Why LIV Golf suddenly abandoned its chase for OWGR points

Greg Norman in Hong Kong for this week's LIV event.

Greg Norman announced LIV's abandonment of its quest for OWGR points.

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LIV Golf doesn’t want OWGR points anymore.

On its face, Tuesday’s announcement came as a jarring, stunning, wait-what reversal. Since the league’s inception in 2022 there is nothing LIV has wanted more than world ranking points. With points would come legitimacy. With points would come pathways to major championships. With points would come the ability to better lure pros from other tours. With points would come a chance for world golf domination.

But there it was, a letter from Norman, LIV’s commissioner, telling his players that he doesn’t see a path forward for LIV and the OWGR. The wording was dramatic: “A resolution which protects the accuracy, credibility, and integrity of the OWGR rankings no longer exists.”

In fairness, it’s still probably too simple to say LIV doesn’t want points. If you told Greg Norman that tomorrow you were gonna stop by his house with a couple ribeyes, a bottle of cab and a full basket of world ranking points for his LIV players, I think he’d jump at the opportunity. But when the OWGR denied LIV’s latest bid just a few months ago, their response signaled that the path to points could take a while — and perhaps require a format change to get there. So, a few months after the OWGR rejected LIV, LIV has decided it will reject the OWGR.

Is there an element of “you-can’t-fire-me-I-quit” to this approach? For sure. Norman made it clear in his letter that even if LIV were awarded points soon, his players’ rankings have deteriorated so much that their strengths of field would look far worse than they deserved. There’s no immediate path to points anyway. They don’t have a ton of leverage in the discussion. But LIV’s move here counts on the fact that they still have some leverage in the form of its top players and their potential exclusion from top events. And so LIV is taking a stand. Norman and Co. are making a bet. And they’re showing signs that if they don’t get their way, they’ll happily burn golf’s institutions to the ground.


After all, every golf fan knows that nearly every one of LIV’s top pros is better than his world ranking. Joaquin Niemann is one of the hottest players on the planet and is stuck at OWGR No. 76. Bryson DeChambeau could be a threat at several majors this year but has dropped to No. 182. Dustin Johnson (No. 266) and Talor Gooch (No. 476) have plummeted, too. You get the idea. Did golfers take this risk leaving for LIV? Yes. Does LIV’s newness and format present understandable delays in getting points? Yes. But even PGA Tour players acknowledge that the rankings don’t represent reality.

“Obviously now when you have a huge chunk of really, really good players that are not getting any ranking points, it definitely devalues that ranking,” Viktor Hovland said this week at Bay Hill.

“They’re just sort of unranked right now, but to me, I do believe they’re definitely top-ranked players in the world,” Xander Schauffele said of top LIV pros.

“I think the World Rankings has a very particular set of criteria, and I don’t know if broken is the right word, but I think that there’s been so much uncertainty and change in the last couple years that it’s inevitable that things need to be updated or things need to be changed,” Patrick Cantlay added.

They weren’t unified on a solution, but they recognized that something is clearly amiss.

And while there’s a segment of golf fans that are happy to see LIV defectors shut out of the majors, the majority would prefer to see the top pros doing battle on the biggest stages. Because the majors have long relied on the OWGR to build out their fields, the OWGR remains golf’s most relevant ranking system. Those two things are now in direct conflict — the best fields and the reliance on the OWGR. Something has to give. That’s part of Norman’s bet, then: The OWGR needs LIV more than the other way around.

LIV pros have pitched the idea of majors building their own exemption category for the league. Perhaps the top 12 competitors on LIV could earn berths into the four majors, they’ve said. Perhaps more than that. There are other creative ways to get around the OWGR issue, too — the Masters and PGA Championship have already extended invites to Joaquin Niemann — but time will tell how much the majors think they need the likes of talented-but-not-OWGR-qualified pros like Talor Gooch, Louis Oosthuizen and Dean Burmester. Norman’s ploy doesn’t guarantee anything except an acceleration and clarity to that dialogue. With the OWGR decision no longer in limbo the majors can’t say that they’re just waiting for that decision. They’ll be forced to take a stand one way or the other. They’ll prioritize LIV guys getting in or they’ll let ’em fall out.


After all, the same people who rejected LIV’s OWGR application are the ones who would decide LIV pros’ major eligibility. The OWGR consists of seven members. Three of ’em are aligned with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour and recused themselves from LIV’s application. The remaining four are reps from the four majors. Will their events recognize LIV more officially than the OWGR?

Golf’s institutions don’t seem overly fond of LIV but seem open to the idea of including its players in future competitions. During the last LIV decision, OWGR chairman Peter Dawson went out of his way to depoliticize the announcement.

“We are not at war with them,” Dawson told the AP. “This decision not to make them eligible is not political. It is entirely technical.”

He also signaled a future opportunity for LIV’s inclusion — an opportunity they’ve since rejected.

“Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, of course they should be in the ranking,” he said. “We need to find a way to get that done. I hope that LIV can find a solution — not so much their format; that can be dealt with through a mathematical formula — but the qualification and relegation.”

So time will tell. In granting Niemann his Masters berth, Augusta National reps didn’t even mention his LIV performance. The Open Championship has reiterated its commitment to the OWGR as a qualifying criteria. And while Norman insisted LIV is in close contact with representatives from each of the majors, thus far none of the majors have indicated any substantial interest in a LIV exemption category. (The closest came from R&A head Martin Slumbers, who told Sports Illustrated on Wednesday that they’d considered it before going in a different direction.)

All of this puts LIV leadership in a tricky position. Based on purses and contracts it’s not as though its players are worried about paying for their next meal. But the league had promised LIV signees that points were coming soon — yet the majority of their field now has no in-league path to the game’s biggest events. Although LIV boasts enough recent major champs and top-ranked pros to get roughly a dozen pros in each of this year’s majors, that number will inevitably drop in the coming years if nothing changes.

That’s the real subtext of LIV’s decision, then: They’re escalating and accelerating their war with the establishment. In some ways LIV has been at war with the establishment since its inception, but its quest for points had still demonstrated an interest in carving out a spot within professional golf’s ecosystem. This represents a break from that quest. It hardly seems like a coincidence that this latest decision comes in the wake of the PGA Tour’s multi-billion dollar funding deal with the Strategic Sports Group and the establishment of its new for-profit company. It hardly seems like talks are anywhere close between the PIF and the PGA Tour. And LIV will continue to lean into its role as the aggrieved underdog.

So LIV is doubling down, whether because it’s their best option or its only option. Either way they’re telling the golf world that they’re done adapting to the existing entities and that the existing entities must now adapt to them instead.

Now we’re left to wait and see how they do adapt — or track what happens if they don’t.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.com Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.