Which LIV Golfers Are Exempt For Future Majors?

Qualifying for Majors through ranking points has become tougher, but previous triumphs currently guarantee these players' places

Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith are all recent Major winners now signed with LIV Golf
(Image credit: Getty Images)

LIV Golf will be well represented at future Majors despite the ongoing disagreement over world golf ranking points - as long as there are no further rule changes.

Events on the LIV Golf Invitational Series don’t currently qualify for ranking points, meaning those playing there have been sliding down the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), though Greg Norman has appealed to OWGR, telling them it would be “wrong” not to include LIV events. An examination of LIV Golf's application for ranking points began in the week of The 150th Open and there is hope that points will be allocated, but as it stands LIV’s players are sinking down the standings.

Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka have fallen to 22nd and 26th in the world respectively, having been top 20 players when they signed, while Phil Mickelson is now outside the top 100. This tumble down the rankings is set to all but close the door on LIV players qualifying for Majors through their world ranking (depending on the event, the top 50 or 60 ranked players are invited), but for some, including Johnson, Koepka and Mickelson that shouldn’t matter, as they are previous Major winners and therefore exempt.

The current rules see any Major winner exempt for five years for all four tournaments. In addition, Masters winners are exempt at Augusta National for life, the same perk as PGA Championship winners get for its future events. Open champions are exempt until they’re 60-years-old, while US Open winners get an invite for the next 10 years.

As Major winners in the past five years, Cameron Smith, Mickelson, Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Koepka and Patrick Reed should be at all next year’s Majors. Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwatzel join Mickelson, Johnson and Reed in having lifetime invites to the Masters as former champions, while Mickelson, Koepka and Martin Kaymer can play the PGA Championship for life. Smith, Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Louis Oosthuizen have Open berths until they’re 60, and Johnson, Koepka, DeChambeau and Kaymer will be invited to the US Open. In all, the winners of 12 of the last 26 Majors are now LIV players.



Cameron Smith poses with the Claret Jug

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the 2022 Open champion, the Australian has an exemption for all Majors until 2027, and to the Open itself until he’s 60 in August 2053.


Phil Mickelson smiling during the LIV Golf Invitational Bedminster

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lefty’s most recent Major win, in last year’s PGA Championship, gives him exemption until 2026. The six-time Major champion has lifetime exemptions for the Masters as well as the PGA Championship, and at the Open until he turns 60, in June 2030.


Dustin Johnson plays a tee shot during the second round of the 2022 US Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

DJ won the 2020 Masters, so is exempt until 2025 for all Majors, and for life at Augusta National. The 2016 US Open winner is also exempt there until 2026.


Bryson DeChambeau takes a shot during the pro-am before the Bedminster LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bryson won his only Major at the 2020 US Open, meaning he is exempt through 2025 for all Majors, and until 2030 in that tournament.


Brooks Koepka in a practice round before the 2022 US Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Koepka won his fourth Major at the 2019 PGA Championship, making him exempt until 2024, and for life in that tournament. His most recent US Open win, in 2018, makes him exempt there until 2028.


Patrick Reed competes in the third LIV Golf Invitational Series event at Bedminster

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Reed won the Masters in 2018, meaning he is exempt at all four Majors next year, and for life at Augusta National.


Sergio Garcia pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 2017 Masters champion is exempt for life at Augusta.


Stenson looks on

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Swede won the 2016 Open, giving him an invite there until he turns 60 in April 2036.


Watson waves to the crowd

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bubba is a two-time Masters winner, giving him an invite for life to Augusta National. He won the tournament in 2012 and 2014.


Martin Kaymer pulls the headcover off his driver

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The German has an exemption at the US Open next year, as the 2014 champion, and the PGA Championship for life, having won that in 2010.


Charl Schwartzel poses with the winner's trophy after the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The winner of the first LIV event has one Major to his name, the 2011 Masters, giving him a lifetime invite to Augusta.


Louis Oosthuizen takes a shot during the second round of the 2022 US Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen’s finest moment was winning the 2010 Open Championship, giving him exemption there until October 2042. He’s finished runner-up in all other Majors, but so far has only actually won one.


Abraham Ancer takes a shot

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Mexican's T9th at this year's PGA Championship ensures he earns his spot into next year's event at Oak Hill.

Joaquin Niemann

Niemann hits a tee shot with a driver

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Chilean qualifies for The Masters, US Open and The Open as things stand after making the season-ending Tour Championship on the PGA Tour.

Of course, there is still the possibility that the rules could change, and champions who won exemptions or lifetime invites could see those taken away, something Bubba Watson has discussed. The two-time Masters champion, who has yet to tee it up for LIV Golf but makes his debut in Boston this week as the non-playing captain of the Niblicks GC team, said that if the rules change and his lifetime exemption is revoked, he won’t want to go anyway as it will be so wrong.

The R&A confirmed in July that it is not planning on banning LIV players from Open Championship, with chief executive Martin Slumbers saying, “We will hold totally true to The Open being open to anybody”.

LIV players can still technically qualify via the world ranking route, as they are still able to earn points on other tours, such as the DP World Tour - while they’re still allowed to play there - and the Asian Tour. However, the new points format is so skewed towards PGA Tour events that that is much more difficult.

Golf legend Gary Player told LIV players they shouldn’t expect to be able to play in Majors. He told BBC 5 Live: “Look, I don't blame players for going on the LIV Tour. Let them go! If they want to go, they're going. But the PGA Tour is still the tour of the world. This is where you can realise and fulfil your dreams, and be a champion.

"But when they go, they've declared war on the PGA Tour. They must not expect to play Ryder Cup, and Presidents Cup, play in the Majors and all those things. You can't have your cake and eat it. That's the bed you've chosen, that's the bed you've got to lie in.”

Another way to qualify for one of the Majors, specifically the PGA Championship, is to play in the most recent Ryder Cup team and be ranked inside the world's top 100. This means that Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger would qualify for the event at Oak Hill if they are ranked inside the top 100 a week before the event gets underway.

Jeff Kimber
Freelance Staff Writer

Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!