Mind the Major Golf Rankings Gap
Will the 2024 men’s major championships truly feature all the best players in the world, or just a selection of the world’s best players. Following the Official World Golf Ranking’s decision not to award ranking points to players on the LIV Tour, it would appear the latter part of that sentence will be true.
LIV players are set to miss out on appearances in the only men's tournaments that really matter unless the OWGR has a change of heart between now and the Masters. Even then it could be too late for players that wouldn’t look out of place in the marquee events.
You can read the OWGR’s decision here in full, but the bottom line is that the body that controls the all-important classification for the game’s four men’s majors is sticking hard and fast to its rules. I disagree with the decision as I stated in this blog last December. And I disagree with Phil Mickelson’s assertion that the PGA Tour is pulling the strings. The PGA Tour and European Tour have representation on the OWGR committee but have recused themselves from that body in light of the ongoing talks with LIV Golf. And OWGR chairman Peter Dawson is as honourable as they come. He is above reproach.
However, this quote from Dawson stands out:
“It is unfortunate that no way to include LIV Golf in Ranking could be found which would be fair and equitable to the 24 currently eligible tours and their thousands of playing members.”
Isn’t the opposite also true? Is it fair and equitable to the LIV players who are sliding down the OWGR and consequently might not be able to tee it up next year at Augusta National, Valhalla Golf Club, Pinehurst and Royal Troon, for the Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open and The Open?
Will these championships be somewhat diminished by the lack of LIV stars? Shouldn’t the four major championships attract the absolute best players regardless of what tour they play on? Yes and, are the obvious answers.
You’d have thought those in charge of the majors would have found some solution to include LIV players in the OWGR, especially since the OWGR committee includes representatives of those same championships.
Strange how Sports Illustrated has been able to fashion a ranking system that includes LIV players yet the OWGR can’t do the same. And the OWGR has been around since 1986.
The disparity between the two ranking systems makes for interesting reading. Only two LIV players are inside the OWGR top 50, and only six are inside the top 100. Yet there are 12 LIV players inside the SI top 50, and 26 top 100 players.
Only Joaquin Niemann has a higher OWGR ranking than an SI one. Matthew Wolff has the biggest gap among SI top 100 players between his SI and OWGR status, 638 places.
Brooks Koepka (pictured) is the highest ranked LIV player on the SI ranking at fifth against 17th on the OWGR. Ask most serious golf fans which ranking more accurately reflects Koepka’s status in world golf and they’ll go for fifth over 17th any day of the week. Ditto for Cameron Smith, champion golfer of the year for 2021. He’s 10th on the SI ranking and 18th on the OWGR.
Here's a list of the LIV top 100 players on the SI Ranking compared to their OWGR status, along with the difference between the two standings. The frightening thing is that the gap between the OWGR and SI ranking will probably be even greater come next spring. And that surely isn’t right?
Player SI OWGR Difference
Brooks Koepka 4 17 12
Cameron Smith 10 18 8
Bryson DeChambeau 13 137 124
Talor Gooch 24 201 177
Patrick Reed 28 64 36
Dustin Johnson 36 127 91
Sebastian Munoz 39 220 181
Phil Mickelson 40 114 74
Anirban Lahiri 41 161 120
Mito Pereira 43 81 38
Harold Varner III 47 150 103
Branden Grace 48 587 539
Richard Bland 52 251 199
Marc Leishman 58 353 295
Henrik Stenson 62 234 172
Abraham Ancer 64 96 32
Louis Oosthuizen 68 401 333
Charles Howell III 69 653 584
Brendan Steele 70 279 209
Sergio Garcia 76 388 312
Joaquin Niemann 79 68 -11
Dean Burmester 82 130 48
Peter Uihlein 84 609 525
David Puig 85 312 227
Cameron Tringale 87 290 203
Matthew Wolff 97 735 638
Those in charge of the game’s blue chip events should study these two rankings and reflect on whether or not their championships will be bringing the absolute best players together.
In announcing the OWGR’s decision not to award LIV players ranking points for playing on the LIV Tour, Dawson said:
“Keeping this matter under review, OWGR will continue to monitor developments in men’s professional golf as a whole and LIV in particular.”
OWGR needs to do more than monitor developments. It and LIV Golf need to engage in constructive dialogue as soon as possible to solve this issue for the good of the game.
No matter where you stand on LIV Golf, it can’t be right that the game’s four greatest championships don’t feature the best golfers on the planet.
#JustSaying: “The majors are all about having the best players in the world competing against each other… Hopefully they find a way to have the best players in the world in majors.” Joaquin Niemann