LIV events won't get world ranking points just yet

LIV Golf's crafty attempt to obtain world ranking points for its players — using an existing tour's name and format as a way to merge into the Official World Golf Rankings system — is on hold. The OWGR is reviewing LIV's plan to align with the tiny, developmental MENA Tour for the purposes of obtaining points for LIV's tournaments, and indicated the review will not be complete in time to award points for this weekend's LIV tournament in Bangkok or next week's in Jeddah.

The MENA Tour, a developmental tour covering the Middle East and North Africa, has been a member of the OWGR since 2016, meaning players on the tour can earn ranking points for strong performances. Ranking points are the key to entering majors for players without existing exemptions like past victories.

However, LIV Golf does not yet get ranking points for its tournaments, meaning LIV players — particularly those who are younger or who have not won certain majors — have virtually no path to the majors. Although LIV's enormous paychecks, underwritten by the Saudi government's Public Investment Fund, are an attraction, many golfers also value the legacy aspect of the majors, and would like the opportunity to compete in them while playing on the LIV tour.

LIV made a formal appeal to the OWGR in July, contending that the strength of its fields — multiple major winners, including Cam Smith, the reigning winner of the Open Championship, compete on the LIV tour — made its inclusion in the rankings necessary for the good of golf. At the time, OWGR indicated that a review of its operations and a judgment on its fitness for the OWGR could take many months.

One of the key sticking points for OWGR recognition is LIV's tournament format — a limited field of 48, playing 54 holes with no cut, as opposed to the traditional large-field, 72-hole format with a cut after 36 holes.

The MENA Tour had suspended operations in 2020 during the pandemic and had not formally resumed them on its own until this week's notice that the LIV Bangkok event would be a MENA event. The tour's OWGR points are minuscule — winners received three world ranking points, as opposed to the 100 points for winning the Masters and the 42 points for winning this week's PGA Tour event.

The OWGR indicated it is in the process of reviewing MENA's changes, and "only after the review is complete will a decision be made on awarding points to the MENA Tour’s new 'Limited Field Tournaments.'"

However, the OWGR noted that "regular official MENA Tour events conducted over 54 or 72 holes with a cut after 36 holes, and its Tour Championship, typically conducted over 54 holes with no cut, remain eligible for inclusion in the OWGR." There are, at present, no other events listed on MENA's schedule.

Cam Smith and other LIV golfers will have to wait a little longer to learn whether they will receive world ranking points. (Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports)
Cam Smith and other LIV golfers will have to wait a little longer to learn whether they will receive world ranking points. (Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports)

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Contact Jay Busbee at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.