LIV golfers petition OWGR chair to include results

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Each of the 48 players who competed in last week’s LIV Golf event outside Chicago have signed a letter sent to the chairperson of the Official World Golf Ranking asking that OWGR retroactively include LIV Golf results in its rankings.

The letter was sent to OWGR chairperson Peter Dawson on Friday. The letter was also signed by nonplaying captain Bubba Watson and reserves.

“To maintain trust, we urge you — as one of the true statesmen of sports — to act appropriately to include, on a retroactive basis, the results of LIV Golf events in OWGR’s ranking calculations,” the players wrote in the letter. “An OWGR without LIV would be incomplete and inaccurate, the equivalent of leaving the Big 10 or the SEC out of the U.S. college football rankings, or leaving Belgium, Argentina, and England out of the FIFA rankings.”

LIV players have not received points for their finishes in the first five tournaments staged by the new circuit, which is being fronted by two-time Open winner Greg Norman and financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

“Some 23 tours are integrated into the OWGR universe, and LIV has earned its place among them,” the letter said. “Four LIV golfers have held the number-one position on the OWGR, and one is currently number-two [Cameron Smith is now third, actually].

“LIV’s roster includes 21 of the last 51 winners of the four Majors. The level of competition at the average LIV event is at least equal to that at the average PGA Tour event. We know because we’ve played in both. Every week that passes without the inclusion of LIV athletes undermines the historical value of OWGR.”

The letter noted that two-time major champion Dustin Johnson has fallen from 13th to 22nd (he is now 23rd) since joining LIV Golf, despite finishing eighth, third, second and first in his first four events.

Other LIV golfers also have slipped in the OWGR, including Brooks Koepka (29th), Louis Oosthuizen (33rd) and Talor Gooch (36th).

The OWGR standings are used to determine exemptions at the four major championships. The OWGR board began considering LIV Golf’s application during a meeting at the 150th Open at St. Andrews in July. The board said LIV Golf applied for inclusion on July 6.

OWGR board members include PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley, USGA CEO Mike Whan, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, PGA of America executive director Seth Waugh, Augusta National Golf Club executive director Will Jones and Keith Waters, who represents the International Federation of PGA Tours.

“The case for LIV’s inclusion is strong, but we have concerns that members of your Governing Board are conflicted and are keeping the OWGR from acting as it should,” LIV Golf players wrote in the letter. “Four of the eight members have connections to the PGA Tour, which unfortunately views LIV Golf as an antagonist. Other members of the Board have made unfairly harsh remarks about LIV, with one of them calling the organization ‘not credible.’

“The current overwrought environment makes your own judgment crucial. In your athletic, business and golf management career you have won a stellar reputation for impartiality and integrity. Your work at the R&A and the OWGR shows you know how to combine tradition and innovation.”

In an earlier letter to LIV players, Norman noted that there are 14 criteria for reaching eligibility for OWGR recognition and that LIV Golf didn’t directly meet all of them. One of the criteria includes having a cut after 36 holes; LIV Golf tournaments are 54 holes with no cuts.

But other tournaments — including the BMW Championship, Tour Championship, Hero World Challenge and World Golf Championships — don’t have cuts and are still awarded OWGR points.

“By any measure, it would be wrong to deny points to LIV players in light of the OWGR granting other tour players points in similar, if not less competitive, circumstances,” Norman wrote.

Other criteria that LIV Golf didn’t directly satisfy included tournaments having an average field of at least 75 players (LIV has 48 players on 12 four-man teams), a tour holding an annual open qualifying school before the start of each season, a structured opportunity for at least five players to progress to the full member tour that is proposing its application (in LIV’s case, the Asian Tour) and a tour demonstrating that it has complied with OWGR guidelines for a period of one year.

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