50 LIV Players have just sent Peter Dawson, Chairman of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), a letter asking for LIV Golf to be recognised by the organisation and to be granted World Ranking points. Greg Norman has said that the OWGR should fold or include LIV.
It’s understandable that LIV should want their tournaments to receive the points – The OWGR is not only an important guide to professional success, but it also provides a key route to qualification for the most significant events in the men’s professional game – The Majors and The Olympics.
There are 14 main LIV Tour events scheduled for next year, meaning the top LIV Players will likely only play 10 or so events outside of LIV – The Majors, if they get into them, a few International Series events on the Asian Tour (as their LIV contracts require) and who knows where else - a lot will depend on how the court case involving the DP World Tour pans out. If the LIV circuit is not granted points, the players will gradually fall down the ranking and not be eligible for some of the more significant events on the world calendar.
Do we want them there? These players were enticed by the huge amounts of money LIV were offering, and that was their choice. But it turns out, they also wanted to continue to play the big events, including the Majors, and they wanted to be allowed to play in and captain the Ryder Cup, others wanted to play in the Presidents Cup… What many have realised is that you can’t always have your cake and eat it. Many out there will still be of the attitude, “You’ve made your comfy bed, now try and get some sleep in it.”
But, on the flipside, the Majors and the big team events are at their best if the best players in the world participate. Without many of those who would have made the team, the Presidents Cup will be less of a spectacle. A Major that didn’t feature younger players who would have been right near the top of the World Ranking had they not gone to LIV would, inescapably, be diminished by their absence.
This is why the decision by the OWGR on whether to grant LIV points is such a crucial one. If they do, the renegade circuit will have official credibility. The decision isn’t being taken lightly, and the PGA Tour will be exerting considerable pressure. But it’s not on a “go slow” as some LIV representatives have suggested … It’s taking time because it’s a decision that’s fundamental to the future of golf.
If the OWGR grants LIV points, using whatever new-fangled calculation would be required to accommodate their limited, elite fields and reduced hole formats, then LIV will be formally established as one of the recognised circuits in world golf. More players will then be inclined to join and the Majors will have little option but to accept its legitimacy.
Deny the breakaway circuit points and the standoff will continue with more court cases, more animosity, more money-driven defections and more events damaged, as per the Presidents Cup. LIV is seemingly backed by almost unlimited funding, allowing them to continue in that standoff indefinitely, throwing money at their events, their players, their campaign for recognition. The golfing establishment must decide just how much they want to break LIV golf and to what extent they’re prepared to risk damaging men's pro golf to do that. The decision on World Ranking points will give us the answers.
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Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly.
Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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