LIV golfers criticize ‘almost obsolete’ OWGR after ruling

by Joanne Miller

Cameron Smith Criticizes Official World Golf Ranking System

By Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer
Oct 12, 2023, 10:35 AM ET

Australian golfer Cameron Smith recently expressed his disappointment with the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) system, calling it “almost obsolete.” This comment comes after the OWGR governing body decided not to award world-ranking points to golfers for their finishes in LIV Golf League tournaments.

Smith, who previously held a ranking as high as No. 2 in the world after winning The Open at St. Andrews in July 2022, made the decision to leave the PGA Tour for LIV Golf about two months later. Since then, his ranking has dropped to 15th globally.

The golfer voiced his concerns about the OWGR system during a press conference in Saudi Arabia, where LIV Golf is set to play its final regular-season event. Smith highlighted the fact that some players who are performing exceptionally well in LIV Golf tournaments are not ranked within the top 100 or top 200 in the world, which he believes is absurd.

Smith is not alone in his criticism of the OWGR system. Dustin Johnson, a two-time major winner and the inaugural individual champion of LIV Golf in 2022, also expressed his doubts about the ranking system. Johnson questioned its credibility, stating that it is difficult to use a ranking system that excludes 48 talented players from its calculations. He believes that the rankings are skewed and emphasized the importance of recognition for all deserving players.

The OWGR chairman, Peter Dawson, sent a letter to LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman and COO Gary Davidson, informing them of the decision not to recognize LIV Golf League as an eligible tour in the OWGR system. The letter cited concerns about the lack of player turnover in LIV Golf and limited opportunities for other players to join. It also raised significant issues with the team aspects of LIV Golf, where players compete in both individual and team competitions simultaneously over 54 holes.

As a result of the OWGR’s decision, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour have suspended players who participated in LIV Golf tournaments without conflicting-event releases. Several LIV Golf players have subsequently resigned from these tours.

While the four major golf championships have allowed LIV Golf players to compete if they qualify, future exemptions based on world ranking may become more challenging for LIV Golf participants. Currently, only Cameron Smith and Brooks Koepka are ranked within the top 50 in the world, with six LIV Golf players ranked within the top 100.

Players like Patrick Reed have expressed frustration with the current situation, urging for a system that reflects the true top players in the world. Reed, who is only eligible to play in the Masters as a past champion in 2024, described the current system as flawed because it penalizes players who participate in a different tour.

The debates surrounding the OWGR system have prompted suggestions for alternative ways to recognize the accomplishments of LIV Golf players. For example, Bryson DeChambeau proposed allowing the top 12 players from LIV Golf’s season-long points race to gain automatic entry into the majors the following year.

Richard Bland, an English golfer, echoed the sentiment of many by emphasizing that the world rankings should reflect the best players, regardless of where they compete. Bland expressed disappointment that future golf fans may miss out on watching the best players compete in the most prestigious tournaments due to the flaws in the current system.

As the debate continues, it remains to be seen how the OWGR governing body will respond to the criticisms and whether any changes will be made to the system in the future.

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