LIV made ranking ‘promises’ before rejection

2024 PGA Championship - Preview Day Three
Cameron Smith could miss the Paris Olympics. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

One of the key figures behind the rejection of LIV Golf’s application for official world ranking points has suggested “some promises” were made to players who joined the breakaway circuit and those behind the Saudi-backed tour “assumed” it was a given they would be approved.

The lack of ranking points on offer to LIV players will begin to bite from next year when some stars lose their exemptions into the majors, with Australian star Cameron Smith also on the verge of potentially missing the Paris Olympics amid his slide.

PGA of America chief executive and Official World Golf Ranking board member Seth Waugh said LIV officials “misunderstood” the process before removing their application when it became clear that while the 54-hole, no cut concept could be worked through, the limited field format and lack of mass opportunities to join couldn’t.

“When LIV asked for points – now, first of all, they publicly assumed they were going to have points and made some promises necessarily – potentially, even, and really didn’t apply for a while after that, and then finally did apply, and I think they expected an answer in, you know, a very short period of time,” Waugh said ahead of the PGA Championship in Kentucky.

“You know, that’s just never happened. We always kind of look at new tours, and they take a bit of time. One is, are they going to be successful? Are they actually going to launch. Are they going to survive more than one season, and what quality of play is going to be there before we kind of begin to think about it.

Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club
PGA of America chief executive and Official World Golf Ranking board member Seth Waugh said LIV Golf ‘misunderstood’ the process for ranking points. Picture: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images North America / Getty Images via AFP

“So I think they misunderstood how the process went. I’m not saying it’s their fault. I’m just saying I think they misunderstood.

“But there is two fundamental things that we weren’t sure we could solve with math, which was relegation and promotion, and what that looked like because that was murky and they didn’t want to share exactly who was sort of there and so we never knew the percentages of what that would look like.

“And secondly, just the inherent conflict of team versus individual play.

“Kind of went back and forth a few times, but they didn’t change their position. We didn’t really change ours. We’ve had very serious conversations about it, and then without telling us publicly, they have withdrawn their application.”

LIV chief executive Greg Norman, and a large cohort of his players, have all since dismissed the OWGR as “irrelevant” and not a true indicator of the world’s best golfers, with the likes of Smith sitting at number 62.

Despite those issues, Waugh was happy to hand out eight special invitations to LIV players who are among 16 playing in the PGA, with less restrictions on who could be included, to make the “best field in golf”.

“We have 15 criteria that are pretty much set, and then there’s an opportunity for us to invite those players who may not be in those 15 criteria,” he said.

“We’re fortunate in that case to be able to look at various tours, all tours, including LIV.

“That process over the years has made us be able to have what we feel is a field we are really proud of. It brings the best players in the whole world together.”