LIV golfers deride OWGR as ‘obsolete,’ ‘skewed’

Cameron Smith called the Official World Golf Ranking system “almost obsolete” after its governing body voted unanimously not to award world-ranking points to golfers for their finishes in LIV Golf League tournaments.

Smith was ranked as high as No. 2 in the world after winning The Open at St. Andrews in July 2022. He left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf about two months later and has fallen to 15th in the world.

“I think it is almost obsolete now,” Smith told reporters Wednesday in Saudi Arabia, where LIV Golf will play its final regular-season event at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club starting Friday. “We’ve got some guys out here who are playing some of the best golf in the world and they’re outside the top 100, 200 in the world. It’s pretty ridiculous.”

Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson, who was LIV Golf’s inaugural individual champion in 2022, also questioned whether the OWGR is still the best way to rank players.

“I feel like you can’t really use the world ranking system anymore,” Johnson said. “That’s my take on it. Hard to use the world ranking system if you’re excluding 48 guys that are good players. The rankings are skewed. It doesn’t really affect me as it does some of the other guys. I want the points for the other guys.”

OWGR chairman Peter Dawson sent a letter to LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman and COO Gary Davidson on Tuesday, notifying them that the governing board had voted not to recognize the LIV Golf League as an eligible tour in the OWGR system.

The letter said the governing board had concerns about the lack of turnover among players in LIV Golf and the limited pathways for other players to join. It also cited concerns about some of the team aspects of LIV Golf, which has players competing in individual and team competitions simultaneously over 54 holes.

The PGA Tour and DP World Tour have suspended players who competed in LIV Golf tournaments without conflicting-event releases. Many LIV Golf players have resigned from those tours.

The governing bodies of the four majors, Augusta National Golf Club, PGA of America, United States Golf Association and The R&A, have continued to allow LIV Golf players to compete in majors if they have qualified. Some players, including Johnson and Smith, have qualified for majors by being past champions. Others have earned exemptions through their world ranking, which will be more difficult in the future.

Smith and five-time major champion Brooks Koepka (No. 18) are the only LIV Golf players currently ranked in the top 50 in the world. Six LIV Golf players are ranked in the top 100.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing,” Patrick Reed said. “Until the actual world ranking reflects the actual top players in the world, then to me it’s just kind of a broken system. Just because we play on a different tour, it shouldn’t matter.”

As it stands, Reed is eligible to play only in the Masters, as a past champion in 2024. Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel also have lifetime exemptions to play at Augusta National Golf Club in April as past winners.

Koepka, who picked up his fifth major victory at the PGA Championship in May, will have a five-year exemption into all four through 2028. Smith can play in all four through 2027; Mickelson is set until 2026; and Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau are exempt through 2025.

DeChambeau, who captured the 2020 U.S. Open, suggested allowing the top 12 players from LIV Golf’s season-long points race into the majors the next year.

“For DJ and Cam and Brooks and those guys, who I understand are exempt for majors probably for the foreseeable future, that doesn’t last forever,” England’s Richard Bland said. “And to not have those guys playing in majors is not right.

“It doesn’t matter where you play your golf. The world rankings should show that, and it doesn’t. I don’t know how you get around that. It’s disappointing because you are just robbing the golf fan, maybe in a few years’ time, of the best players playing in the biggest tournaments. And that’s what it should be.”

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