Seth Waugh
Seth Waugh addresses the media ahead of the PGA Championship Image Credit: PGA of America

Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America and board member of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), says that LIV Golf misunderstood the process of gaining OWGR recognition.

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.

Five months later, the breakaway circuit withdrew its request to be recognised by the OWGR, with the league’s CEO, Greg Norman, stating, “the OWGR has shown little willingness to productively work with us.”

With LIV players not earning World Ranking points, many of them have slipped down the OWGR, leaving them without exemptions into Major Championships.

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Jon Rahm moved to LIV Golf in December Image Credit: AP

But this week’s PGA Championship features 16 defectors after the PGA of America issued seven of them a special invite to ensure the Major boasted the strongest field in golf.

“In terms of our invites, we said last year it's going to be a bit more of an art form than a math problem,” said Waugh ahead of the 106th edition of the Major Championship.

“We have the flexibility to do that and I think we have put together the best field in golf.

“As far as OWGR goes, when LIV asked for points, they publicly assumed they were going to have points and made some promises. I think they expected an answer in a very short period of time.

“That's just never happened. So I think they misunderstood how the process went. I'm not saying it's their fault. I'm just saying I think they misunderstood.”

It had been assumed that LIV Golf’s format of 54-hole no cut events were a major obstacle in obtaining recognition from the OWGR, but Saugh revealed those were issues the board “can solve”.

Instead, there were other aspects of the Saudi-funded circuit that were too difficult to overcome.

“We told them there was some stuff that we could solve, which is 54 holes and no cut,” he added. “We certainly will in other places, both 54 holes and no cut, now on some of the tour events.

“But there is two fundamental things that we weren't sure we could solve with math, which was relegation and promotion, and what that looked like because that was murky and they didn't want to share exactly who was sort of there and so we never knew the percentages of what that would look like.

“And secondly, just the inherent conflict of team versus individual play and whether that could create a situation, and it actually became public last year when one of the players talked about you know trying to two-putt as opposed to trying to make a putt to win a tournament. He was trying to two-putt for his team.

“So we went back with that and told them if they could solve that or we could engage on it but they didn't change their position. We didn't really change ours.

“We've had very serious conversations about it, and then without telling us publicly, they have withdrawn their application.

“I don't think OWGR's job is to seek out tours to do that, and if they wanted to reapply, we'd certainly entertain it. We've behaved properly.”