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LIV Golf gives up bid for World Ranking points as Greg Norman sounds off on board

March 05, 2024
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Peter Van der Klooster

LIV Golf has given up its bid to gain Official World Golf Ranking accreditation.

In a letter to membership, LIV CEO Greg Norman told players the Saudi-backed circuit will no longer attempt to appease the qualifications to earn OWGR points, which is a primary avenue into major championship fields for those otherwise not exempt through past victories.

“We have made significant efforts to fight for you and ensure your accomplishments are recognized within the existing ranking system,” Norman wrote to his constituents. “Unfortunately, OWGR has shown little willingness to productively work with us.”

LIV Golf applied for OWGR accreditation in July of 2022 following its launch the previous month. OWGR accreditation is a one-to-two year process; nevertheless, Norman and LIV members went on the offensive for their case not being expedited, especially as LIV players plummeted down the ranking. Even as the league called the rankings flawed and inaccurate, LIV officials tried to earn their way into the system. Last fall LIV Golf attempted to circumvent the process by partnering with the little-known MENA Tour, believing its association with the mini-circuit would facilitate World Ranking points. However, the OWGR denied the workaround effort, citing insufficient notice and lack of time to review.

Last fall, the OWGR board officially turned down LIV’s application. Sources told Golf Digest that LIV faced questions over its “competitive integrity.” The OWGR cited two broad areas for its decision: The 54-hole, no-cut format of 48-player fields, and both the limited access for players to join LIV and limited relegation for players who underperform.

“The important point is, this is not about the players. LIV players are self-evidently good enough to be ranked; there is no doubt about that,” Peter Dawson, chairman of the OWGR board, told Global Golf Post last year. “This is about, should a tour whose formats are so different and whose qualification criteria are so different, can they be ranked equitably with other tours who conform to the OWGR norm and have more competition to them than perhaps the closed shop that is LIV?”

As part of the framework agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (the financial backer of LIV), there was a mention of the parties in question cooperating to help LIV secure OWGR consideration. Conversely, because of Norman’s protests, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley and Keith Waters of the International Federation of PGA Tours had previously recused themselves from the LIV decision. Additionally, talks between the PGA Tour and PIF have stalled following LIV’s recruitment of Jon Rahm and the tour’s partnership with private-equity investment.

LIV is hosting its fourth event of the season in Hong Kong this week.