If Greg Norman is looking for a conspiracy to blame for LIV Golf events being denied world ranking points, then he will now have to play a dangerous game and point fingers at the big four.
Norman has vehemently demanded that Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, and Keith Pelley, the chief executive of the DP World Tour, refrain as board members from participating in LIV’s application to join the Official World Golf Rankings.
And, in a move that might surprise Norman, Pelley revealed Monday that the pair have done just that, as has Keith Waters, Pelley’s right-hand man who is also on the OWGR panel.
“At the last OWGR board meeting [in December] Myself, Jay Monahan and Keith Waters have recused themselves and now a separate committee made up of the four seniors will determine the application,” he said.
“I haven’t looked at the LIV app and I haven’t given my opinion on an app I haven’t seen. So as far as LIV is concerned, we are not involved in it and have no influence or say in what happens.”
LIV’s access to ranking points has become one of the main points of contention for the Saudi-funded circuit since it filed the forms last July.
In October, golfers on LIV’s roster, including Open champion Cam Smith and Dustin Johnson, the former world No. 1 who slipped to 44th in the eight months since he jumped ship, wrote an open letter to the president of LIV. OWGR, Peter Dawson, urging a “positive” and “swift” resolution.
However, the process takes at least a year and OWGR noises have insisted that LIV does not meet any of the criteria. sport telegraph exclusively reported three months ago that LIV tried to use a loophole so its £22m events could award points and thus allow its golfers a path back to the big leagues. But OWGR refused to acknowledge LIV’s merger with the MENA Tour, a humble circuit based in the Middle East and Africa.
Following Pelley’s disclosure, the matter is in the hands of the R&A, the US Golf Association, Augusta National and the PGA of America. An interesting note is that the major leagues have not banned LIV players and believe they can judge whether they deserve world ranking status. The Tours will now have to accept their ruling.
Pelley confirmed later Monday that the trio withdrew from the process “because our respective legal counsel suggested that we do so.” It’s fair to say that Pelley has been spending a lot of time with Tour lawyers of late, in preparation for next month’s arbitration hearing in the UK that will essentially determine whether Wentworth HQ has the power to ban LIV players.
These include Lee Westwood, who in an interview in Abu Dhabi last week, was highly critical of the current state of the Tour, saying sport telegraph “I don’t know what the Tour is anymore”, and questioning why only one player in the world’s top 20 was in the $9m (£7.3m) Abu Dhabi Championship.
Pelley responded to the comments, but was careful not to name Westwood directly.
“We had an interesting evening last night at the post-tournament function. [in Abu Dhabi] and it was amazing how many people came up to me and said they were disappointed in the comments made by a player earlier that week and that it was unfair to the staff,” he said. “I wasn’t really aware of how upset the staff were.”
Westwood is playing in the Hero Desert Classic which starts here at the Majlis course on Thursday. World number 1 Rory McIlroy is also in the field and could need a strong week to prevent Jon Rahm from usurping him at the top of the rankings.
Rahm won his fourth title in six starts at the American Express Championship on Sunday in California to move up to No. 3 in the world and could reclaim the top spot at the Farmers Insurance Open, which begins in Torrey Pines on Wednesday.