SUGAR GROVE, Ill. — The leaders of LIV Golf are growing impatient in the process that would potentially lead to the awarding of world ranking points to the players competing in its tournaments.
A source close to the situation told Sports Illustrated that LIV Golf officials feel they are “being slow played” by the Official World Golf Ranking, a non-profit entity that administers the program by which golfers around the world are ranked.
The LIV Golf Invitational Series — which next year will transition to the LIV Golf League — is playing its fifth event this week outside of Chicago. None of its players have received any world ranking points for competing in any of the previous events and there is no timetable for when — or even if — the controversial circuit will ever see its tournaments awarded points.
And that can potentially be a problem for players who are competing in LIV events who want to play in future major championships. All of the majors, to some degree, use the OWGR as a way to help determine their fields. (The Masters and the British Open have top-50 cutoffs; the PGA typically invites those in the top 100 not otherwise in the field; and the US Open has top-60 cutoffs).
While LIV Golf “hopes for a resolution” it has so far not been given any feedback as to where its formal application stands and believes that while sometimes the process can take a year, such an edict should not apply in this case.
“That is designed for a developmental tour, to see how the various aspects of that tour work, to see the level of play,” the source said. “It’s not designed so they can determine whether or not Dustin Johnson is a good golfer.”
No LIV Golf executives would comment Friday at Rich Harvest Farms, site of the tournament that concludes Sunday.
But last month, CEO and commissioner Greg Norman sent a letter to LIV players updating them on the OWGR situation, writing: “By any fair, objective, and impartial review, LIV players should be included in the awarded OWGR points system in the very near future. This is not only in the best interests of LIV Golf, but importantly also necessary for the integrity, accuracy and fairness of the rankings to be upheld. Anything less, in our judgment, would reflect an abdication of the OWGR Governing Board’s responsibilities as the leading standard-setting and ratings organization in golf.”
The OWGR does not comment on the application process nor on any aspect of the system. The OWGR has been in existence since 1986 and recently underwent a change that better reflects the strength of the field of various tournaments. More than 20 worldwide tours receive world ranking points, some of them obscure, developmental circuits.
The board of the OWGR consists of a governing board headed by chairman Peter Dawson, the former CEO of the R&A.
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The others on the board are PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan; DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley; Keith Waters, who represents the International Federation of PGA Tours; and the heads of all four major championships — Fred Ridley, Masters chairman; Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA and Martin Slumbers, CEO of the R&A.
LIV Golf has said previously it believes that Monahan and Pelley should recuse themselves from any discussions on the subject due to their respective tours’ stances on LIV Golf.
According to the letter Norman sent to LIV players, the OWGR regulations consist of 14 criteria. But a key component of the handbook also says that a tour seeking accreditation can attain it without meeting all the criteria; likewise, it can be denied even if it does meet the criteria.
LIV Golf acknowledged that it does not check all of the boxes for the criteria, one of which is that it does not have 36-hole cuts. Norman, in his letter to the players, countered that “many leading, limited-field events on the eligible golf tours do not include cuts after 36 holes, including the Tour Championship, the DP World Tour Championship, the World Golf Championships, and the Hero (World) Challenge. Players competing in these events are routinely awarded OWGR points.”
When it was pointed out that all of those tournaments are contested on tours that have a predominance of events with 36-hole cuts, the source said: “How does that matter for that particular event? The points are awarded based on who is in that tournament that week and not on what the other tournaments are doing.”
Norman cited LIV’s relationship with the International Series under the Asian Tour banner as a reason why a criteria for an average of 75-player fields would be met. Those tournaments have 144 players, several of whom compete in LIV events.
Other criteria include holding an open qualifying tournament (LIV Golf is calling theirs a Promotions Event) and ensuring that at least five players can qualify for the Tour that is sponsoring its application. That means there needs to be an avenue for LIV players to compete on the Asian Tour, which Norman said would be afforded to the top five points earnings on the LIV circuit.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated two weeks ago, Phil Mickelson suggested that the current rankings are not viable without LIV players being included.
“Given how many great players are a part of LIV, for LIV events to not have world ranking points would totally undermine the world ranking system,” Mickelson said. “And would force a new world ranking system to come about that was credible. I believe that the world golf rankings organization (OWGR) realizes that and will give world ranking points to LIV events.”
That remains to be seen. It is unclear if LIV Golf would be willing to make changes to its system to better comply, such as adding a 36-hole cut or increasing its field size.
But the organization believes it should be receiving points now. Asked if the hope was to get them at the beginning of the 2023 season, the source said: “Certainly by then, if not now” and that LIV believes points should be granted “retroactively to the first event,” in June.