responses to the Committee’s questions and concerns. At the meeting, the Board Committee unanimously determined that at this time the LIV Tour will not be recognised as an Eligible Golf Tour in the OWGR system.”
Speaking with GGP on Tuesday morning after the letter had been delivered to LIV, Dawson said the decision was based on established guidelines.
“This is entirely technical. OWGR has no hostility toward LIV whatsoever,” Dawson said via telephone.
World-ranking points have been a source of contention since LIV Golf’s inception in 2022. As the new golf league was recruiting players, part of its sales pitch was the assurance that LIV events would qualify for ranking points, which are critical for most players to qualify for major championships.
LIV did not officially contact the OWGR about qualifying for points until after it had played its second event in 2022, Dawson said.
LIV Golf will play the penultimate event of its 2023 schedule – LIV Golf Jeddah – on October 13-15 before concluding its second season in Miami next weekend.
Dawson acknowledged that the current ranking system suffers because LIV players do not qualify for points outside of major championships.
“It diminishes the rankings if players like D.J. [Dustin Johnson] and Bryson DeChambeau are not included. It would also diminish the ranking if the ranking rigor were reduced to include them,” Dawson said.
“The important point is, this is not about the players. LIV players are self-evidently good enough to be ranked; there is no doubt about that. This is about, should a tour whose formats are so different and whose qualification criteria are so different, can they be ranked equitably with other tours who conform to the OWGR norm and have more competition to them than perhaps the closed shop that is LIV?”
Brooks Koepka, who won the PGA Championship in May, is ranked No. 18 and is the only LIV player among the top 60. Patrick Reed (62), Joaquin Niemann (64), Mito Pereira (79) and Abraham Ancer (92) are the only other LIV players among the top 100.
Without the ability to earn ranking points outside the major championships, Johnson has fallen to 121st and Sergio García 375th.
After months of deliberation and multiple communications with officials from LIV, the OWGR made its decision recently after receiving an email from LIV on August 28 which provided clarification to some questions raised by the OWGR committee.
The OWGR cited two “broad areas” for declining the LIV request: The tournament format, which includes 54-hole, no-cut events for 48 players; and the limited access for players to join LIV, limited relegation for players who underperform and the emphasis on team competition.
In the letter, Dawson said changes to LIV’s tournament model could lead the OWGR to reconsider its decision but did not offer specific guidelines, writing: “The Board Committee has not made a specific determination what that adjustment might be and will not do so while there are other unresolved deficiencies which render the performance comparisons with players playing in existing OWGR Tour events extremely difficult.”
Regarding the limited amount of turnover among qualified LIV players, the OWGR letter said LIV informed the board on July 27 that 14 players will be invited back regardless of their performance, more than double what LIV officials originally told the OWGR. Also, as few as four players (three from the LIV Promotions Event and one from the Asian Tour International Series) may join LIV in 2024 with the other participants selected by LIV management.
That is a major sticking point, Dawson said Tuesday.
“Some of the format issues – 54 holes, no cut, 48 players – is capable of being dealt with mathematically in the system,” Dawson said. “Things that can’t be are team golf and individual golf [together].
“But the main one is qualification and relegation criteria that apply. With contracts and team captains, there are many ways to stay on the LIV tour even if you are not playing well.
“If LIV could find a way to come up with a more open competition style and relegation, we would certainly consider that. There should be many more vacancies than perhaps there are. I don’t think it’s fair to the other 24 eligible tours and the thousands of players trying to get a start each week.”
“We are not here to say that OWGR criteria are the only way to play. We have to change and be flexible and do what’s best.” – Peter Dawson
Dawson also suggested LIV can succeed without being part of the OWGR structure.
“The decision to respectfully decline LIV’s application at this time is 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. The Board Committee recognises that different formats of golf can be exciting for players and fans and inclusion in the OWGR system is not necessary to grow a new, different approach,” Dawson wrote.
In a letter to LIV players obtained by ESPN last year, Norman wrote, “Without LIV’s inclusion, the integrity and accuracy of the rankings themselves are severely compromised. We trust the members of the Governing Board of OWGR will understand and appreciate this key consideration, and that they will treat this development with the respect it deserves and consistent with their responsibilities as directors of the Official World Golf Rankings and the duties that attend those directorships.”
The OWGR has an eight-member governing board including Dawson as well as PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley. Monahan and Pelley were not involved in decisions regarding LIV Golf receiving ranking points, Dawson said.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, LIV criticized the decision and questioned the validity of the Official World Golf Ranking.
“OWGR’s sole objective is to rank the best players across the globe,” the statement read. “Today’s communication makes clear that it can no longer deliver on that objective.
“Players have historically remained subject to a single world ranking to qualify for Major Championships, the biggest events, and for corporate sponsor contract value. A ranking which fails to fairly represent all participants, irrespective of where in the world they play golf, robs fans, players and all of golf’s stakeholders of the objective basis underpinning any accurate recognition of the world’s best player performances. It also robs some traditional tournaments of the best fields possible.
“Professional golf is now without a true or global scoring and ranking system. 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. “LIV will continue to strive to level set the market so fans, broadcasters, and sponsors have the assurance of an independent and objective ranking system and the pure enjoyment of watching the best golf in the world.”
Dawson acknowledged in the interview that the OWGR needs to discuss the format of some PGA Tour events as they relate to receiving points and that the potential agreement between the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund also could affect the rankings system.
Dawson also sounded a conciliatory tone toward LIV.
“We are not here to say that OWGR criteria are the only way to play,” he said. “We have to change and be flexible and do what’s best.
“It’s very unfortunate. We are now ranking players who play on tours that conform to OWGR criteria. That means some players aren’t being ranked playing LIV events. That’s diminishing the rankings. No doubt about that. We need to get it fixed.”
© 2023 Global Golf Post LLC
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Tell us how we can improve this post?