GOLF

Greg Norman’s Letter to Golfers Says LIV Series Should Receive Official World Golf Ranking Points

ADVERTISEMENT

In a letter sent to LIV golfers on Wednesday, CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman said the new Tour “by all fair, objective and impartial review” should be awarded Official World Golf Ranking points for its events in the future. very close.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, Norman wrote that LIV Golf’s inclusion in the World Rankings point system is “necessary for the integrity, accuracy and fairness” of the rankings.

ADVERTISEMENT

LIV Golf officials submitted their bid to the OWGR in mid-July and it was discussed by the OWGR technical committee at the 150th Open Championship in St. Andrews, according to Norman.

“Without the inclusion of LIV, the integrity and accuracy of the rankings themselves are severely compromised,” Norman wrote. “We hope that the members of the OWGR Board of Directors will understand and appreciate this key consideration, and that they will treat this development with the respect it deserves and in accordance with their responsibilities as directors of the official world rankings of golf course and the resulting duties. directions.”

LIV Golf players did not receive OWGR World Ranking points for the first three events of the new circuit in London; Portland, Oregon; and Bedminster, New Jersey.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who has suspended players for playing LIV golf tournaments without posting a conflicting event, is one of eight members of the OWGR’s board of governors. Other members include DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley, USGA CEO Mike Whan, R&A General Manager Martin Slumbers, PGA of America Executive Director Seth Waugh, Augusta National Executive Director Golf Club Will Jones and Keith Waters, which represents the International Federation of PGA Tours.

In the letter, Norman noted that based on the OWGR system in place at the time, the first three LIV events would have had better field strengths than two competing tournaments on the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic. .

Several former great champions, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson, left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, financed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

“The proportion of world-leading players competing on the LIV Series means that, despite smaller fields than some existing tour events and those that took place opposite LIV Invitational events, the [strength of field] remains highly competitive and among the best in the business,” Norman wrote.

According to data from LIV Golf, the winners of its first three events would have risen significantly in the world rankings had they earned OWGR points. For example, South African Charl Schwartzel, the first winner in London, would have gone from 125th to 85th. Branden Grace, who was first in Portland, would have dropped from 128th to 78th, and Henrik Stenson, winner at Bedminster, would have dropped from 173rd to 80th.

Schwartzel is currently ranked 121st in the OWGR, Grace is 139th and Stenson is 176th.

World Ranking Points are used to determine byes and fields for the majors: The Masters, PGA Championship, US Open and The Open.

“These moves (along with others that may have taken place) are important not only because of their effect on players’ personal endorsements and playing opportunities (i.e. major byes), but also for the accuracy and credibility of the OWGR itself,” Norman wrote. .

“Not including player performance against these industry leaders [LIV] fields, OWGRs are now imprecise. If this continues much longer, the rankings will become even more inaccurate and marginalized, with many LIV Golf players having lower rankings than they are rightfully entitled to, as well as non-LIV Golf players enjoying falsely enhanced rankings. Simply put, it will be impossible to consider the OWGR ratings accurate or even relevant if the OWGR persists in omitting 48 of the world’s best golfers.”

Johnson, a former world No. 1 golfer, fell from 13th to 21st, his worst position since 2015, when he joined LIV Golf. Koepka dropped from 19th to 25th and Reed dropped from 38th to 49th. Mickelson, a six-time major winner, started the year ranked 34th in the world but is now 104th.

There are 14 criteria for achieving eligibility for OWGR recognition, and Norman noted that LIV Golf doesn’t meet them directly. One of the criteria is to have no cut after 36 holes; LIV golf tournaments are 54 holes without cuts.

But other tournaments, including the BMW Championship, Tour Championship, Hero World Challenge, and World Golf Championships, don’t have cups and still receive OWGR points.

“In all respects, it would be wrong to deny points to LIV players in light of the fact that the OWGR awards points to other players on the Tour under similar, if not less competitive, circumstances,” Norman wrote. .

Other criteria that LIV Golf did not directly meet included tournaments having an average field of at least 75 players (LIV has 48 players on 12 teams of four); a tour holding an annual open qualifying school before the start of each season; a structured opportunity for at least five players to progress to the nominating Full Member Tour (in the case of LIV, the Asian Tour); and a visit demonstrating compliance with OWGR guidelines for a period of one year.

Norman wrote that between the LIV Golf Invitational Series and the International Series, which will be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour in 2023, LIV events will have an average field of 88 players. LIV Golf plans to hold a LIV Promotions event, in which players will have a “chance to win their player spot”, and its top five players at the end of each season will receive a full Asian Tour card.

“Although LIV Golf has been running for over a year, the LIV Golf Invitational Series is still in its first year,” Norman wrote. “In light of the implications for OWGR and its credibility of not providing LIV Golf players with the proper points, and given LIV Golf’s unprecedented field strength for a tour in its early days, we urged OWGR to feel comfortable with the status of LIV Golf, because it is clearly in the interest of the OWGR, the players and the game to do so.”

ADVERTISEMENT