LIV Golf To 'Immediately Qualify' For World Ranking Points

The Greg Norman-fronted venture has entered into an alliance with the MENA Tour

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman at the second LIV Golf Invitational Series event in Portland, Oregon
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Tour has announced a strategic alliance with LIV Golf that will see it hope to qualify for Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points for its event in Thailand this week. 

The details of the announcement reveal that all LIV Golf players are considered members of the MENA Tour, which will in turn co-sanction the event at Stonehill - a new course in Bangkok in Pathum Thani province.

"We are taking this mutually beneficial action to support the game at the developmental level and because of the importance and fairness of LIV golfers qualifying for OWGR points," said Atul Khosla, the President and COO of LIV Golf.  "We’re pleased to create pathways that give more opportunities for young players, while also giving fans rankings that include all the world’s best golfers."

"This is a very exciting day for the MENA Tour and our players," said David Spencer, the MENA Tour Commissioner. "Through this alliance, our players will now have enhanced playing opportunities and stronger pathways. This is great news for the future of many young players on our Tour."

The MENA Tour has submitted details of the Bangkok field to OWGR officials, with specific details of points on offer to be confirmed. 

The OWGR released a statement on Thursday saying that no world ranking points will be awarded to LIV Golf until the review of the MENA Tour changes are complete:

The news marks a significant moment for the Greg Norman-fronted venture, which had been embroiled in an ongoing battle with the OWGR Board, which consists of PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley, and was said to be "growing impatient" at the "slow process" since it submitted its application in July. 

The MENA Tour was founded in 2011 by the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation and has been recognised by the OWGR since 2016. It has however, not staged an event following the global impact of Covid-19.

The announcement is perhaps the most significant in LIV Golf's history to date. Up until this point, the Saudi-backed circuit has been successful in luring some of the game's leading stars without the promise of ranking recognition.

For players like Cameron Smith, who has secured entry to forthcoming Majors by virtue of his Open championship success at St. Andrews, it is perhaps less significant. For others however, it is critical in order to tee it up in the four most elite tournaments in golf. 

Former Masters champion Patrick Reed emphasises the effect the on-going battle has had, having dropped out of the top-50 for the first time since 2014. The American reached a career high of World No.6 in 2020 however, his defection to LIV Golf has seen his status become increasingly precarious and he finally dropped out of the world's top-50 following his disappointing missed cut in the DP World Tour’s Open de France at Le Golf National.

Greg Norman has publicly criticised the OWGR Board's approach to LIV Golf's recognition given 48 of the best players in the world are members of the circuit. "Without LIV's inclusion, the integrity and accuracy of the rankings themselves are severely compromised," the Australian said. "The proportion of leading players in the world competing on the LIV Series means that, despite smaller fields than some existing tour events and those that took place opposite the LIV Invitational events, the [strength of field] remains highly competitive and among the top few in the industry."

With official ranking points ever closer, LIV Golf can look firmly ahead to the future - including its expansion plans for 2023, which will see it rebrand to a fully-fledged league with 48 players and 12 established team franchises competing in an inflated 14-tournament schedule and an enormous $405m total prize purse - a huge increase on the $225m on offer for this year’s eight-tournament Series.

James Hibbitt

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.