Greg Norman
Greg Norman is spearheading LIV Golf Image Credit: LIV Golf

The Great White Shark is waving the white flag when it comes to LIV Golf being recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking. Greg Norman, the CEO and commissioner of the Saudi-funded league, has told his players that LIV has withdrawn its application.

LIV Golf first applied for World Ranking points in July 2022, about a month after the league launched with the same 48 players competing over 54 holes with no cut.

The OWGR board formally rejected the application last October, saying it could not fairly measure a league with the same group of players against 24 other tours around the world that have fuller tournaments and a path to get into them.

“We have made enormous efforts to fight for you and to ensure your accomplishments are recognized within the existing ranking system,” Norman wrote to players in a letter reported by multiple media outlets. “Unfortunately, the OWGR has shown little willingness to productively work with us.”

The four Majors use the world ranking as part of their criteria. Representatives from the Majors were the ones voting to reject LIV’s application last fall.

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Jon Rahm was signed by the league in December Image Credit: AP

The stronger effect would be the Olympics, which also relies on the world ranking to determine eligibility. Players like former British Open champion Cameron Smith of Australia and Tyrrell Hatton of England are unlikely to qualify, depending on how they fare in the majors.

Peter Dawson, chairman of the OWGR board, had said in October that “we are not at war” with LIV. He said it was a technical decision, not a political one. Dawson said LIV did not have a format that allowed it to be ranked equitably with other tours and “thousands of players trying to compete on them.”

LIV now has 54 players, though it still has a team competition that runs concurrently with individual play. Four players were able to qualify for the 2024 season, and the rosters are set for the 13 tournaments, barring the occasional alternate for injury.

By now, it’s almost a moot point.

LIV has only four players in the top 50, and eight in the top 100. Those numbers are shrinking.

Two of the top 50 — Masters champion Jon Rahm at No. 3 and Hatton at No. 17 — joined LIV only within the last few months. The others are PGA champion Brooks Koepka (No. 30) and Smith (No. 50).

Even if LIV were to make adjustments to create more open qualifying, the players would be so far removed from the top that it would be difficult for them to make up ground.

The only points LIV players get now are when they play the European and Asian tours. Joaquin Niemann (No. 76) won the Australian Open and had two other top-5 finishes in co-sanctioned European tour events. That was enough to receive an invitation to the Masters.

LIV will have 13 players at the Masters. Niemann has received an invitation to the PGA Championship and his Australian Open win earned him a spot in the British Open.