Time To Right A Rankings Wrong
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
The strongest men's professional tournament being contested this weekend features 12 major champions with 22 trophies from the tournaments that really matter. Thirteen of the world’s top 50 players are teeing it up. Collectively, the field has so many other tournament wins it would need a calculator to count them.
Those 12 major champions? Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Brooks Koepka, Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel, Cameron Smith and Henrik Stenson.
The LIV Golf Invitational Boston tournament isn’t listed on the Official World Golf Ranking inventory of events this week (above). You will find the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, the Made in Himmerland, Fujisankei Classic, GolfBC Championship, B-NL Challenge Trophy, LX Championship, Dunlop Phoenix Tournament Challenge in Fukishima, 50th Thailand Open, GreatDays Trophy, BRG Open Golf Championship, FaberExposize Gelpenberg Open and the Altron Big Easy Tour 8, complete with strength of field rankings.
If you can find a major champion in the above 12 tournaments then you’ve got a sharper eye than me. Yet all count for world ranking points while the one with 12 major winners and 13 world top 50 players does not.
The PGA Tour, European Tour and members of the Official World Golf Ranking committee can pretend the LIV Golf Invitational Boston event isn’t taking place, but it is. And whether they like it or not, it blows away every other men's tournament this weekend.
There was a time when this Saudi-backed circuit was derided for not having any players, any tournaments or any golf courses. Now it has the Champion Golfer of the Year, a bona fide schedule and there seems to be no shortage of golf courses willing to stage the so-called “upstart/rebel/disrupter” circuit.
Smith makes his debut in the LIV Series fresh from winning the game’s greatest tournament over the Old Course at St Andrews. He’s jumped ship from the PGA Tour in a deal allegedly worth north of $100 million. Imagine a tournament featuring the reigning Open Champion not earning world ranking points?
“To have 48 of the best guys around the world playing and not to get world ranking points, I think is perhaps a little bit unfair,” Smith said.
That’s an understatement: it’s a lot unfair.
Marc Leishman echoed his compatriot’s remarks when he added:
“As far as the majors and all that go, I think it could potentially hurt them having some guys potentially miss out because they are not offered world ranking points here.”
Add Mickelson's voice to the above. The six-time major champion believes:
"Given how many great players are a part of LIV, for LIV events to not have world ranking points would totally undermine the world ranking system and would force a new world ranking system to come about that was credible.
"I believe that the world golf rankings organization realizes that and will give world ranking points to LIV events."
They're right. Surely the major championships want the best players in the world competing in their events, no matter what tour they compete on?
Smith’s status as Open champion means he’ll play in all the majors for a few more years. Ditto for 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, while right now Mickelson and fellow Masters winners Reed, Garcia, Johnson and Schwartzel can play Augusta every Spring until they’re in their dotage, a luxury currently afforded to Mickelson, Oosthuizen, Stenson and Smith in The Open as former champions.
While much has been made of LIV only attracting players past their sell by dates, it also features potential major winners in the likes of former World Amateur Golf Ranking number one Joaquin Neimann, Peter Uihlein, Abraham Ancer, Eugenio Chacarra, Sam Horsfield, Anirban Lahiri and Matthew Wolff. Surely these are the very players those in the charge of the major championships want competing in their fields, especially given the appeal these international players can elicit in their home countries? Yet these players and others with promising futures may miss out on major berths because LIV Golf events aren’t getting world ranking points.
The OWGR board met before The Open at St Andrews to discuss LIV Golf’s application for its tournaments to garner world ranking points. The OWGR altered its points process in August but LIV Golf was not welcomed into the OWGR family, and there’s been no news on when it might be considered for inclusion. There’s talk that it could take two years. (Read this for a comprehensive list of reasons.)
No matter what anyone thinks of LIV Golf – and it has certainly polarised our sport to the point of hostility from some corners – it is a viable tour with strong fields that will surely grow stronger as it lures players away with promises of untold riches. It’s not going away any time soon, that’s for sure.
I’m no spokesperson for LIV Golf. I look at its existence from a purely objective point of view. The field LIV Golf has assembled in Boston, and at other venues, deserves world ranking points. It’s time the OWGR recognised that.
It's time to right a rankings wrong.
#JustSaying: “How can you ever be a champion playing a (LIV Golf) tour with 54 holes and no cut? What sort of tour is that? Gary Player
#JustSaying2: “I have long admired the vision of Golf Saudi, but more importantly the work that is being done on the ground to provide access to the sport for all levels,” Golf Saudi ambassador Gary Player