PGA players at the Presidents Cup pushed back Tuesday on a call by Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series players for world ranking points, saying they must wait and make major changes.
In an open letter to rankings board chairman Peter Dawson, all 48 players in last week’s Chicago Invitational asked for retroactive recognition of the 54-hole, shotgun start events.
“An OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings) without LIV would be incomplete and inaccurate,” the players said, comparing it to England, Argentina and Belgium being left out of the FIFA rankings.
But Billy Horschel, a rookie on the US squad facing the Internationals at this week’s team matches in Charlotte, said LIV doesn’t meet the criteria for ranking points and players knew the risks when they left the PGA for the record riches on offer from the upstart series.
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“I know it’s a year to an 18-month process before they even get world ranking points. So just wait it out. Meet the criteria,” Horschel said.
“They don’t meet, from what I’ve been told, the first nine things on the criteria list. They don’t have an average field size of 78. They don’t have a cut. They don’t have open qualifying. They don’t award points or spots to local qualifiers. They don’t have a Q-School. All these things that they don’t have.”
The move comes as LIV Golf chairman Greg Norman visits US lawmakers in Washington this week to discuss the upstart circuit and its anti-trust lawsuit against the US PGA Tour. But he’ll also get questions about Saudi Arabia’s human rights issues.
Obtaining world golf ranking points is vital for LIV players if they hope to qualify for majors based upon their world ranking, a pivotal step in playing in future major championships.
LIV players were allowed in this year’s US and British Opens, the tour’s June debut coming after qualifying for those events.
World number three Cameron Smith of Australia, who won the British Open in July, won LIV’s Chicago Invitational on Sunday with two-time major winner Dustin Johnson sharing second.
“The level of competition at the average LIV event is at least equal to that at the average PGA Tour event,” the players claimed. “We know because we’ve played in both.”
The letter points out LIV has 21 of the past 51 major winners and notes Johnson’s fall from 13th to 22nd in the world rankings despite a win, runner-up and third-place LIV finish.
“Every week that passes without the inclusion of LIV athletes undermines the historical value of OWGR,” the letter said.
Bending the rules to placate LIV Golf, no matter how good the players have been, would hurt OWGR as well, Horschel contends.
“There’s a process in place and they’ve got to follow that process,” Horschel said. “All of those guys knew, when they left the PGA Tour, there was a good chance they may not get world ranking points.
“Unfortunately, they were told they were going to get world ranking points by their colleagues. Greg Norman and the people over there feel like they should get world ranking points right away. That’s not going to happen. That’s not the process in place.”
– ‘Just follow the rules’ –
LIV pushed Dawson for a quick decision “for the integrity of the rankings” and complained of PGA ties by four of eight ranking board members.
Horschel’s reply: “Just follow the rules.”
Others had some sympathy for LIV, including top-ranked Masters champion Scottie Scheffler.
“I don’t know the ins and outs of how the system works, if those golf tournaments are deemed eligible, if 54-hole events count,” the American said. “It’s challenging.”
American rookie Max Homa, coming off a victory last week, hoped LIV would get points, if the OWGR board allows.
“If the OWGR decides they get World Ranking points that’s great. I have no problem,” Homa said. “To my eye, it seems like they should get world ranking points.
“I hope for them it does go through. But there’s a criteria. That’s how the world works.”