Fifty LIV golfers on Tuesday signed a letter sent to the President of the Official World Golf Rankings, requesting that the breakaway tour be awarded world ranking points for its events.
The letter, signed by Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, among others, argued that the exclusion of LIV players “undermines the historical value of OWGR”.
“Some 23 courses are embedded in the OWGR universe, and LIV has earned its place among them,” golfers wrote to OWGR President Peter Dawson. “Four LIV golfers have held the (#1) position on the OWGR, and one is currently (#2). LIV’s list includes 21 of the last 51 winners from all four majors. The level of competition at an average LIV event is at least equal to that of an average PGA Tour event.
LIV Golf applied for admission to the OWGR in mid-July, but its tournaments do not currently receive ranking points. The controversial tour has three more events in 2022, with the next convening in Bangkok October 7-9.
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Why is the OWGR important, could the LIV be included, and what if not? Answer these questions:
What are the criteria for a league to get ranking points?
First, the OWGR essentially presents a picture representing a “rolling” period of two years (104 weeks). Ranking points for each event are derived from the total ranking of each tournament. Ranking points are then weighted to give the full value of the most recent 13-week period to put more emphasis on recent performance.
The strength of the field ratings depends on the tournament itself. Golf’s four majors, for example, are ranked separately and receive 100 first-place points, while the Players Championship receives 80 first-place points.
The other 72-hole tournaments, on the other hand, are subject to individual rankings. Limited Field Tournaments and Invitational Tournaments are individually reviewed by the OWGR Technical Committee and approved for inclusion by the Board of Directors. Tournaments limited to 36 holes due to bad weather or other reasons have their value reduced by 75%.
The standards for OWGR points have long been based on 72-hole events with a 36-hole cup, a field of more than 75 players, and those holding qualifying matches for the round itself and each individual tournament. Exemptions exist for development tours.
How close is LIV to the criteria?
There’s a reason LIV teamed up with the Asian Tour early on. This tour is already sanctioned by the OWGR and LIV faces a tough climb to get there. In its current form, this is still the case.
As Tuesday’s letter makes clear, LIV’s biggest argument for inclusion in the OWGR is not her format, but her talent. No matter what the rankings say, there’s no doubt that players like Smith, Johnson and others are among the best in the world. By not counting their play, argues LIV, the ranking lacks validity. It’s not a bad deal to argue, but in terms of the OWGR standards for ranking points to be awarded based on the format of a contest, LIV is otherwise non-compliant.
What are the repercussions of not getting ranking points?
To fall in the rankings is to lose place in the world of professional golf. Rank thresholds provide eligibility to play in the majors. The impacts for LIV players are already being felt. As noted in Tuesday’s letter from LIV to Dawson, Johnson has gone from No. 13 to No. 22 in the OWGR since joining LIV, despite finishing eighth, third, second and first. in the first four LIV events.
Patrick Reed started the year ranked 25th. He is now only 50th. Lee Westwood went from 37th to 100th. Louis Oosthuizen went from 10th to 33rd place. What about Phil Mickelson? He started the year at No. 33. He is currently 128th.
How strong are the LIV fields compared to other circuits?
Let’s look at LIV’s recent event in Chicago. According to DataGolf, the event at Rich Harvest Farms would be easier for a player in the top five in the world to win than 31 PGA Tour events, including majors, and harder to win than PGA Tour events such as the 3M Open, Mexico Open, John Deere and some opposing field events. It’s not nothing, but it’s also nowhere near on par with the PGA Tour, in terms of field strength.
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