[PHOTO: Asanka Ratnayake]
With questions about how LIV Golf’s league structure meshed with the Official World Golf Ranking’s requirements for certification known for months, news that the upstart circuit’s bid for recognition was officially turned down last week was not surprising. Nor was the criticism from LIV players and officials over the decision, many disparaging the legitimacy of the OWGR moving forward if it couldn’t find a way to include its pros.
No doubt the decision will impact LIV golfers moving forward—specifically those who lean on their OWGR ranking to qualify for major championships. Already their LIV players’ collective places on the OWGR have dropped precipitously during 2023 as LIV members have played in only a handful of events that would earn them OWGR points.
But just how precipitously have they fallen? Well, take a look at Talor Gooch, who won finished second at last weekend’s regular-season LIV finale in Saudi Arabia. That finish allowed Gooch to claim LIV Golf’s individual points standings title (and a $US18 million bonus) after collecting three wins during the LIV season. Yet none of those events counted towards his OWGR status, and his performance in the men’s majors was not at the same level. So on Monday when the latest world ranking list was revealed, Gooch found himself 201st in the OWGR after having been ranked as high as 31st last year and 40th at the end of 2022.
And the other player? Patrick Reed, who benefitted from making the cut in all four majors and top-20 finishes at the Masters and PGA Championship. He jumped from 72nd to 64th.
We ran the numbers for all 50 people listed on the LIV Golf points standings and the average OWGR place on Monday was 408.76 with just six golfers currently inside the top 100. Again, that’s the biggest issue regarding the OWGR drop. The Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship all save spots for top players via the OWGR (and, indirectly, the PGA Championship as well). That is how more than a dozen LIV golfers—including Gooch—qualified to play in the four majors this year—and why several LIV golfers called for the majors to create a new exemption category from the LIV points list to help fill the gap that will be created by not being part of the OWGR system moving forward.