LIV Golf

LIV Golf's Niemann given special invite to PGA Championship

March 05, 2024

Manuel Velasquez

The PGA of America has extended a special invitation to Joaquin Niemann for the 2024 PGA Championship. The news was first reported by Golfwrx.

Niemann, 25, has won two events on the LIV Golf circuit this year, and captured the Australian Open last December. The latter victory was the basis for a special Masters invitation, which was bestowed two weeks ago. However, because LIV Golf has failed to meet criteria for Official World Golf Ranking points, many of its players continue to plummet down the OWGR standings, thus restricting their opportunities to qualify for major championships. Though many of LIV’s constituents have long complained about the league’s failed accreditation, Niemann has been especially vocal on the subject as of late, remarking “​​But I’m not in the majors” after his first LIV win and "How is that possible if I'm like 100 in the world?" following this weekend’s tournament in Saudi Arabia.

But Niemann is now in three of the four majors this year, as the PGA Championship continued its tradition of inviting those inside the OWGR top 100 who are not already qualified (Niemann is currently ranked No. 76). Last year the PGA invited eight LIV members, including Paul Casey, who was outside the top 100 but had withdraw from the 2022 PGA due to injury.

The only major Niemann is not in at the moment is the U.S. Open. While the national championship does extend special exemptions, those invites are usually saved for past champions or players of ceremony. Meaning, Niemann will likely have to enter final qualifying to earn his spot at this year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

The news comes as talks between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf’s financial backer, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, have stalled. The tour announced in last month’s private-equity deal that its partnership with the Strategic Sports Group allows for co-investment from PIF in the future, and SSG, sources tell Golf Digest, made the deal with the tour under the belief that PIF involvement will ultimately come to fruition. But there are antitrust regulations that need to be hurdled, and Congress announced last month that its investigation into PIF and its investments in American businesses will continue. Initially the tour sought supplemental investment to appease government antitrust regulations rather than serving as an alternative to PIF, which is the financial backer to LIV Golf. But the tour’s interest in private equity, along with PIF’s renewed recruiting of tour players—highlighted by the December defection of Jon Rahm to LIV—have led to hurty feelings on both sides.

This year’s 2024 PGA begins May 16 at Valhalla. LIV Golf’s Brooks Koepka is the defending champ.