Officials at LIV Golf, frustrated that the golf official’s board of directors did not speed up review of the Saudi-backed course’s approval application, are trying another avenue in order to get players to earn OWGR points.
The Middle East and North Africa Tour announced on Wednesday a partnership with LIV Golf. LIV officials believe that the partnership with MENA, which already has OWGR accreditation, will allow LIV events to start receiving points immediately, starting with LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok this week.
“We are taking this mutually beneficial measure to support the game at a developmental level and because of the importance and fairness of eligible LIV golfers to OWGR points,” said Atul Khosla, President and COO of LIV Golf. “We are thrilled to create courses that provide more opportunities for young players, while also giving fans ratings that include the best golfers in the world.”
The MENA Tour was established in 2011 and has mostly been a developmental tour for players looking to eventually play in Europe, Asia and South Africa. In 2016, the Dubai-based tour, which has hosted approximately 10 to 15 events annually for wallets of around $75,000 (LIV wallets of $20 million), was awarded OWGR accreditation. The tour was canceled in 2018, and although it did return the following season, it hasn’t staged any tournaments in over two years. But as part of the announcement of the partnership with LIV (First reported by The TelegraphThe Middle East and North Africa Tour revealed that it will return with the 2022-23 season that kicks off with LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok this week and includes LIV’s last two invitation events in 2022 in Saudi Arabia and Miami as well as its 14-championship 2023 squad. All LIV golfers will automatically become members of the MENA Tour.
Apart from Khosla’s comments via the MENA tour announcement, Lev has yet to release any statement, although a statement is expected to come on Thursday. A MENA Tour press release stated, “The final course for LIV Golf Thailand, the inaugural event of the 2022/23 MENA Tour season, will be presented to OWGR by the MENA Tour prior to the start of play on Friday when the final evaluation of the field and winners will take place. The points are expected to be confirmed.
However, whether OWGR will award points for this week’s LIV event or any other LIV events in the near future is uncertain. No messages have been returned to OWGR regarding this matter as of this writing.
A source familiar with the work of the OWGR Technical Committee, which is reviewing the initial application of LIV . said, golf Summary that OWGR is unlikely to award points for this week’s LIV event, saying alliance with another round does not initiate automatic inclusion of LIV golf in the world rankings. Moreover, the MENA region risks withdrawing from accreditation because it appears that the MENA region may change its competition profile to align with LIV.
on July 6 LIV sent an application for accreditation to the OWGR Council, was introduced through sponsorship from the Asian Tour, which also has a partnership with LIV Golf. Peter Dawson, president of OWGR, acknowledged receipt of the application after the OWGR Board of Directors meeting during the Open Championships in St Andrews, noting that “the examination of the application will begin.” The process historically takes one to two years to complete, and appears to be taking longer as the structure and events of the LIV Golf fail to meet a number of prerequisites for OWGR certification.
Despite this documented protocol, LIV CEO Greg Norman sought the green light to apply LIV immediately. In September, 50 LIV members lobbied Dawson to include OWGR, and signed a letter seeking points not only for upcoming events but a retrospective of events played since the tour launched in June.
“To maintain confidence, we urge you – as one of the sport’s true statesmen – to act appropriately to include, on a retrospective basis, the results of the LIV Golf events in the calculations of the OWGR ranking,” the players wrote. “OWGR without LIV would be incomplete and inaccurate, which is the equivalent of leaving the Big 10 or SEC out of the US college football rankings, or leaving Belgium, Argentina and England out of the FIFA rankings.”
Given that LIV already has a partnership with an OWGR approved round in the Asian Tour, this raises the question as to why the emerging circuit would need to reach out to the MENA region. A source told Golf Digest that discontinuing LIV in 2022 was part of the logic, and its lack of avenues for Asian Tour players to compete in LIV events – an issue that LIV has addressed – has been hampering that path.
Additionally, while LIV Golf officials are confident they will be included under the MENA umbrella, OWGR’s denial may be part of LIV Golf’s antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour as well as a separate lawsuit against OWGR.