When the impact of 2022 on the game is assessed with the benefit of sufficient distance, there is little doubt that the emergence of LIV Golf will define it.
The controversy over its funding source and the incredible riches it brings to the game have helped the Greg Norman-fronted start-up profoundly impact the more established tours. While the PGA Tour has sought to counter the LIV Golf threat with unprecedented changes, including substantially higher purses for many of its tournaments, the DP World Tour has forged a closer alliance with the PGA Tour as it, too, aims to remain a viable proposition at the top of the game’s ecosystem.
Despite those moves, LIV Golf has still persuaded some of the world’s best players to sign up. However, looking at the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) as 2022 draws to a close, you might be forgiven for thinking that the players it has attracted are not that prominent.
That’s because while LIV Golf may be able to offer unprecedented wealth to those who play on it, it can’t offer OWGR points. That means some of the best-performing players of the year find themselves languishing in the rankings. But how far have some of the first players to sign for the venture fallen?
When 2022 began, Dustin Johnson sat proudly as World No.3. The American continued the form that took him there during the year, surpassing $35m in prize money during LIV Golf’s inaugural season and captaining his 4 Aces GC team as it dominated. Nevertheless, as the year closes, Johnson is nowhere to be found in the top 40. Instead, he will end the year at World No.41.
It’s not just Johnson who has seen a dramatic fall in his OWGR. Sergio Garcia began 2022 as World No.45, but by the penultimate week of the year, he is languishing as World No.112. Kevin Na, meanwhile, has fallen from World No.29 to World No.48 over the same period, which at least ensures his eligibility for next year’s Masters.
There’s no such luck for either Ian Poulter or Lee Westwood, though. Poulter began the year just outside the all-important top 50 at World No.54 but will end it outside the top 100 and is currently World No.138. For former World No.1 Westwood, the OWGR makes for even more disturbing reading. He has slipped from World No.37 – comfortable enough to feel confident of securing a Masters invite – to World No.156 with virtually no chance.
One LIV Golf player who will compete in The Masters thanks to his world ranking is Louis Oosthuizen. It was touch and go for a while, though, until he secured a last-gasp invite. The South African will finish the year at World No.50, having started it at World No.10. And how about one of LIV Golf’s original marquee signings, Phil Mickelson? As a three-time Masters winner, Lefty can at least play Augusta National next year, but he’ll be thankful he’s not relying on his OWGR to do so, having plummeted from World No.33 as the year began to World No.209 now.
It is not just players who have been with LIV Golf from the beginning who have suffered precipitous rankings drops, either. For example, Brooks Koepka fell from World No.16 at the start of the year to World No.51 by the end after joining in time for the second tournament. Meanwhile, another who teed it up with LIV Golf for the first time in Portland, Oregon, was Patrick Reed. He hadn’t been out of the top 50 since 2014 and began the year at a creditable World No.25. He finally dropped out of the top 50 at the end of September and is currently World No.70.
Bryson DeChambeau is another who joined LIV Golf from the second tournament, but the World No.5 as the New Year rang in had become the World No.65 by the time Christmas preparations were in full swing.
There are other examples, as LIV Golf players scramble for OWGR points on other Tours as the battle to secure them for the organisation continues. There is little doubt LIV Golf has had a profound impact on the game in 2022. However, there is a nagging sense that 2023 could be defined as much by its ability to offer OWGR points as the money it continues to pour into the game.
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OWGR Changes Of Prominent LIV Players - Jan 2022 To Present
- Bryson DeChambeau - from World No.5 to World No.65
- Sergio Garcia - from World No.45 to World No.112
- Dustin Johnson - from World No.3 to World No.41
- Brooks Koepka - from World No.16 to World No.51
- Phil Mickelson - from World No.33 to World No.209
- Kevin Na - from World No.29 to World No.48
- Ian Poulter - from World No.54 to World No.138
- Patrick Reed - from World No.25 to World No.70
- Lee Westwood - from World No.37 to World No.156
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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