BANGKOK — The LIV Golf Invitational Series is forming a “strategic alliance” with the developmental Mena Tour in an effort to gain Official World Golf Ranking points.
The UK’s Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday that the agreement with the Dubai-based circuit would allow players competing in this week’s LIV Golf event in Bangkok to receive points as well as through next year’s 13-event individual schedule.
The Official World Golf Ranking website does not list this week’s LIV Golf event among the circuits receiving points.
A LIV Golf spokesman told Sports Illustrated that information was forthcoming, but the entity has not said anything official on the matter. Players were told about the arrangement at a pro-am party Wednesday.
The Mena Tour announced the strategic alliance on its website Wednesday.
A source told SI that there has been positive reaction to the move from OWGR officials but it is unclear if this will take place before the start of the tournament that begins Friday.
If true, the maneuver is an interesting strategy for LIV Golf, which has been outspoken in its desire to get its players receiving world ranking points. It recently sent a letter to the head of the Official World Golf Ranking committee, Peter Dawson, signed by 50 players who have competed in LIV events. “An OWGR without LIV would be incomplete and inaccurate,” the letter read.
The Mena Tour plays events throughout the Middle East and North Africa but has been on hold since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It is said to be beginning on a wraparound 2022–23 schedule of 15 events, in which the LIV Golf Bangkok event would be the first. It is believed that the fact that the Mena (an acronym for Middle East North Africa) Tour has been dormant provided an opening for LIV Golf.
“This is a very exciting day for the Mena Tour and our players,” said Mena Tour commissioner David Spencer in a release. “Through this alliance, our players will now have enhanced playing opportunities and stronger pathways. This is great news for the future of many young players on our Tour.”
LIV Golf has one more regular event next week in Saudi Arabia before a season-ending team championship at the end of the month.
The Telegraph report said the 13 individual events on the LIV schedule in 2023 would be taken in as part of the Mena Tour, which will consist of another 15 events—all of which would be open to LIV Golf players.
The Mena Tour’s website lists no tournament schedule for 2022–23, and its events have a total purse of $75,000—or $45,000 less than what the last-place finisher in a 48-man LIV field receives. The LIV events have $25 million purses, with $20 million going to the individual portion and $4 million to the winner.
LIV Golf already has a relationship with the Asian Tour and is bankrolling a series of elevated events on that circuit known as the International Series, with enhanced purses and a small window of opportunity for the top players to advance—and be demoted—between the International Series and LIV. The Asian Tour has sanctioned LIV Golf and was the sponsor of its application for world ranking points.
How the OWGR would allow LIV to attain points in this manner is still unclear. To be determined is whether there is a pathway from the developmental circuit to LIV Golf, or at least onto the Asian Tour.
And LIV Golf still has several glaring weaknesses, according to various criteria established by the OWGR. The playing of 54-hole events with only 48 players and no cut are seen as drawbacks. So is the lack of true access to LIV events—a majority of the players signed contracts to be part of the league and cannot be replaced.
As it stands now, LIV Golf events would not receive a large number of points. The OWGR, after several years of modifying its plans, put in place a more detailed ranking system that began in August. It is already apparent that smaller field events are seeing a decrease in points.
For example, the 30-player Tour Championship saw Rory McIlroy get 38 points for winning (and having the low 72-hole score). A year earlier, Jon Rahm and Kevin Na shared the 72-hole low score and each received 51 points.
The same will occur in December at the Hero World Challenge, where the 20-player field will see its points allocation reduced.