After LIV Golf players teed it up in the first tournament of the 2023 League season over the weekend, two more of its players dropped out of the world’s top 100.
New signing Sebastian Munoz began the weekend at World No.98. However, following his participation in the LIV Golf Mayakoba event, which, like the circuit’s other tournaments, didn’t offer Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, he fell three places to World No.101.
Directly beneath him in the OWGR is another LIV Golf player, Richard Bland, who began the weekend filling the final place in the top 100 before sliding to World No.102.
While falling out of the top century of players has symbolic meaning, there is another, more important reason why, in Munoz’s and Bland’s case, it is damaging. That’s because the pair were relying on remaining in the top 100 to qualify for the second Major of the year, the PGA Championship.
Players in the top 100 who haven’t already qualified for the tournament are invariably invited to take part. Worryingly for Bland and Munoz, an invite is unlikely to be forthcoming without a move back into the top 100.
They do have the option of playing on tours that offer OWGR points. In Bland’s case, he has played regularly on the DP World Tour since joining LIV. However, he is currently awaiting the outcome of a hearing to determine whether LIV Golf players can continue on the Tour. Meanwhile, each has the chance to compete on the Asian Tour, something they both did recently in the Saudi International.
One issue, though, is that the LIV Golf schedule is significantly more congested than last year, with six more events than 2022, so squeezing in appearances on other circuits is likely to be problematic.
While Bland and Munoz get used to their new positions outside the coveted top 100, they could soon be joined by more LIV Golfers. Anirban Lahiri has dropped a place to World No.100 and will surely fall further soon, while not much higher than him is four-time Major winner Brooks Koepka, who has slipped five more places to World No.90.
While that spells bad news for Lahiri’s chances of reaching the PGA Championship, at least that’s not a concern where Koepka is concerned. Thanks to those wins, he qualifies for every Major in 2023, although by the time the first of those, The Masters at Augusta National, comes round in April, he could also be outside the top 100.
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