Taylor Gooch, Cam Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau are obviously four of the world’s best golfers. But where they rank in the world is up for debate because … well, there are a few reasons.
Debate Point One: LIV golfers no longer receive world-ranking points because they play on a tour, the Saudi Arabian-based LIV Tour, that does not qualify for such points.
Why not? Because the people who conduct and control the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) system say that LIV tournaments do not follow the OWGR rules of qualification.
Such as LIV’s 54-hole, no-cut tournaments.
Debate Point Two: The golf establishment despises, no … a better word would be ‘hates’, LIV. The golf establishment hates the idea that some of the world’s best, along with many run-of-the-mill golfers, were presented with gazillion-dollar cheques to join LIV for the supposed betterment of golf globally.
LIV’s efforts to have its golfers receive world-ranking points took another recent hit when the OWGR board (comprised of representatives of the golf establishment which, remember, despises LIV) again rejected an application to have its players receive world-ranking points.
These points are valuable because in most cases, they help to determine who gets into the four major championships in golf — the Masters, U.S. Open, the Open Championship, and the PGA.
Some LIV players have pre-qualified for some of those events, but the vast majority depend on their status on the world-ranking list to make the field.
Gooch is one example. He led the LIV Tour in money earnings in 2023, yet is currently ineligible to play in the majors because his world-ranking position has fallen to 201 from 40 at the end of the 2021 season.
But what does it mean to lead the LIV Tour in money? How does one compare Gooch playing against only 47 others, probably 25 of whom would struggle to make ends meet on the PGA Tour, while World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Colin Morikawa routinely take on fields of 155 others, all of them with proven credentials.
How does a Gooch LIV victory over 10 or 12 great players compare to a victory on the PGA Tour? Might it translate to a top 10? A 21st-place tie? It’s impossible to tell.
Golf fans know from past performance that Koepka, Gooch, Smith, etc., are (or have been) great players but there’s no way to compare them to all golfers in the world unless a comparable system is established.
Perhaps the OWGR could allow LIV tournaments to offer a lower number of world-ranking points due to strength of field. For example, winning two LIV tournaments might be equal, when considering strength of field, to, say, a couple of seventh-place finishes on the PGA Tour, and points awarded accordingly.
That way, the world can see how Gooch, Koepka, etc., compare to their golf rivals around the world. Otherwise, LIV golfers are simply barnstormers, collecting only money, not honour or lasting legacy.
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by Bruce Penton