Phil Mickelson hints at new criteria by which LIV players could qualify for majors

Phil Mickelson of the United States reacts on the 18th green during the final round of the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 09, 2023 in Augusta, Georgia.

Phil Mickelson says major qualification for LIV players will "iron itself out."

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Even if LIV Golf doesn’t receive Official World Golf Ranking points, Phil Mickelson still sees a path for the tour’s players to earn entry into golf’s biggest tournaments.

“It’s going to all iron itself out because if you’re one of the majors, if you’re the Masters, you’re not looking at we should keep these guys out,” Mickelson said Wednesday ahead of LIV Golf Singapore. “You’re saying to yourself, we want to have the best field, we want to have the best players, and these guys added a lot to the tournament this year at the Masters.”

The Official World Golf Ranking, which is currently the main entryway for pros to earn exemptions into major championships without going through qualifying, has been reviewing the Saudi-backed league’s application for ranking points since the summer. Meanwhile, LIV members have seen their rankings plummet as a result, jeopardizing qualification into future majors for those who do not hold exemptions by other means.

Both the PGA and DP World Tours have successfully barred LIV golfers from their events, leaving just the majors and Asian Tour events as avenues to collect significant ranking points.

By virtue of his win at the 2021 PGA Championship, Mickelson is exempt into every major until the 2026 U.S. Open.

But take the example of last week’s winner, Talor Gooch. Gooch was No. 35 in the world in May 2022, before joining LIV Golf. Since then, he has played in just six OWGR-recognized events and fallen to No. 59 in the ranking. Assuming he falls out of the top 60 by June, which is likely, he won’t play in any more majors this year without participating in open qualifying.

“You should realize that the OWGR is not accurate, one,” said Bryson DeChambeau when asked specifically about Gooch Wednesday. “Two, I think that they need to come to a resolution or it will become obsolete. It’s pretty much almost obsolete as of right now. But again, if the majors and everything continue to have that as their ranking system, then they are biting it quite heavily.”

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“To keep [top LIV Golfers] out or to make them lose World Ranking points is not the right way to go,” added Bubba Watson. “I’ve said it, and I’m going to say it again. I believe we’ve just got to focus on the tours and our league, and the top players; if that means the PGA Tour gets 60 to 75 guys from there to be in every major, great. And if that means ten to 15 of our guys, at the end of the year, whoever has the most points get in the majors, great.

“Forget World Ranking points, just who is the best in your tour and our league and go from there. That’s how you do it. It’s simple math.”

Mickelson, who was one of three LIV golfers to finish in the top four at the Masters three weeks ago, offered a similar solution of either taking the top five or 10 players from LIVs points or event winners list and granting them entry to the majors.

“They’re going to have to find a way to get the best LIV players in their field if they want to have the best field in golf and be really what major championship is about,” Mickelson said. “If the World Golf Rankings doesn’t find a way to be inclusive, then the majors will just find another way to include LIV because it’s no longer a credible way.

“So it will all iron itself out for the simple reason that it’s in the best interest of everybody, especially the tournaments, the majors, to have the best players.”

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at