Why It’s Important to Establish the Official Golf Ranking for LIV Players

Fifty Leaf Golf signed a letter sent to the head of the world rankings of golf on Tuesday, asking the breakaway round for the world ranking points for its events.

The letter, signed by Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Kupka and Bryson DeChambeau, among others, argued that excluding LIV players “undermines the historical value of OWGR.”

“About 23 rounds have been incorporated into the OWGR world, with LIV taking its place among them,” golfers wrote to Peter Dawson, President of OWGR. “Four LIV golfers have finished (#1) in the OWGR, and one is currently (#2). The LIV roster includes 21 winners out of 51 winners from the four disciplines. The level of competition in the average LIV event equals at least that in the average PGA Tour event”.

LIV Golf applied for admission to OWGR in mid-July, but its tournaments do not currently receive Rank Points. The controversial tour includes three more events in 2022, and the next one will be held in Bangkok from October 7-9.

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Why does OWGR matter, can a LIV be included and what happens if it isn’t? Answer those questions:

What are the league criteria for ranking points?

First, OWGR essentially presents an image representing a “graded” period of 2 years (104 weeks). Ranking points for each event are derived from the total field rankings for each tournament. Ranking points are then weighted to give the full value of the last 13 weeks to focus more on recent performances.

The strength of the field rankings depends on the tournament itself. The four disciplines of golf, for example, are ranked separately and award 100 first place points, while tournament players are awarded 80 first place points.

Meanwhile, other 72-hole tournaments are subject to individual classifications. Limited field tournaments and invitations are individually reviewed by the OWGR Technical Committee and approved for inclusion by the Board of Directors. Tournaments limited to 36 holes due to bad weather or other reasons have been reduced by 75 percent.

OWGR points criteria have always been based on 72-hole events with 36-hole cut-offs, a course with over 75 players and those with qualifying play for both the round itself and each individual tournament. There are exceptions for developmental rounds.

How close is LIV to meeting the standards?

There’s a reason LIV partnered with the Asian Tour early on. This round has already been approved by OWGR and LIV is facing uphill to get there. In its current form, this is still the case.

As Tuesday’s letter makes clear, the biggest argument for LIV to be included in OWGR is not its body, but its talent. No matter what the ratings say, there is no doubt that players like Smith, Johnson and others are among the best in the world. LIV argues that by not counting their play, the ratings lack validity. It’s not a bad case, but in terms of OWGR’s criteria for ranking points awarded by how the competition is formatted, LIV is not compatible.

What are the repercussions of not getting ranking points?

A sharp drop in the rating means a loss of prestige in the world of professional golf. Ranking limits provide eligibility to play in majors. The effects are already being felt on LIV players. As noted by Tuesday’s letter from LIV to Dawson, Johnson has fallen from 13th to No. 22 in the OWGR since joining LIV, despite finishing eighth, third, second and number one in the first four LIV events.

Patrick Reed started the year in 25th. He dropped to 50th. Lee Westwood went from 37th to 100th. Louis Oosthuizen dropped from 10th to 33rd. And Phil Mickelson? He started the year at number 33. He is currently at number 128.

How strong are LIV Fields compared to other rounds?

Let’s take a look at the recent LIV event in Chicago. According to DataGolf, the event at Rich Harvest Farms will be easier for the world’s top five players to win over 31 PGA Tour events, including major events, and harder to win than PGA Tour events like the 3M Open, Mexico Open, John Deere and some field events opposite. That’s nothing, but it’s also far from on par with the PGA Tour, in terms of field strength.


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(Photo: Jimmy Sabao/USA Today)

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