U.S. Markets closed
  • S&P 500

    3,963.94
    -62.18 (-1.54%)
     
  • Dow 30

    33,849.46
    -497.57 (-1.45%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    11,049.50
    -176.86 (-1.58%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    1,830.96
    -38.23 (-2.05%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    76.54
    +0.26 (+0.34%)
     
  • Gold

    1,740.30
    -13.70 (-0.78%)
     
  • Silver

    20.90
    -0.53 (-2.47%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.0341
    -0.0063 (-0.6101%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    3.7030
    +0.0120 (+0.33%)
     
  • Vix

    22.21
    +1.71 (+8.34%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.1958
    -0.0132 (-1.0930%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    138.8620
    -0.2380 (-0.1711%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    16,210.31
    -382.30 (-2.30%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    380.17
    -0.12 (-0.03%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,474.02
    -12.65 (-0.17%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    28,162.83
    -120.20 (-0.42%)
     

Exclusive: LIV golfers find way to earn world ranking points – from this week

Dustin Johnson and Cam Smith chatting - Exclusive: Loophole will allow LIV golfers to earn world ranking points - Alex Goodlett/LIV Golf
Dustin Johnson and Cam Smith chatting - Exclusive: Loophole will allow LIV golfers to earn world ranking points - Alex Goodlett/LIV Golf

In a sensational move, LIV Golf is expecting its event in Bangkok this week to deliver world rankings points for the first time and so allow its players a pathway to qualify for the majors.

Greg Norman’s enterprise believes a “strategic alliance” it has formed with the little-known MENA Tour has given the Saudi-funded circuit access to the ranking points which it has craved since its inaugural event in Hertfordshire in June and makes LIV yet more attractive to the superstars in front of whom they have already dangled hundreds of millions of dollars.

This void has been seen as LIV’s biggest weakness, because with its members banned from the PGA Tour they are inevitably sliding down the rankings, meaning they will not qualify for the majors unless they have other exemptions.

As is custom, the MENA Tour has submitted to the Official World Rankings Board the LIV Thailand field as one of its own events and is waiting as normal to see the strength-of-field calculations and how many points the winner will earn.

Except it obviously is not normal and it will be fascinating to see how the OGWR responds to the MENA Tour, a development circuit based in Dubai which stages tournaments throughout the Middle East and North Africa. After Telegraph Sport broke the story on Wednesday, a statement appeared on the MENA Tour’s official website saying “the final field rating and winners’ points are expected to be confirmed”.

The MENA Tour, which has been a member of the OGWR since 2016, has largely been mothballed since the start of the pandemic but is planning to return with an almighty bang by hailing the 48-man 54-holer at Stonehill as its curtain-raiser to the 2022/23 season.

The wraparound campaign will take in next year’s LIV schedule, which sees the rebel circuit becoming a league, with 13 individual events. Each of these will continue to have a $20 million purse – with an added $5m in team prizes – and feature the likes of Open champion, Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.

Those big names have been automatically listed as members of the MENA Tour and will also be able to compete on the rest of the circuit’s campaign, which will consist of approximately another 15 events. However, these will have the same prize funds as previously, amounting to $75,000, not even 0.5 per cent of the LIV purses.

“This is a very exciting day for the MENA Tour and our players,” David Spencer, the MENA Tour commissioner, said on the website. “Through this alliance, our players will now have enhanced playing opportunities and stronger pathways.  This is great news for the future of many young players on our Tour.”

LIV will exalt this latest advance another example of it affording golfers more options, pointing also to the International Series it is funding on the Asian Tour that is unaffected. Yet plainly, this is all about the world rankings and the dispute that has been building since LIV submitted its own application for OGWR status in July.

Norman has demanded that Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, and Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour chief executive, who are on the panel of the OGWR board, recuse themselves from the vote over whether to recognise LIV and a fortnight ago all the LIV golfers wrote an open letter to OGWR chairman Peter Dawson urging a “positive” and “quick” resolution.

However, the process takes at least a year and noises from OGWR insist that LIV does not meet any of the criteria. Yet as part of the MENA Tour, a LIV source told Telegraph Sport that “we are adamant that it ticks most if not all of the OGWR boxes. We do not know how they can exclude us now that the LIV Golf Series and next year’s LIV Golf League is on the MENA Tour”.

The “strategic alliance” – clearly a mischievous copy of the wording used when the PGA and DP World Tours came to an agreement 20 months ago, largely to stave off the upstart tour – will create ripples across the game. Last week, Rory McIlroy, the world No 2, who has been one of LIV’s most vocal opponents, discussed the incongruity of some of golf’s best players tumbling down the order.

“I certainly would want the best players in the world ranked accordingly,” McIlroy said. “I think if Dustin Johnson is somewhere around 100th in the world then it's not an accurate reflection of where he is in the game.

“But at the same time, you can't make up your own rules. If they want to pivot to meet the criteria, they can… I certainly have no problem with them getting world ranking points, at all. But if you don't meet the criteria, it's going to be hard to justify why you should have them.”