EXCLUSIVE: LIV Golf set to submit OWGR application

Liv Golf

Players competing in this week’s inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event in London will not receive world ranking points – but that could soon change.

bunkered.co.uk has learned that the Saudi-backed circuit intends to submit an application to the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) next week. 

The news comes hot on the heels of the PGA Tour's decision to ban current and future LIV Golf players from its tournaments for an undisclosed period of time and effective immediately.

If approved, OWGR status would make LIV events eligible for world ranking points and solve one of the major outstanding issues facing the start-up.

The application will be proposed on LIV Golf’s behalf by the Asian Tour per the OWGR’s rules that require any new applications to be effectively ‘sponsored’ by one of the six full member tours.

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The board that will ultimately vote on the LIV Golf application comprises Augusta National Golf Club, the DP World Tour, the PGA Tour, the R&A, the PGA of America, the USGA, and the International Federation of PGA Tours (which is made up of ‘smaller’ tours such as the Sunshine Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Asian Tour and so on). 

Interestingly, the latter’s vote will reportedly be cast by Keith Waters, the COO of the DP World Tour. 

Whether or not organisations or competing tours who have a conflict of interest will be asked to abstain from the vote is not yet known.

A source who asked not to be identified told bunkered.co.uk: “A successful world rankings application would be a huge vote of confidence for LIV Golf and an acknowledgement that this new venture is both credible and serious.

“It would also potentially open the floodgates for more players to commit to the Series.”

There are numerous criteria that an OWGR application is required to meet. It is our understanding that LIV Golf meets all bar a handful of those – one being the requirement to have been established for a defined period of time – but those are not thought to be deal-breakers.

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It is in the OWGR’s constitution, indeed, that new applications that meet either all or none of the criteria can be approved or denied at the discretion of the OWGR board. The board also reportedly reserves the right to amend those qualifying criteria when and how they choose.

Another sticking point for LIV Golf is the fact that the series comprises 54-hole tournaments with no cut and is, by its own definition, an invitational circuit. It would, in essence, be guaranteeing world ranking points for its invited participants.

That, though, is not without precedent. The PGA Tour’s Tour Championship, as well as the DP World Tour Championship, World Golf Championships and Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge, are all no-cut events that offer OWGR points.

All that said, the most compelling point is surely this. 

The OWGR’s value is diminished greatly if it is not a credible and accurate representation of who the best players in the game are.

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If, for example, Dustin Johnson wins this week’s LIV Golf event but doesn’t make any world rankings gains as a result, is next week's ranking truly representative and, therefore, a robust enough tool to determine the fields for major championships in particular?

There is no clear timeline as to when the LIV Golf application will be voted upon but this is unquestionably another significant moment in a seismic week for men’s professional golf.

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