MELBOURNE: LIV Golf chief Greg Norman Wednesday warned the world rankings risk becoming a “laughing stock” if they refuse to award points to players from the Saudi-backed breakaway circuit. The issue of LIV Golf’s events being recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) system could be pivotal to its future.
If players can earn rankings points from LIV events, it becomes easier to qualify for the sport’s four majors. “It makes OWGR look obsolete if they don’t (accept LIV),” Norman told The Age newspaper in Melbourne. “If they wake up at the end of the year and Dustin Johnson is 102 in the world, is that not a laughing stock to the OWGR?
“There’s two ways they can go: they can either fold, or they include LIV into OWGR. We’ll move on. Everyone’s happy after that.” The emergence of LIV Golf this year has plunged the sport into turmoil, with a host of top players from the PGA Tour opting to switch to a series that offers some of the richest purses in history. The new circuit has been accused of “sportswashing” Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, backed by the almost unlimited resources of the kingdom’s sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund.
The PGA Tour has adopted a zero-tolerance stance towards the series – which plays no-cut tournaments over three days and includes a team competition – with those defecting being suspended. Norman urged the custodians of the major tournaments to let LIV players take part, despite the PGA Tour’s stance. “They (PGA Tour) have no right to tell each of those majors what to do. They’re independent organizations. Yes, certain members sit on their board. I get it and I understand that,” he said.
“(But) if you were a broadcaster you would be questioning the value of your investment for television if you don’t have the strongest field in each and every one of them. I hope they stay (neutral like) Switzerland.” The highest profile golfer to make the switch so far was Norman’s fellow Australian Cameron Smith, the British Open champion, who was world number two when he made the move this month. He will join other major winners such as Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia in leading one of the 12 Liv Golf four-player teams in 2023. – AFP