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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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The World’s Top-Ranked Golfers Aren’t Happy With … the Rankings

  • LIV Golf has given up on securing Official World Golf Ranking points.
  • PGA Tour players are starting to call out the current system.
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

PGA Tour and LIV Golf stars are gathering on opposite sides of the world this week, with a collective $45 million in prize money on the line. But the cash up for grabs isn’t what players are talking about. LIV’s abandonment of its effort to secure Official World Golf Ranking points has sparked some passionate reactions among the sport’s top players.

Ahead of LIV’s tournament in Hong Kong, No. 3–ranked Jon Rahm (above) reiterated his years-long beef with the OWGR system. “If anything, the more time that goes on, the more it proves to be wrong,” he said. While Rahm hasn’t been negatively impacted by the current rankings yet (he said he didn’t even know LIV was still trying to get OWGR points), LIV’s Joaquin Niemann needed special invites from the Masters and PGA Championship, and other league staples like Talor Gooch are out of the majors altogether.

“I don’t think the world rankings are a true representation of the golf game at the minute,” No. 9–ranked Matthew Fitzpatrick said in Orlando ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “I don’t really look at them or pay attention to them anymore. I just don’t think they’re right.” Fitzpatrick said he prefers to look at Data Golf, a growing internet database that incorporates non-OWGR sanctioned tournaments like LIV’s. For example, Data Golf ranks Niemann at No. 12 in the world, 64 spots higher than his current OWGR ranking (No. 76).

“It’s inevitable that things need to be updated,” said Patrick Cantlay, No. 6 in the world. “The LIV Tour definitely has really good players,” added Xander Schauffele, No. 5. “I do believe they’re definitely top-ranked players in the world.”

Reading Between the Lines

LIV falls short of many of the OWGR’s sanctioning requirements, thanks mostly to its 54-hole tournaments, limited field sizes, and lack of substantial qualifying methods. However, the growing sentiment isn’t necessarily that LIV deserves OWGR points but rather that the system in place is not painting the entire picture of golf’s best players.

The OWGR’s governing board includes representatives from the four majors, as well as the PGA Tour, European Tour Group, and International Federation of PGA Tours. They could change their mind on how to allocate points whenever they please. For now, the big speed bump looks to be the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia’s impending deal with the PGA Tour, which could be worth $3 billion. Getting that completed would most certainly be a win for the PIF-backed LIV.

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