Louis Oosthuizen has been ever-present in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking since 2014. However, the South African’s run has finally drawn to a close after he slipped to World No.51.
The South African will have been aware for some time that there was an air of inevitability about his fall considering his decision to sign for LIV Golf – an organisation that currently cannot offer OWGR points to its players.
This week Louis Oosthuizen dropped outside the top 50 in the world for the first time since December 2014! Interestingly enough, his 8-year continuous spell inside top 50 coincided almost perfectly with Brooks Koepka's... #OWGR pic.twitter.com/uJ8ED5pTZ5December 5, 2022
Nevertheless, It could have implications for his eligibility for next year’s Masters at Augusta National. While former champions automatically qualify for the Major, Oosthuizen’s best performance was a runner-up finish in 2012. Another way to qualify is to sit in the world’s top 50 on the last day of the calendar year, something that Oosthuizen can no longer rely on.
Given that he is suspended from PGA Tour events following his defection to LIV Golf, his chances of climbing back into the top 50 are limited, although he has a chance this week as he plays in the DP World Tour's Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Oosthuizen isn’t the first high-profile player to slip outside the top 50 since joining LIV Golf, either. In September, Patrick Reed’s eight-year spell in the top 50 also ended. Unlike Oosthuizen, though, Reed, who is now World No.67, is still eligible for next year’s Masters as he won the Green Jacket in 2018.
One Major Oosthuizen will be able to compete in - assuming no changes are made to the eligibility criteria - is next July’s Open Championship. That’s because he won the tournament in 2010 with his only Major victory to date. However, whether he will appear in the PGA Championship and US Open remains to be seen given he is not a former champion of either tournament.
Interestingly, Oosthuizen’s fall in the rankings closely mirrors that of another big-name LIV Golf player, Brooks Koepka. The American is currently World No.48, having also entered the world’s top 50 in 2014. However, he is eligible for all four of next year's Majors thanks to his wins in the PGA Championship and the US Open in the last five years.
The difficulty facing Oosthuizen and other LIV Golf players further highlights what many see as a flawed OWGR system, with questions raised as to its eligibility when some of the world’s best players, including World No.3 Cameron Smith, are unable to capitalise fully by earning points with LIV Golf.
In October, former pro Mike Clayton suggested scrapping the OWGR altogether and redrawing the criteria for Major qualification. He had several suggestions for how that can be done, saying: “Top 40 PGA Tour, top 20 DP World Tour, top five to 10 LIV, top two Japan. Winners of big tournaments – take your pick. Canadian Open, Australian, British PGA, Irish Open, Memorial, Players... winners past 10 years. Masters can do what they want.”
In the meantime, LIV Golf is seeking ways to earn OWGR eligibility. In September, 50 of its players signed a letter pleading with OWGR chairman Peter Dawson to grant it eligibility. It also formed a strategic alliance with the developmental MENA Tour in an effort to qualify for OWGR points, but so far its efforts have been in vain.
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Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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