LIV Golf allies take a mini-tour in a bid to get ratings

LIV Golf has spent the past several months trying to secure its own invitation to the exclusive and crucial World Golf Rankings, the system that determines invitations to the four disciplines of golf.

Now, in an ingenious move, LIV has decided to join the party as one extra, aligning itself with a tour that is already inside.

LIV announced on Wednesday that it will form a “strategic alliance” with the Middle East and North Africa Tour, a circuit that (in theory) represents the Middle East and North Africa region. The Middle East and North Africa Tour, which has been designated as a path to the Asian Tour, began operations in 2011, but has not held any tournaments since the pandemic.

“We are taking this mutually beneficial measure to support the game at a developmental level and because of the importance and fairness of eligible LIV golfers to OWGR points,” said Atul Khosla, President of LIV Golf. “We are thrilled to create courses that provide more opportunities for young players, while also giving fans ratings that include the best golfers in the world.”

With all due respect to the playing opportunities for young players, the second half of the Khosla sentences are the crucial part of this “strategic alliance”. The Middle East and North Africa Tour is already part of the Official Tour Database of World Golf Rankings, and has been around since 2016. By designating LIV events, starting with the weekend tournament in Bangkok, as part of the MENA Tour, LIV confirms that it is now Part of OWGR already.

It’s aggressive bureaucratic chess, and it puts OWGR — and jointly, the PGA Tour and others seeking to prevent LIV certification — on the defensive. LIV Golf and its CEO Greg Norman essentially forced OWGR to either recognize LIV courses for rating purposes, or to discover a legal way to rewrite their own rules protecting the validity of smaller rounds.

The OWGR is key to one element of professional golf that LIV can’t buy its way into: the majors. LIV caused upheaval in the entire golf world earlier this year when it attracted many of the biggest names in the game with its amazing signing bonuses and championship bags, all guaranteed by the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund. LIV has quickly grown from a 19-hole barbecue room joke to an existential threatthe PGA Tour is Participate in legal proceedings against LIV as a plaintiff and defendant.

While LIV players including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson and Open Championship winner Cam Smith appear needing to avoid PGA Tour events for the foreseeable future, the majors are another story. The history of golf spans across the four disciplines – the Masters, the PGA Championship, the US Open, and the Open Championship – and For those golfers who care about legacy In addition to the bottom line, LIV’s inability to guarantee a route to the major currencies is a major drawback.

OWGR ranks players based on an average of two years, using a formula that awards points based on the field strength of both Tours and Tournaments. But since LIV players haven’t counted their non-major tournaments since they joined LIV in the spring, they’ve seen their rankings plummet. Johnson, for example, ranked 12th in the world when he jumped to the LIV; He is now ranked 23.

Some players who have previously had success in the majors receive an exemption regardless of which round they are playing; For example, Johnson, Mickelson, and several others, as former Masters champions, would (in theory) be able to travel to Augusta for the rest of their lives. For the rest of the field, the majors choose players based on their global rankings – the top 50 for the Masters, and the top 100 for the PGA Championship, for example. A projection earlier in the summer indicated that notable LIV players such as Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed If they do not play in any other events subject to OWGR penalties.

This is why rankings are so important, and why LIV is heading to the MENA region. The MENA Tour alone won’t solve LIV’s challenges in qualifying for majors, but it may stop the statistical bleeding.

The pandemic halted the 2020 season of the Middle East and North Africa Tour following the “Journey to Jordan 2” tournament on March 4, 2020. The season resumed and concluded earlier this year with a four-league tournament jointly with the Asian Development Tour. That year’s winner, Tom Sloman, took home a prize of $28,870, nearly three zeros less than what LIV champions could theoretically earn. Mathiam Keser, the latest MENA Tour winner, ranks 1,473 in the world, or 1,470 points behind Smith.

As a result, LIV continues to face challenges on both the legal and athletic fronts. The MENA Tour is only part of the OWGR rankings in the broadest sense, and carries little statistical weight compared to the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour in Europe.

OWGR awards points based on individual tournament merit and field strength. For example, the 2022 Masters gave a player 100 total spin points, and their field strength was 785. This week’s PGA Tour event, Shriners Children’s Open, has a field strength of 249.39, and projects to add 42.89 points for the winner. The most recent MENA Championship from March 2020 had a strength of 0.00, awarding all three points to the winner’s total.

OWGR ranks the strengths of the tournaments by combining the world rankings obtained by the single strikes of all players on the field. In theory, the strength of the LIV field will raise the standings of the Bangkok championship. The presence of Smith and Johnson alone would add more than 3.5 points to the championship rating.

Mina’s website now Next tournament. (The listing still requires a “$50 entry fee,” and probably isn’t a hard request for LIV players.) However, as of noon on Tuesday, OWGR has not included the LIV Bangkok event among its upcoming tournaments.

Greg Norman, CEO of LIV, is seeking global rating points for his tour.  (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Greg Norman, CEO of LIV, is seeking global rating points for his tour. (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Connect with Jay Busbee at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or on Twitter at Tweet embed.

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