LIV Golf faces hurdles in applying for world ranking points
Even as the second LIV Golf Invitational series embarks on the first of four consecutive events in the United States, an important part of its future takes place in Scotland in two weeks.
The Official World Golf Ranking governing board meets at St. Andrews during the British Open, followed by a meeting of the OWGR’s technical committee. The agenda is likely to include whether the Saudi-funded league of 48-man fields in 54-hole events should get ranking points.
That assumes LIV Golf’s application to be part of the OWGR system is received by then.
Greg Norman, who runs LIV Golf, already has suggested that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan will recuse himself from the decision. Monahan is part of the eight-member panel that includes executives from the European tour, PGA of America, USGA, R&A, Augusta National and the International Federation of PGA Tours. The board is chaired by former R&A chief Peter Dawson.
But there are a few potential bumps in the guidelines for prospective newcomers.
One is that every tournament be contested over at least 54 holes with a 36-hole cut or be in line with eligible formats. LIV Golf has no cut.
The OWGR guidelines indicate a standard format of 72 holes, with 54 holes acceptable “for those tournaments earnings fewer than 12 minimum first-place points.” In other words, a steady diet of 54-hole events is typically for developmental tours or offseason series, such as the Vodacom Origins of Golf in South Africa.
Guidelines also state that tournaments must average a 75-man field over the course of the season. This could be a problem for a circuit that promotes 48-man fields. LIV Golf has invested $300 million into the Asian Tour and has four “International Series” tournaments this year. It could claim those fields as part of its league and reach the minimum.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle is a requirement that a new tour comply with the guidelines for at least one year before it gets admitted. LIV Golf has altered or delayed plans for a full schedule and set teams, and providing stability could be key in gaining approval.
Of course, the OWGR handbook also says the board can admit or reject any new tour regardless of compliance and change criteria at its discretion. That’s a lot of gray.
And then if LIV Golf does get accepted, still looming is a change to the OWGR ranking formula that starts in August, before LIV’s fourth event.
The new system will determine the strength of field using a calculation based on a statistical evaluation of every player in the field, not just those among the current 200 in the world. Gone will be the minimum points awarded to various tours.
The Portland field has 13 players outside the top 200.
Meanwhile, Ian Poulter comes into the Portland event at No. 96 and risks falling out of the top 100 for the first time in five years. Lee Westwood is at No. 87. Both are in the British Open. Without ranking points, they won’t be eligible for majors going forward without open qualifying.