December 8, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Golfers criticize ‘almost obsolete’ LIV OWGR after ruling

Golfers criticize ‘almost obsolete’ LIV OWGR after ruling

Cameron Smith has described golf’s official world rankings system as “almost obsolete” after its governing body voted unanimously not to award world ranking points to golfers for their finishes in LIV Golf League tournaments.

Smith was ranked second in the world after winning The Open in St. Andrews in July 2022. He left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf about two months later and fell to 15th in the world.

“I think it’s almost obsolete now,” Smith told reporters Wednesday in Saudi Arabia, where LIV Golf will play its final regular-season event at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club starting Friday. “We have some players here who play some of the best golf in the world and are outside the top 100 or 200 players in the world. It’s ridiculous.”

Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson, who was LIV Golf’s inaugural singles champion in 2022, questioned whether OWGR is still the best way to rank players.

“I feel like you can’t really use the rankings system anymore,” Johnson said. “That’s my take on it. It’s hard to use the world ranking system if you’re excluding 48 good players. The rankings are skewed. It doesn’t really affect me as much as it affects some other players. I want points for the rest of the players.”

OWGR President Peter Dawson sent a letter to LIV Golf Commissioner Greg Norman and Director of Operations Gary Davidson on Tuesday, informing them that the Board of Directors had voted not to recognize the LIV Golf League as a qualifying tour in the OWGR system.

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The letter said the board has concerns about the low player turnover at LIV Golf and the limited paths for other players to join. She also cited concerns about some of the team aspects of LIV Golf, in which players compete in individual and team events simultaneously over 54 holes.

The PGA Tour and DP World Tour have suspended players who participated in LIV Golf tournaments without issuing conflicting events. Many LIV Golf players quit those tours.

The governing bodies of the Big Four, Augusta National Golf Club, PGA of America, United States Golf Association and the R&A, have continued to allow LIV Golf players to compete in majors if they are eligible. Some players, including Johnson and Smith, qualified for the majors by being former champions. Others received exemptions through their world rankings, which will be more difficult in the future.

Smith and five-time major champion Brooks Koepka (No. 18) are the only LIV golfers currently ranked in the top 50 in the world. Six LIV golfers are ranked in the top 100.

“It’s obviously disappointing,” Patrick Reed said. “Until the actual world rankings reflect the actual best players in the world, to me it’s just a broken system. Just because we’re playing on a different tour, it shouldn’t matter.”

As it stands, Reed is only eligible to play in the Masters as a former champion in 2024. Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel also have lifetime exemptions to play at Augusta National Golf Club in April as past winners.

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Koepka, who notched his fifth major win at the PGA Championship in May, will have a five-year exemption on all four through 2028. Smith can play on all four until 2027, Mickelson until 2026, and Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau are exempt until 2028. 2025.

DeChambeau, who captured the 2020 US Open, suggested allowing the top 12 players from LIV Golf’s long points race to enter the majors next year.

“For DJ, Cam, Brooks and those guys, who I understand are exempt from the majors probably for the foreseeable future, this doesn’t last forever,” England’s Richard Bland said. “And not allowing these players to play in major tournaments is not right.

“It doesn’t matter where you play golf. The world rankings should show that, and it doesn’t. I don’t know how you can get around that. It’s disappointing because you’re just robbing the golf fans that, maybe in a few years, the best players will be playing in tournaments.” Big, that’s how it should be.”