Home Sports LIV Golf’s attempted backdoor to world rankings points under review as OWGR considers MENA Tour request

LIV Golf’s attempted backdoor to world rankings points under review as OWGR considers MENA Tour request

by Atlanta Business Journal

Despite an attempt to find a backdoor into its players earning points on the Official World Golf Rankings by aligning itself with the little-known MENA Tour, LIV Golf continues to be denied such access for the moment. In a statement released Thursday, the OWGR said it will review the developments before making a decision, though that review will not reach its conclusion before the next two LIV events are completed.

The MENA Tour (Middle East and North Africa Tour) is a fledgling league with $75,000 purses that hasn’t hosted many events since the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. It is not notable on the list of relevant tours globally, but its members can earn OWGR points. LIV Golf, which presents 54-hole tournaments with no cuts and has thus been denied access to OWGR points, this week formed a “strategic alliance” with the MENA Tour.

The concept arrived upon by LIV Golf is for the MENA Tour to present LIV tournaments as “limited field events” under its banner, thus opening OWGR points to LIV golfers, many of whom are among the biggest stars in the game that chose to leave the PGA Tour for the guaranteed riches offered by the Saudi Arabia-backed league.

OWGR points allow golfers to stay relevant in the world rankings and qualify for major championships.

The OWGR responded to the request as such:

OWGR notes that the first two tournaments in [the MENA Tour’s newly submitted schedule] appeared to be the same as the LIV Golf Invitational Series tournaments in Bangkok and Jeddah. The communication from the MENA Tour included a starting field data file for the Bangkok tournament, confirming that to be the case.

A review of the changes to the MENA Tour is now underway by the OWGR.

Notice of these changes given by the MENA Tour is insufficient to allow OWGR to conduct the customary necessary review ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok (7-9 October) and LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah (14-16 October).

Only after the review is complete will a decision be made on awarding points to the MENA Tour’s new “Limited Field Tournaments”, defined by the MENA Tour in its Regulations as “any MENA Tour-approved tournament, which comprises of a player field of less than 80 players”.

In some ways, this was a smart attempt by LIV to skirt the rules outlined by the OWGR. The top MENA Tour players get access to the Asian Tour, and the top Asian Tour players will receive spots in future LIV events, according to Sports Illustrated. It’s a convoluted path, but it exists.

“I think from a player standpoint, it feels great to have everyone at LIV fighting so hard for the players and their best interests,” Phil Mickelson told SI. “I think for the World Golf Rankings, this is a great way to keep its credibility, while not bringing politics into the decision-making process. I think it’s good for all parties.”

This is certainly not a “no” from the OWGR, but it is not what LIV wanted to hear. Still, LIV is trying a variety of creative ways to obtain OWGR points. As time passes and more of the picture comes into view, it seems more possible than ever that they could obtain them. Whether that’s through the MENA Tour or the Asian Tour or by simply changing their format and their structure to better fit the OWGR stipulations, the pathway remains to be seen. However, given the caliber of players on the LIV roster, it would be surprising at this point if it did not eventually work itself out one way or another.

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