World ranking rejects last-minute LIV Golf bid for points
By DOUG FERGUSON
The Official World Golf Ranking won't be awarding points to LIV Golf events this year, denying the MENA Tour's request to immediately add the Saudi-funded series to its schedule.
The OWGR said in a statement Thursday the MENA Tour did not give it sufficient notice and there would not be time to finish the review ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational in Bangkok that starts Friday or the event in Saudi Arabia next week.
In a move that indicates how quickly LIV Golf wants world ranking points for its 48-man fields, it created an alliance with the little-known MENA Tour, which hasn't run a tournament of its own since March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MENA Tour stands for Middle East and North Africa and is a developmental tour that has been getting the bare minimum of world ranking points since 2016. It has 54-hole events with a 36-hole cut, offering a $75,000 purse. LIV Golf events have a $20 million purse for 54-hole events with no cut.
The MENA Tour now is aligned with the Asian Development Tour, a step below the Asian Tour. LIV Golf already has invested $300 million in the Asian Tour, creating an "International Series" that began this year.
The OWGR said it now is reviewing "significant changes" to the MENA Tour's membership structure and schedule.
The MENA Tour not only submitted LIV Golf's next two tournaments as part of its schedule, it said all LIV Golf players - such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka - have joined the MENA Tour.
MENA Tour commissioner David Spencer said he disagreed with the reasons for the OWGR ruling.
"We have had various communications with OWGR since submitting our 2022-23 schedule, MENA Tour handbook, exemption criteria and our field ahead of our opening event of our new season which tees off today," Spencer said in a statement. "None of this communication pointed towards any technical reason for the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok to be treated any differently to any MENA Tour event, every one of which has received OWGR since we were accepted into the OWGR framework in 2016."
The OWGR said it would wait until the review is complete before deciding whether to award points to the MENA Tour's new "Limited Field Tournaments." It said the MENA defined that as "any MENA Tour-approved event" of fewer than 80 players.
Meanwhile, the OWGR said regular MENA Tour events will still get points. That won't be the case for LIV Golf this year. After the events in Bangkok and Saudi Arabia, the last tournament is only for teams.
Bryson DeChambeau and Harold Varner III are among those that appear certain to fall out of the top 50 by the end of the year, meaning they likely would have no path to play in the Masters and would have to go through qualifying for two other majors.
None of the majors has yet to say whether LIV Golf has caused them to change their criteria for next year.
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Updated October 7, 2022