LIV players seek rankings validation, comparing themselves to Big Ten, SEC

·3-min read

One absolute powerhouse, multiple names you'd recognize from their past successes, and a few unknowns are enjoying the fruits of a vast financial windfall and scarfing up plenty of new recruits these days. But this isn't a story about the Big Ten, it's about LIV Golf.

As it comes off its latest tournament — won by absolute powerhouse Cam Smith — LIV Golf continues to push forward on its goal of recognition by the Official World Golf Rankings. Obtaining that recognition would give LIV players a more direct route into the majors, making LIV a far more attractive alternative to the PGA Tour.

All 48 players who competed at last week's Chicago-area LIV event co-signed a letter to Peter Dawson, chairman of the OWGR, seeking to validate LIV and grant ranking points to the no-longer-upstart tour. Given the significant number of major winners now playing on LIV, the players contended that a world ranking without LIV isn't a thorough picture of the state of golf today.

"An OWGR without LIV would be incomplete and inaccurate," they wrote, "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 Golf events are 54-hole, no-cut, shotgun-start tournaments in which every player earns a paycheck every week. That format veers sharply from the Tour's 72-hole events with cuts at 36 holes and no guarantee of a paycheck, and questions about the format's viability and fairness in testing the mettle of players — along with the longstanding animus between the Tour and LIV — have kept LIV's ratings status in limbo.

The letter, signed by notables including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and others, sidesteps the competition question of LIV tournaments to instead focus on the quality of players involved.

"Some 23 tours are integrated into the OWGR universe, and LIV has earned its place among them," the players wrote. "Four LIV golfers have held the number-one position on the OWGR, and one is currently number-two. 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."

"Fans deserve rankings that are inclusive and accurate," the letter concludes. "Failure to include 48 of the world’s best golfers would mean the fans are being denied what they deserve." And, one could add, that the players are being denied what they desire. There is, as yet, no timetable for the OWGR's decision.

The PGA Tour's 2022-23 season is already underway. LIV's 2022 season has three remaining events, all in October, to be played in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Bangkok and Miami.

Dustin Johnson and Cam Smith are looking for validation for LIV.  (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Dustin Johnson and Cam Smith are looking for validation for LIV. (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Contact Jay Busbee at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.