Cameron Smith joined LIV Golf in August 2022 – one month after winning his first major at The Open
Former Open champion Cameron Smith says golf’s world rankings are “almost obsolete” because of their “ridiculous” refusal to award ranking points for events on the breakaway LIV tour.
Australian Smith, who won the 150th Open at St Andrews last year, is one of several LIV players to criticise this week’s decision by the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) to continue to ignore tournaments on the lucrative Saudi Arabia-funded circuit.
Among others who have spoken out against the decision are double major champion Dustin Johnson, former Masters winner Patrick Reed and 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.
“I think it [OWGR] is almost obsolete now,” Smith, 30, said before LIV’s final regular-season event, which starts in Jeddah on Friday.
“We’ve got some guys out here who are playing some of the best golf in the world and they’re outside the top 100, 200 in the world. It’s pretty ridiculous.”
Former world number one Johnson, who won the 2016 US Open and 2020 Masters, claimed the rankings are no longer fit for purpose.
“I feel like you can’t really use the world ranking system any more,” the 39-year-old said.
“Hard to use the world ranking system if you’re excluding 48 guys that are good players. The rankings are skewed.”
Majors such as The Open, US Open and Masters use the world rankings to help determine their fields. LIV players without exemptions courtesy of previous major successes will find it increasingly difficult to become eligible for the game’s biggest tournaments.
OWGR chairman Peter Dawson sent a letter to LIV chief executive Greg Norman and chief operating officer Gary Davidson last Tuesday informing them that LIV’s application for ranking status had been refused.
The ranking body’s main concern was over limited access for golfers to join the 48-player circuit.
“The board committee does not believe it is equitable to thousands of players who strive every day to get starts in OWGR eligible tournaments to have a tour operate in this mostly closed fashion,” Dawson wrote.
There are also concerns that LIV’s team format can influence performances in the individual competitions that run in parallel during their 54 hole tournaments.
Dawson said the decision was “technical” rather than “political”.
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“Obviously it’s disappointing,” said American Reed, 33, who now has only his Masters exemption for winning at Augusta in 2018 for major eligibility.
“Until the actual world ranking reflects the actual top players in the world, then to me it’s just kind of a broken system… Just because we play on a different tour, it shouldn’t matter.”
DeChambeau, 30, called on the majors to find different ways to accommodate LIV’s leading players rather than rely on world rankings.
“We would love to find another way to be integrated into the major championship system,” he said.
“I think we have some of the best players in the world. Top 12 on the list, the money list at the end of the year or the points list at the end of the year would be, I think, obvious for the major championships to host the best players in the world at those four events each year.”
LIV’s 14-tournament schedule is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is currently in talks with the PGA and DP World Tours to try to ratify a framework agreement struck last June.
The outcome of those negotiations could shape the future of men’s professional golf but for 2024, at least, LIV is expected to run what will be its third season in parallel rather than in conjunction with the established circuits.