LIV golfers are courageously forging an innovative new path for a stuffy old sport in the face of obstructionist conspiracies by golf’s corrupt deep state. Or so insists Phil Mickelson, whose prior perilous proximity to an insider trading indictment at least grants him some authority on corrupt conspiracies.
The latest supposed evidence of anti-LIV collusion is the refusal by the Official World Golf Ranking to recognize the Saudi-funded circuit, and the reaction to that rejection exposes an argument by the league and its players that is less about rewarding their enlightenment than indulging their entitlement.
The OWGR’s decision was neither surprising nor suspicious. LIV didn’t meet multiple criteria for inclusion when applied 15 months ago and has made no serious effort at compliance since. The chairman of the ranking body, Peter Dawson, said algorithmic solutions exist to questions about field size, number of rounds and the lack of a cut, but that there remain two areas of significant concern: the qualification process, and how LIV’s individual tournaments co-exist with the team component.
Entry to LIV is determined by the whim of Greg Norman and the checkbook of Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. Exits from LIV are equally inequitable, with some stars contractually exempt from the consequences of poor play. “Simply put, the Board Committee does not believe it is equitable to thousands of players who strive every day to get starts in OWGR Eligible Tournaments to have a tour. operate in this mostly-closed fashion,” Dawson wrote to Norman. He further noted that LIV teammates are often grouped together and cited comments by Sebastian Munoz, who in April admitted that he was less concerned with tying Brooks Koepka on the final hole of an individual tournament than in protecting a narrow lead in the team event.
As Dawson signposted the fast track to compliance, LIV’s reply showed it wants a spot on the podium without having to run the race.
“OWGR’s sole objective is to rank the best players across the globe. Today’s communication makes clear that it can no longer deliver on that objective,” LIV announced, with characteristic dissembling. The objective of the OWGR is to rank players competing on tours whose competitive integrity can be vouched for, which LIV’s cannot. By LIV’s logic, Dustin Johnson deserves ranking points simply because he’s Dustin Johnson, regardless of whether he is…